Classroom Observations can be conducted in either of two ways: by a CTLT facilitator or by a faculty peer.
If you choose to have a CTLT facilitator conduct an observation of your class, we will guide you through a four-step process that includes a pre-observation interview, an observation, a post-observation meeting, and an “instructor action” component.
If you would rather have a departmental or other colleague observe your teaching, we can provide support for that process through some helpful peer observation tips and materials.
A Classroom Observation by a CTLT Facilitator is a four-part process that includes the following:
At the initial meeting, we will ask you to provide a context for the process by answering some questions about the course, your students, and your teaching.
During our observation of your class, we will arrive early enough to be seated in an unobtrusive location that provides a good view of the entire classroom and take notes as unobtrusively as possible.
At our follow-up meeting, we will provide you with a written summary of our observation and answer any questions you might have about it. We will also, of course, be happy to help you reflect on our observations.
For the best results, you will want to follow up on our observation of your class by taking some action designed to enhance your teaching. We will help you plan an appropriate course of action during the follow-up meeting and ask you to report back to us on the success of your actions after an appropriate implementation period has passed.
A Classroom Observation by a peer is a self-initiated, self-directed process for which CTLT will be happy to provide whatever support you and your peer observer deem appropriate. Generally speaking, you will need to:
Ideally, this will be a colleague from your own or another department whose teaching you admire and whose judgment and discretion you trust. It’s best NOT to choose a peer who is or may later be involved in evaluating your teaching.
The goal of this meeting should be to provide your Peer Observer with information that will provide a context for the observation. You may find it helpful to use some of the questions that CTLT facilitators use in pre-observation meetings. At this time, you should also review the policies listed below and determine the extent to which you and your Peer Observer wish to abide by them.
Ask your Peer Observer to arrive early enough to be seated in an unobtrusive location that provides a good view of the entire classroom. Encourage him/her to take unobtrusive notes rather than relying on memory.
At the follow-up meeting, your Peer Observer should provide you with a spoken or written summary of the observation and answer any questions you might have about it.
For the best results, you will want to follow up on the observation of your class by taking some action designed to enhance your teaching. Ask your Peer Observer to help you plan an appropriate course of action during the follow-up meeting and be sure to include some kind of formal reflection on your part as one component of that action plan.
Only instructors can request that Classroom Observations be conducted with their classes.
CTLT facilitators are not in the business of evaluating teaching. Facilitators are only in the business of providing candid, formative feedback to the instructor. Once we have provided that information to the instructor, only the instructor decides how it will be used.
Generally, information we gather as a result of the Classroom Observation process will not be shared with anyone else, at the university or beyond, without the instructor’s express consent. However, members of the CTLT staff may discuss an instructor's situation for professional development purposes, such as how to handle certain types of feedback or what recommendations can be made to support the instructor's teaching goals. We will provide a follow-up letter summarizing the results of our conversation with each class, and instructors are welcome to use those letters in any way they deem appropriate (as an addition to their teaching portfolio, as part of their annual ASPT report, etc.) We would be happy to send a copy of the letter to a dean, chair, mentor, or DFSC, but only at the written request of the instructor.
Classroom Observations are most effective when conducted after the third week of the semester. By the third week in the semester, students and instructors have generally settled into the routine of the class and established an observable classroom culture and patterns of interaction.