Answer ( 1 )

  1. When an observation is scheduled (announced), teacher and evaluator have the opportunity for a pre-conference to discuss the overall lesson plan, potential areas where the teacher would like the evaluator to focus to be able to offer instructional strategies/recommendations, it allows the evaluator to have an idea of what students are studying and the learning expectations prior to the observation. It is an opportunity for the evaluator and teacher to act and react as professional educators seeking ongoing and continued growth with professional dialogue.

    The downside to a scheduled observation is the potential for a teacher to prepare a lesson that is what some would call “a dog and pony show” inclusive of exaggerated strategies and learning plans, something not with in the continuum of the instructional unit but a good lesson, and/or preparing or coaching students for the observer.

    An unannounced observation allows the evaluator to “stop by” based on his/her schedule, validates planned instruction is occurring every day in a classroom, reduces the opportunity for teacher to be anxious/nervous about the observation, and reduces the possibility of a “canned” lesson. It also increases the likelihood for a teacher to be giving a text/exam, independent study by students, and/or unobservable learning activities. In this case, I have had teachers opt out for the observation stating, “Another day may be better.” I have also observed regardless of what is assumed to be unobservable instruction because a classroom is filled with evidence of learning/instruction by its design, contents, boards, physical arrangements, etc. I have noted the actions of a teacher in this type of learning environment; if there are agendas on the board; directions on the board for today’s lesson or for what is planned for the week; if student work is posted; what the students are doing; and I have spoken to directly to students about their learning.

    Finally and personally, I believe a balance of announced/unannounced observations is appropriate in teacher evaluation.

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