double-circle-child-2How to conduct a successful lesson observation  

Lesson observations are a vital part of enhancing teacher development. By conducting observations feedback can be collected on what is working successfully as well as areas for improvement. Lesson observations can be conducted at any point through a teacher’s career, from ECT’s to Department Heads, and are used to evaluate the effectiveness of the teaching an ensure excellent learning outcomes for pupils.  

Lesson observations can come in several of forms, peer and mentor conducted and external parties such as Ofsted for whole school assessment. This blog will focus on internally conducted peer and mentor observations but if you would to know more about Ofsted observations and what they entail then visit our blog ‘What is an outstanding lesson observation?’ 

Observations make a difference but, what do we observe in a lesson? 

When observing a lesson it is important not to view it as a box ticking exercise. All Teachers are individuals and will lead their lessons in an individual way, by focusing on a set group of features that need to be ticked off, observers can often miss the main focus of the observation – the pupils learning. Learning occurs on many levels and it can be difficult to see all occurrences of this during an observation. But, by adopting an open approach to lesson observation and using our tips below you can ensure that you have the tools to conduct a successful lesson observation.  

Lesson observation tips – that really work!  

The thought of being observed in the classroom can be a nerve wracking experience, so if you are observing a teacher it is important to ensure you are fully prepared in order to lower levels of stress.  

 A good lesson observation would be one that engages teachers in a discussion about what happens in their classroom and helps them to improve outcomes for their students. We’d suggest observers follow this lesson observation guidance to best prepare… 

  • Make time to meet. Just sending a time and date to teacher and turning up can add a great deal of stress. Take the time to meet with the teacher first and discuss a time that works for you both. 
  • Take time to understand where the lesson fits into the wider learning journey. Read a lesson plan whilst observing can be distracting for both you and the teacher. Take time to discuss beforehand what the students have been learning and what learning is coming next to ensure you have the full picture. This is of particular importance if you are observing a different department to your own 
  • Outline purpose of the observation. Observations are primarily used for development, but if you are also looking to check compliance with school policies and procedures or are carrying out a performance management review or observing for a qualification, then this needs to be clear.  
  • Agree a focus for the observation. As we mentioned earlier it is hard to observe everything in a lesson. Discuss openly with your colleague if there are any areas they are concerned around and focus on those. 
  • Detail how you will be observing. Always discuss openly the observation programme, what will happen and what will be recorded and where. 
  • Set a time feedback.Aim to do this soon as possible after so the lesson is still fresh in both your minds. Try to ensure you have the time for a proper discussion approximately. 20 mins.
  • Ask for them to observe you. By observing each other you build up trust as well as learning from different levels and expertise. Fully qualified teachers can offer a wealth of practical advice and experience. 
  • Review information about the class. Ensure that you are aware of the key information of the class. Are there any students with special needs or are EAL. Do any pupils have a history of poor behavior or attendance.  
  • Visit the classroom and work out where you can best observe from. Your presence in the classroom will be noticed by both the teacher and the pupils which will inevitably cause a dynamic change. Try and visit the classroom beforehand to find a spot which is unobtrusive and away from the students.

The main aim of lesson observations is to improve teaching and learning outcomes over time. When carried out correctly they help to drive schools forward and change school cultures for the better.  

Lesson observations can inevitably go wrong when they are not properly prepared or conducted. Read our blog The Best & Worst lesson observation feedback to see what happens when things go wrong!  

pink-icon-ebook Click the icon to read our full guide to lesson observation! 


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The School of the Future Guide is aimed at helping school leaders and teachers make informed choices when designing the learning environments of the future using existing and upcoming technologies, as they seek to prepare children for the rest of the 21st century – the result is a more efficient and competitive school.

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