2.” Observer should script the lesson and steer the bulk of the script toward the pre-agreed observation foci.”

The new four letter word out there is the D word as in data. Lesson observation within the systems framework that drives this blog is no exception. Gone are the times when supervisor could enter a classroom, observe it without notes and respond to its effectiveness solely on the so-called wisdom of the observer.

I know of a system briefly in practice in the 70’s, where just about every behavior, by teacher, and by student(s) was assigned a number. For example, a One (1) might have been Teacher asks question. A Two (2) might have been Student answers question, and so on. The observer was charged with looking up every 5 seconds to code the number that characterized what was going on at that time. Think about it. That meant that in a given 40 minute lesson the observer could very well have coded the activity in the lesson 480 times! But the “data” would enable observer and teacher to recognize the frequency of given lesson activities and diagnose from there.

I do not know of any schools where this supervisory method is currently operable and I can think of many reasons why it is not! Nonetheless the approach does have some merit in forcing the analysts, hopefully BOTH teacher and observer, to recognize the dominating activities in a given lesson, diagnosing why, assessing the merit thereof, and making decisions about the lesson’s effectiveness.

Today I am most familiar with “data-collection” via scripting methods. This requires the observer to try her level best literally record everything that happened in the lesson! However this is not the same as the coding method described above. Instead supervisor improvises a kind of personal shorthand to record all teacher and students do and say. Usually this becomes impossible and also usually in my experience, at best becomes a script of everything that the teacher says, and maybe does, and will often ignore what the students do and what the students may say. Not good.

Here I have a suggestion that works pretty well and again, is a result of a healthy Pre Observation conversation. Instead of transcribing, court reporter style, the “testimony” of the teacher, better that that there be a pre-agreement to script only the facets of the lesson that they agreed to pinpoint in the first place. So, as in the case of the dialogue of the last post, the supervisor may only record the teacher questions and student responses.

Doing so, enables the supervisor and teacher to filter the other “noise” to concentrate on what matters most to both of them.

And the sum of this post is best connected to Shared Vision (always), and primarily to Personal Mastery. This is so because ideally, supervisor and teacher will have collaborated in constructive dialogue (Mental Models) to identify areas of strength and of deficits so that the teacher and supervisor can pinpoint appropriate training and support to help the teacher get better at what she needs to get better “at”.