Teachers need feedback, but observers are susceptible to bias and may not be able to tell if students are learning. How can we improve teacher observation? Expert Susan Werner discusses solutions.
Low literacy rates are a persistent problem in the Global South. Even with the increased enrollment in primary schools, illiteracy rates have not shifted. To actually move the needle on literacy, we need to focus not just on getting students into the classroom but on helping teachers be more effective. One of the best ways to do this — teacher observation as part of an ongoing professional development program — is also fraught with challenges.
Why We Need Teacher Observation
To address the problem of children not being able to read or write despite attending school, we need to take a targeted and systems-focused approach to improving education. One component of a high-performing education system is ongoing, evidence-based professional development for teachers which includes two key research-based elements. First, the use of classroom observation to support ongoing improvement to teaching and learning practices. Second, the use of formative assessments so teachers can continually track and fully understand student learning and can modify their teaching practices to meet student learning needs.
Classroom observations of teaching practices and accurate knowledge of student learning can effectively support in-service teacher training initiatives that incorporate ongoing coaching and mentoring for teachers. During each classroom observation, an observer uses an observation tool to collect measurable, detailed, and thorough examples of teaching and learning practices throughout the lesson.