Observation checklist

In the classroom itself you will have opportunities to observe experienced teachers dealing with a
variety of classroom situations; there could be no more valuable way of beginning your professional
training. However, teaching is a complex operation and it is difficult to begin with to identify and
see the significance of all the separate elements. Since teaching is a complex activity, good
teachers will vary their approach according to circumstances and their knowledge of the class being
taught; thus the checklist given below, is not all inclusive and you should discuss further any of the
points with the teachers with whom you are working.

It is inappropriate to take an Observation Checklist into a classroom and make notes but you
should have carefully studied the Checklist in advance so that the points made in it are in your
mind. You should, however, have a classroom notebook in which is kept a day-to-day record of
your activities in school together with any general points of class management and subject
methodology which you have observed, based on the Observation Checklist.


1. How is initial contact made between teacher and pupils?

      Compare how various teachers approach this with different classes. You might look at some
      of the following points - teachers' first gestures and statements; how teachers use their voices,
      eg loudness and tone; how teachers get attention etc.

2. How do teachers manage classes?

      How do teachers adapt their style for different classes, groups of pupils and types of lesson?
      How are the pupils organised? Are all pupils doing the same work? How is the work related
      to pupil ability?

3.    Questioning: How do teachers interact with pupils?

      How frequently do they ask questions?

      What type of questions do they ask? Yes/No, simple factual; extended response, inviting
      opinion, or speculation or personal experience?

      Do they direct their questions to specific pupils, to groups of pupils or to the class as a whole?

      How do they encourage pupils to answer?

4.    Response: How do the pupils respond to teachers' questions?

      Do pupils respond readily, reluctantly etc; by answering when asked, by offering to answer
      by raising their hands; by answering simultaneously?

      How do teachers make use of pupils' responses?

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      What do they do when a pupil's response indicates that the pupil has misunderstood the point
      of the question?

      How do they deal with the frivolous or erroneous answer?

      How do they encourage the pupils to respond more fully?

      How do they deal with group and individual work?

5.    Language: What sort of variation in language and tone do teachers use?

      What sort of tone do teachers use and when does it change?

      How do they adapt their vocabulary level to different age groups and different ability groups?

      How do they amplify their explanations - eg by comparison with personal experience, by
      reference to every day examples, by use of analogy?

      How do they vary the speed and manner of presentation to suit different conditions?

      How do they take the opportunity of explaining new or difficult words?

6.    How do teachers command attention, create motivation, keep control and maintain

      How do they use their voice, gestures and eye contact to do this?

      How do they change the pace of a lesson or change the activity in which the pupils are
      involved in order to maintain interest and attention?

      How do they ensure sufficient pupil involvement in the lesson to create motivation?

      Under what circumstances do they use praise, censure, humour and encouragement?

      How do they adapt to the varying ages and abilities of pupils?

      How do they deal with the unexpected?

7.    Termination of lesson: How do teachers bring lessons to an effective finish?

8.    Effectiveness of learning and teaching: how do teachers monitor and evaluate the lesson
      and individual progress?

9.    General

      What use is made of Information & Communication Technologies (ICT)?

      What provision is made for individual study by pupils, as distinct from whole class or group

      How were worksheets and other individualised learning materials used by pupils?

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      In what ways did the teaching methods for classes set by ability differ from those for other

10.   Wider Aspects

      School experience involves more than teaching: every school has a role to play in the local
      community, and for its pupils, the world of school is more than the world of the classroom -
      there are clubs, excursions, sports activities on the one side, and the influence of school on
      the development of the pupil's personality on the other, where the pastoral role of the teaching
      staff in providing guidance in personal matters as well as career choice is extremely important.
      All teachers are concerned in both these aspects of school life.

      You should begin your study of, and preparation for, this aspect of your future career by
      obtaining and studying a copy of the school handbook given to pupils and their parents. In
      reading the School Handbook, the following questions are worth considering:

      i) How does the school make its pupils aware of its expectations? (For example with respect
      to homework, uniform, discipline)?

      ii) What rewards and sanctions are provided for those who comply with and break these

      iii) What guidance is available for those with problems - academic or personal?

      iv) What liaison exists between the school and its associate primary schools?

      v) What steps are taken to make the transition to secondary school easier for first year pupils?

      vi) What steps are taken to help pupils make the transition from school to work?            (For
      example career guidance, work experience.)

      vii) What does the school do to integrate school and community? (For example, help for the
      elderly, work with the young or disabled, or facilities for adults to make up for missed
      opportunities or use the school's resources during or out of school hours.)

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