Why Is Observed Teaching Practice Invaluable?
Some English training centers will require newly hired teachers to observe classes for a certain period of time. During said time, the new hire can become familiar with the general culture and atmosphere of the institutions learning environment. The new teacher can then also learn the rules of the classroom that students are expected to follow. In some cases, the observed teacher may sometimes include the new hire in activities so that the students begin to feel more comfortable with the newly hired teacher. During this period of observation, the teacher can start to establish rapport with students not only inside the classroom but also in passing outside the classroom. During my experiences teaching at various training centers and universities in Asia, I have observed and been observed many times, and I have gained much insight concerning the value of observed teaching practice.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Christopher P.
Building up confidence
Teachers can often become nervous while being observed by another teacher. I find that even though this can cause some initial discomfort, but once the discomfort is overcome, being observed helps a teacher become more confident in their craft and ultimately prepares them to become more successful when having to perform demonstrations for parents, evaluations, or future job interviews. As a classically trained musician prone to occasional stage fright, I found myself often drawing from my experiences performing in front of hundreds of audience members. Being observed in class is quite similar. The more a person performs, they become more adept at handling any discomfort that arises and refocusing that nervous energy into executing a successful performance. As an observed teacher, I do exactly that in the classroom.
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Teachers who observe classes have the opportunity to experience how classes are expected to be taught. They have the chance to actually witness the rules and regulations of the particular teaching institution being implemented. As with being observed, observing classes can often come with their own kind of discomfort. Teachers may often feel like they are invading or intruding on an intimate situation. They may also become bored. I, myself, have thought often, "Okay, I get it, this is your teaching style, let's move on. Do I need to be here to see this in its entirety?" While these feelings are valid, I have been put in situations so many times that I naturally discovered that there are some very wonderful advantages to observing classes.
Sometimes while observing, a teacher may have the chance to actually participate as a student and see things directly from the student's perspective. Perspective is crucial to more efficient planning lessons throughout a teacher's tenure. In terms of rapport and teaching methods, the observer can note what works, what doesn't work and sometimes be inspired to think of new ideas for what works. I was almost sometimes put off by the fact that my teaching style may not be exactly the same as the teacher I was observing, but there was always something positive I could gain each experience. Generally, observing other teachers adds to the arsenal of tools from which a teacher can pull when planning lessons and also during the lesson when a teacher needs to adjust the lesson at the moment if students are not responding well to the planned course of action.
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I found that when observations are taking place, the observer and the observed bond over the experience and share ideas outside of the classroom. This helps in providing a very positive and productive overall work environment. While it can be uncomfortable at first, once getting past said inconvenience, it provides for a more lasting bond that would not have existed without the practice of observation. This bond at its core is centered around professionalism and the drive to become a better educator which is, of course, one should always work towards.
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