ENGL 0524: Approaches to TESL
Winter 1999
Classroom Observation #1

Arrange to observe a second-language class--one in which you are not enrolled--before January 25. Follow this format for your observation:

  1. Brief: Meet the teacher for 10-15 minutes before the class. Ask the teacher about the general learning objectives and purposes of the class, and have her/him walk through the planned lesson with you, explaining the specific activities and their objectives. This first step is very important since it will serve to orient you to the class you will observe.

  2. Observe the class for the full class period. Try to maintain your role as observer rather than becoming directly involved. As you observe, note down each of the activities or events that take place in the class and the approximate time and other details, if you feel they might be relevant. Then make notes on your observations of, thoughts on, reactions to, interpretations of, etc. these activities and events.

  3. Debrief: After the lesson, ask the teacher to talk a bit with you about what happened in the classroom: what they did, how they felt the lesson went, any comments on individuals or groups of students, etc. One good way to do this might be to go over your own understanding of the lesson activity-by-activity with the teacher, getting her/his reactions to your description.

Notes on observation etiquette: Observation etiquette dictates that: (1) you arrive on time for both the initial briefing and the actual class; (2) you take no more than 10-15 minutes (unless the teacher clearly indicates that s/he wants to take more time) in the briefing/debriefing sessions; (3) you assume as inconspicuous a role in the classroom as possible; (4) you are careful not to criticize the teacher at any point in the proceedings. By allowing you the opportunity to observe, the teacher is making a contribution to your professional development.

Written report: Write up your observations in a short report of 3-5 word-processed pages, to be handed in at the beginning of class, Monday, January 25. Likewise, be prepared to discuss your observations with the class on that day. You will receive a letter grade on the written part of this assignment according to the grading rubric included in this packet; this will represent one half of your "observation assignments" grade.