Just like any activity in life, practice and evaluation are an important means of improving one’s self. Even granted as teachers, teacher must be monitored and evaluated too but in a formative way (peer teacher colleague) where it is friendly and supportive rather than a rating of one’s ability to teach like in summative observation. Formative observation is where teachers help each other by observing one another teaching strategies and give their feedback to improve each other teaching practices. Think of it as a coalition of teachers to provide each other professional teaching development practices as each teacher can benefit another through each own teaching practices.
In order for this formative observation to occur it has to be carefully organized into three phases:
- Preparing for the observation
- Observing the classroom
- Post-observation debriefing
This formative observation procedure must be taught to the teachers. After learning how to do the procedure and practicing it out teacher can self-reflect on their own teaching practices after observing their colleague, bring out positive changes in teaching in the classroom, and build relationships and professionalism among teachers in schools. This is all about to give productive and useful feedback to each teaching body.
1. Preparing for the observation, the teachers sit down and exchange information in a friendly and respectful manner. The teacher explained the learning range of the classroom (current strengths and weaknesses of the students) and what would be task would be taught, how far she expected the task to be completed and told the learning strategies that would be used to the observing teacher to observe.
2. Observing the classroom, the teacher would teach normally and the observing teacher would sit in the back having a bird’s eye view monitoring and taking notes of the teacher and students in the classroom and not interrupting the classroom.
3. Post-observation debriefing the teacher and observing teacher would exchange information. The observer would provide feedback during what was seen in the classroom and the teacher would justify the methods in teaching or self-reflect on the feedback all in a positive exchange. Learning strategies can differ from teacher to teacher so what the observer would be looking for is if the learning strategy the teacher used is appropriate for the class. Some observer feedback could be just lack of experience of the observer teacher because the observer teacher has never taught a class like the teacher has done and questions the teachers approach. Teaching is a lifelong learning career.
Teachers supporting teachers in peer/formative observation helps build strong teaching schools if supported by the school system. Students will ultimately benefit from this as teachers will be productive with one another in exchanging and building learning systems of positive exchange to each classroom.