LAL Summer Schools Teacher Observation Policy and Procedures

Observation Procedure

Teaching observations are part and parcel of running a successful summer school. Observations provide an opportunity for teachers to receive feedback, support and ideas for further development and of course, for LAL to see how the syllabus is being implemented.

LAL try to create a supportive atmosphere in which these observations take place, making the experience positive for both the teacher and the observer. The pre-observation meeting, self-evaluation form and feedback session aim to actively engage the teacher in the observation process and its outcomes. If you have any questions on any aspect of the observation policy and procedures please do not hesitate to ask either your DOS or a member of the Summer School Management Team.

 

Buzz observations

Buzz observations will be carried out by the a member of the Academic Management Team at each site within the first two days of teachers starting to teach with us. These will be informal observations, for which teachers will not have to complete any lesson plans or other paperwork. There will also be no formal feedback given to teachers from these. However the observer may, based on the buzz observation, suggest an area they would like to see you cover during your formal observation. They will do this during your pre-observation meeting. The buzz observations will last 10-15 minutes and be part of a school walk around, where the observer will pop in and out of several classes. The purpose of these is for the DOS to get a sense of the teaching team and to give them a basis for planning the formal observation schedule over the following week(s). If you would like to talk to your DOS about any aspect of your buzz observation, just ask them.

Pre-observation meeting

The DOS/observer will meet with the teacher for a brief discussion of the observation and what to expect, before the actual observation. This is an opportunity for the teacher to think about what they want to get out of the observation and to formulate some personal goals for the observation. Newly qualified teachers may find it helpful to get feedback on certain things such as classroom management issues or how to present language in a more student-centred way, or whatever else is troubling them. Experienced teachers may feel anxious about getting observed as they are supposed to know what they are doing but may get told otherwise, the pre-observation meeting can help to reduce these worries. During this meeting the teachers will be provided with copies of any paperwork they are expected to fill out for the observation, or will be shown where to find these. The observer may also make suggestions on areas they would like to see covered during the formal observation, these could be based on what they have seen during the buzz observation, or from a previous year’s observations if you have worked for an LAL Summer School before.

The time and date of the observation and feedback session will be confirmed with the teacher during this meeting.

 

Paperwork to be completed for an observation

Teachers are expected to complete both a Lesson Plan Front Cover and a Lesson Plan Detailed Procedure Form. Blank copies of these are available from your DOS. Completed examples of these are available on the LAL Careers Website or from your DOS. Teachers are also expected to provide, clear, correctly sourced copies of any materials used during the observation.

After the observation you will also be given a Teacher Self-Evaluation form to complete and return to the observer prior to the feedback session.

 

Observation

In preparation for the observer joining your class please ensure that you have left an empty chair somewhere accessible, so the observer does not disturb the class when joining you. This is particularly important as the observer may likely be joining the class during the lesson time, rather than at the start or after break. If you have not given the observer the relevant paperwork (lessons plans, copies of materials etc.) prior to this point, please leave them on the chair for the observer.

The observer will focus on the events that take place during the observation rather than their subjective impression of the teacher’s performance to avoid observer bias. Observations will be between 30 -45 minutes long.

 

Teacher Self-Evaluation

After the observation the teacher will also be given a Teacher Self-Evaluation form to complete and return to the observer prior to the feedback session. It is recommended that teachers fill this in as soon after the observation as possible, so that their recollection of the lesson is still clear. Referring back to the observation criteria provided in the pre-observation meeting can be useful when completing this.

This completed form provides the basis of the feedback session and aims to ensure that the observer and the teacher talk about the same points.

 

Feedback session

The Teacher Self-Evaluation will form the basis of the session. Observers should give concrete examples from the lesson to support any comments made.

The observation should finish with the teacher and the observer together setting goals for future lessons, based on feedback. If a teacher’s performance did not meet LAL standards in an area, they should be given specific guidance on how to improve by LAL Summer Schools Academic Management and the teacher will be observed again and is expected to show improvement in this area. This should be reflected in the goals.

The teacher will be invited to make comment on the feedback session and observation. The observer will complete the Observation Feedback Cover Sheet to reflect this. Once any paperwork has been completed a copy of it will be given to the teacher and another will be given to the DOS to be filed. This copy may also be reviewed by any member of the LAL Summer Schools Management Team.

 

Follow-up Observations

If it is necessary to observe a teacher again, the follow-up observation should be scheduled as soon as practically possible after the first observation. Again the teacher will be informed of the time and date and can expect a pre-observation meeting.

 

Requesting Observations

If a teacher wishes to they may request an additional observation. This may be because they are trying something new and would like some feedback, or perhaps they are having trouble managing a certain class. There is no requirement for the completion of any paperwork for these informal observations. The DOS should try to schedule an observation as soon as possible if this is the case and arrange the date, time and the length of the observation with the teacher directly.

 

Peer Observations

These can be valuable developmental tools. If any teachers are interested and the timetable allows these can be arranged with the DOS, but should not be arranged directly with other teachers, as LAL are required to know which teacher(s) are with which class at all times.

 

The Criteria

The following detailed criteria explain what LAL expect of their teachers. They have been adapted from the Cambridge CELTA/DELTA assessment criteria to fit the LAL curriculum and ethos. We have also provided suggestions for each section on “what the observer will be looking for” and “what teachers should try to avoid”. Although this appears to be a long list of criteria it is not as daunting as it first seems. For example if a teacher was to fill out the required lesson plan paperwork in sufficient detail, most of the “Planning and Preparation” criteria will have been fulfilled.

We also understand that no teacher can completely demonstrate all of these things during a short observation. Teachers should refer to this list when planning lessons in general and when they are preparing for observations but should try to teach as they do when they are not being observed. The observer will not use the criteria merely as a checklist during any observation. They will be used as a point of reference whilst the observer takes notes of concrete examples of teaching during the observation.

Planning and Preparation

The Round the World coursebook sets out unit objectives and provides a syllabus for teachers to follow. However teachers are also expected to show the ability to adapt the lessons and accompanying materials in a way that reflects the class needs with respect to age, nationality and ability.

As such the lesson plan and additional paperwork teacher must complete prior to their observation should:

  • include a brief overview of the learners as a group.
  • include information about individual learners which is relevant to the lesson.
  • set out clear and appropriate aims for the lesson (focusing on language systems and/or language skills).
  • outline any relevant link(s) between this lesson and subsequent/preceding lessons.
  • state assumptions made about the learners’ knowledge, abilities and interests relevant to the aims of the lesson.
  • explain any anticipated potential problems in relation to the lesson aims, the learners, the learning context and the materials, equipment and resources being used.
  • suggest appropriate solutions to these problems.
  • describe suitably sequenced procedures and activities appropriate to achieving the stated aims.
  • utilise materials and resources (which are fully sourced and well presented) that are appropriate and adapted appropriately.
  • be based around realistic timings for each stage
  • identify and state interaction patterns for each stage of the lesson.

 

What the observer is looking for:

  • the material has been adapted e.g. additional steps are added to the lesson plan to support weaker students
  • the teacher has familiarised themselves with the material and lesson content in such a way that allows confidence and smooth execution of the lesson
  • all stages are set up clearly, effectively and lead to observable outcomes
  • the teacher adjusts their role to suit the stages
  • supporting weaker students
  • challenging stronger students

 

Teachers should try to avoid:

  • just teaching the material without relating it to individual students
  • overlapping stages with no clear outcomes

 

Teaching – Delivery and Feedback

The LAL Summer School syllabus aims to improve students’ ability to communicate in English and to build their confidence. Well-paced, student-centred lessons are key to this. Equally important is the fact that everyone wants to know how well they are doing a job, English learners are no exception to this. Most learners are aware that their English is not perfect and expect teachers to help them improve it when they have made an obvious mistake. Positive feedback is just as important as error correction, if learners are left uncertain about whether or not they have successfully completed a task, they might become reluctant to participate in the future.

 

As such teachers should:

 

  • teach the class as a group and individuals within the group, acknowledging where necessary, learners’ backgrounds and previous learning experiences.
  • purposefully engage and involve all learners all of the time.
  • monitor, listen to and respond appropriately to learner contributions, exploiting learners’ language output to further language and skills development.
  • implement the lesson plan and where necessary adapt it to emerging learner needs.
  • identify errors and sensitively correct learners’ oral and written language.
  • manage the classroom space, furniture, equipment, materials and resources whilst exploiting these to support learning and achieve aims.
  • set up whole classes and/or group and/or individual activities, as appropriate, using a variety of interaction patterns to maximise the opportunities for students to express themselves.
  • deliver a coherent and suitably varied lesson.
  • use procedures, techniques and activities to support and consolidate learning (including plenaries) and to achieve lesson aims.
  • provide a clear context and a communicative focus for language.
  • provide appropriate practice of language items.
  • adapt their own use of language to the level of the group and the individuals in the group, whilst keeping unnecessary TTT (teacher talking time) to a minimum.
  • use language which is accurate and appropriate for the teaching and learning context.
  • give accurate and appropriate models of, and information about, language skills, subskills, form, meaning, use and pronunciation.
  • ensure the learners remain focused on the lesson aims by maintaining a lively and efficient pace.
  • use clear and concise instructions and concept checking questions
  • use a range of questions effectively for the purpose of elicitation and checking of understanding.
  • maintain an appropriate learning pace in relation to materials, tasks and activities.
  • monitor learners appropriately in relation to the task or activity.
  • ensure that all board work and materials are clearly and professionally presented.
  • teachers should reflect on and evaluate their own planning, teaching and the learners’ progress as evidenced in the lesson (using the Teacher Self-Evaluation Form).

 

What the observer is looking for:

  • the teacher to provide the students with enough time to answer and express their ideas
  • the teacher to encourage learner independence
  • the teacher to show an awareness of necessary and unnecessary teacher talk
  • a variety of interaction patterns used to encourage meaningful communication between learners.
  • the pace aimed at the majority of students, not only the weakest or the strongest.
  • concise and effective instructions.
  • the use of concept check questions to check understanding
  • clear, organised, legible board work that supports student learning.
  • the teachers adjusting their monitoring techniques, wherever possible, to suit the stages of the lesson and inform learner centred feedback.
  • the teacher using a variety of error correction techniques aimed at supporting learner independence.

Teachers should try to avoid:

  • talking most of the time.
  • classes which follow the same interaction patterns all of the time.
  • waiting for all students to finish before moving on.
  • moving on as soon as the first student has finished
  • explaining the answers to the students without involving the whole class.
  • displaying a messy or confusing board.
  • providing no feedback and/or error correction whatsoever.
  • only using praise or only using criticism.
  • not correcting errors in the target language being used.

Professionalism

Summer schools are fun but students still expect their teachers to behave like teachers, whilst creating and maintaining an atmosphere conducive to learning. Also as many of our students come from cultures which highly respect the teaching profession some disciplinary issues arise because students think they can “get away with more” here, this is not the case.

As such teachers should:

  • create a supportive and encouraging learning environment by establishing a good rapport with learners.
  • show an awareness of and the ability to manage cultural differences.
  • start and finish lessons on time and, if necessary, make any relevant rules of the teaching institution clear to the learners.
  • teachers should reflect on and evaluate their own planning, teaching and the learners’ progress as evidenced in the lesson (using the Teacher Self-Evaluation Form).

What the observer is looking for:

  • sensitive teacher behaviour which encourages learners to communicate in English.
  • the teacher dresses and behaves professionally.
  • the teacher is aware of different cultural needs.
  • the teacher shows the ability to deal appropriately with arising disciplinary issues.
  • the teacher to demonstrate on their Self-Evaluation that they have reflected on the lesson in question.

Teachers should try to avoid:

  • appearing or behaving in an unprofessional or immature manner, through dress or behaviour.
  • ignoring cultural differences between students.
  • being too harsh or too lenient when disciplinary problems arise.
  • being inconsistent in how they deal with any disciplinary issues that arise.

 

LAL Observation Document List

Lesson Plan Front Cover – to be completed by the teacher before the lesson

Lesson Plan Procedure (detail) Form – to be completed by the teacher before the lesson

Teacher Self-evaluation Form – to be completed by the teacher after the lesson

Formal Observation Feedback Form (cover sheet) – to be completed by the observer after the lesson and after the feedback session