An observation is usually carried if you are working towards a qualification. For example, if you are taking the Diploma in Education and Training, you will be observed for eight hours over the duration of the course. If you are a qualified teacher, assessor or quality assurer, you might be observed as part of your organisation's quality procedures and/or for an appraisal or a review.A more experienced person will observe you, and will give you feedback as to how you can improve, or what further learning and development you might need. This person might be your trainer/assessor, mentor or supervisor in your workplace.
The following text is adapted from the book in the picture.
Teaching practice is about demonstrating your skills and knowledge as a teacher or a trainer. It’s called practice as anyone undertaking it is not yet qualified. It will give you actual experience of what it’s like to be a teacher, in a real teaching and learning environment.
Teaching practice is a
great way for you to try out everything you have been learning during your time
working towards a teaching qualification.
Teaching practice is also a chance to try out new things, and to learn from your mistakes. If something didn’t work, you just need to reflect why, and consider what you could do differently next time.
Effective teaching practice should include:
You will need to let your learners
know that you are making a recording and that it’s to help you. You will need
their permission if they are included and it’s best to check with your
organisation to make sure you are allowed to do it.
All observers will want to satisfy themselves that you are using teaching, learning and assessment approaches and activities effectively. They will want to see that learning is taking place, that you are including all your learners during the session and differentiating for any particular needs.
Make sure all the
materials you have prepared are of good quality, are varied, address
inclusivity and differentiation, and are free from spelling, grammar and
punctuation errors. Don’t try and prepare too much at the risk of showing off,
or use any equipment you are not totally comfortable with. Make sure you have a
spare activity in case you have extra time available, and extension activities
to stretch and challenge learners when necessary.
Always have a contingency plan, i.e. hard copies of an electronic presentation in case of an equipment malfunction. You could also consider which activities you could reduce or remove if you are running out of time. Check the environment and equipment beforehand, and complete any health and safety checks and/or risk assessments. Make sure you have enough of everything for the number of learners you expect, plus a spare if possible.
You should have a session plan which shows a clear aim (what you want to achieve) and objectives or tasks which your learners will carry out. You should also state how you will check that learning will take place i.e. the different assessment methods you will use. If possible, it would be useful to ask your observer to comment on your session plan beforehand.Above all, don’t panic; keep calm and don’t try to do too much. You are still learning, and you will need to work at things over time. If you make a mistake, it’s fine and it shows you are human. Just be honest with yourself and learn from it.
Being observed, even if you are an experienced
teacher, can be a bit worrying or stressful, as you will want to deliver a
perfect session. However, you are being observed every time you deliver a
session by your own learners, it’s just that they don’t give you formal
feedback afterwards. If you are nervous, don’t let your learners know, as they
probably won’t notice. You are human though, and if
you make a mistake, your observer will be watching to see that you put it
You could give your observer details of your individual learners, perhaps in the form of a group profile. This will show how you will be differentiating to meet their individual needs, along with strategies to support them. Your observer may also want to see your record of attendance/register, and other relevant administrative documents. These might be electronic rather than hard copies, but they should still be accessible.
You might want to inform your learners in advance that the session is to be observed, and that you expect them to behave in their usual way. Otherwise, they might feel they should be quiet, not ask any questions, or ask too many questions to appear helpful which will give a false impression of what normally occurs.
You could introduce your observer to your learners and state they are observing the session, not them as individuals. Having a stranger in the room might lead to some behaviour issues if you haven’t forewarned your learners. If so, you must deal with these as soon as they arise and do it in a professional manner.
Try not to look at your observer whilst they are with you, they are not part of your group and will not participate in any activities. Don’t embarrass them by trying to involve them. They will be making lots of notes throughout the session; therefore try not to be concerned if they don’t appear to be watching you all the time, they will still be listening to what’s going on. Your session not your observer.
Don’t worry if you don’t follow your session plan exactly. As your session progresses you will naturally adapt the timings and activities to meet the needs of your learners. Your observer will not mind if you don’t keep to your timings as it will show you are being flexible to meet the needs of your learners.
Try and use a variety of teaching and learning approaches and activities to stretch and challenge your learners. If possible, use technology to support the teaching and learning process. Above all, make sure learning has taken place. If you are not using formal assessment activities, make sure you use informal activities which will enable your learners to demonstrate the progress they have made during the session.
If your observer stays until the end of your session, they should be able to give you verbal feedback when your learners have left. If this is not possible, make sure you ask your observer when you will receive their feedback which might be oral, electronic or paper based.
Ideally, the feedback should be given in a quiet area which will enable you to listen and focus upon what is said. You might also like to make some notes.
Hopefully, the feedback you receive will reassure you that you are teaching correctly, and that learning is taking place. However, if you receive some negative feedback don’t take it personally, your observer has only seen a snapshot of what you are capable of.
You might be given a copy of your observer’s
completed report, which you should read carefully. It would be useful to refer
to this when writing your evaluation of how you felt the session went.
Your observer might have identified some points for your further training and
development which you hadn’t considered. As part of your teaching
qualification, you might be required to keep a diary or a learning journal (see the resources at the end of this page). This will help you reflect upon what you did, or did
not do, over time. You might like to show it to your mentor or your supervisor
to gain their feedback and advice.
Some questions to ask yourself as part of the evaluation process could include:
You might find it useful to ask yourself the
questions in the bullet list after every session, and not just after
an observed session. Make sure you are honest, there’s no point being otherwise
as you will only be misleading yourself. Don’t be hard on yourself either, teaching
practice is a chance to learn from your mistakes, and to improve what you are
doing. Your observer should be experienced at what they do and their advice
will prove valuable to your career.
Whilst you are carrying out your teaching practice you will accumulate a lot of documents. These can be used as evidence, or proof, of what you have achieved.
Your observer will not see all of your sessions, therefore you need to prove that you have delivered a certain number of teaching practice hours with learners. Your sessions might not have been perfect, which is not a problem as long as you have learnt from the experience.
The evidence you could provide to support your teaching practice can include (in alphabetical order):
All the evidence you provide should be accessible to your observer if they ask for it. You might keep some or all of it electronically, or place copies in a ring binder or a file. If you save it electronically, make sure it is safe and secure, and make backup copies.
You may need to keep a log (see resources below) of the amount of time spent undertaking your teaching practice. You might be given a form to complete for this or you could design your own. You could give each piece of evidence a number, which will refer to where it’s filed (whether this is electronically or as a hard copy). Each piece of evidence could be referred to many times.
Teaching observation template (in Word) (£2.00)
A 3 page template which can be used and/or adapted for the observation of teachers and trainers during sessions. It is ideal for anyone working towards a teaching qualification or gaining QTLS status.
Observation checklist for the Certificate in Education and Training (in Word) (£4.00)
A 6 page template with detailed aspects and comment boxes. Guidance notes are included. Can easily be adapted to suit your own requirements.
Observation and question checklist for assessment unit: Assess occupational competence in the work environment (in Word) (£4.00)
A 4 page template with detailed information and questions for each of the assessment criteria. Can easily be adapted to suit your own requirements.
Observation and question checklist for assessment unit: Assess vocational skills, knowledge and understanding (in Word) (£4.00)
A 4 page template with detailed information for observing and asking questions for each of the assessment criteria. Can easily be adapted to suit your own requirements.
Observation and question checklist for IQA unit:
Internally assure the quality of assessment (in Word) (£4.00)
A 5 page template with detailed information for observing and asking questions. Can easily be adapted to suit your own requirements.
Observation and question checklist for IQA unit: Plan, allocate and monitor work in own area of responsibility (in Word) (£4.00)
A 4 page template with detailed information for observing and asking questions. Can easily be adapted to suit your own requirements.