At the beginning of this semester, I got a lot of questions from the first year students about teacher observations. Getting observation hours is mandatory for our state certification and also necessary for many of our class projects. Most of all, observations help teacher candidates decide on the all-important question of where to student teach. Here are my tips for teacher observations.Follow the rules!
Know who you are supposed to contact to set up observations. Some schools will allow you to get in contact with the teacher directly to schedule your observation hours while others require that you contact the Assistant Principal or Observation Coordinator. The best way to find out how to get your hours is to go on the school’s website and either get the number to call the school to inquire or get the Assistant Principal’s contact information. Not paying attention to this step can lead to not getting the hours you need.
Also, be sure to sign in and out at the school and follow any visitors’ protocols that the school may have in place. You’re a guest!
So you want to be a teacher? Look and act like one. Wear clothing that is professional while still being functional for helping teachers (some teachers will ask that you help them in the classroom as opposed to some who will ask that you sit in the back of the room and cause as little disruption as possible) with their lessons and students. Treat your observations like a job interview. Be polite, always, and know that your positive interactions with teachers, students, and administrators may potentially land you a student teaching position in your second year.
As a first-year student, many of your observations will have objectives that you’ll have to meet. Some of them will require that you interview teachers and interact with students. It can sometimes feel awkward to come to a class and speak to a teacher you’ve never met before. I like to come with some extra questions to use as icebreakers. Here are a few:
- How long have you been teaching?
- What’s you’re favorite art topic to teach?
- What brought you to teaching?
- Do you have any hobbies outside of school?
- Do you have any art events coming up?
Remember that teachers are really busy people, so be prepared with your questions and anything else you might need for your observation so no time is wasted. You might also have to ask to email them after the observation to get some of your questions answered.
Finally… relax! You will make a great impression.