Few things can be more intimidating for a teacher than to see a group of their peers watch them in action. However, you can learn a lot about best practices by optimizing your professional development opportunities (PDO), namely learning what look for when you have the chance to go on classroom walkthroughs.
Intentional Spatial Organization
Teachers set the tone for their students before they even set foot in the classroom. Focusing on enhancing the impact of the classroom organization can be an efficient way to improve student engagement. Think about these questions the next time you're invited to take a classroom walkthrough as a PDO.
- What's the center of attention? Although a teacher might not have very much control over the physical dimensions of their classroom, they can make a conscious effort to focus student attention intentionally. For instance, if all the desks are pointed directly at the blackboard at the front of the room, it might mean the teacher is more keen on lecturing and/or using visual aides like Power Points, videos, etc. Although this conventional approach to delivering educational instruction might feel normal, you might want to ask the teacher to explain the rationale for their arrangement. This can lead to a heightened awareness about what the teacher believes is the best way for his or her students to learn. Articulating these thoughts are sure to be a major component of any administrative assessment the teacher will face in a classroom walk through.
- How are the students grouped? Are students seated directly next to other students? If so, how does the teacher decide how to pair students? All of these questions can drastically impact a learning environment. You should be sure to observe how students interact with the peers in their proximity in the classroom. Having the teacher articulate their thought processes for deciding their seating arrangement can lead to much larger questions about classroom management and teaching strategies.
Levels of Thinking
Bloom's taxonomy can help educators guide the rigor of their instruction and assessments. When you walk into a peer's classroom, try noting the verbs used by the teacher and the students during classroom discussions. Once you have a bank of verbs, try matching them up to Bloom's taxonomy. Is the teacher asking questions with the same underlying verb? If so, is this line of questioning rigorous enough. For instance, if the teacher and students are constantly asking "what" questions, the level of rigor is likely to be relatively low.
To learn more about classroom walkthrough information, contact a professional near you.