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Observation Tools

Observation Tools

Author: Trisha Fyfe

In this lesson, you will learn about observation forms that may be used by coaches.

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Welcome, I'm Tricia Fyfe. And in today's video lesson, we're going to talk about the idea of observable tools. As we learn about this topic, we'll work towards one main learning objective in this video lesson. And we'll answer the following question throughout this lesson to guide our learning. What are observation tools and forms that can be used by coaches?

In today's lesson, I will be walking you through some various observation tools. In K through 12 schools, there are three main kinds of observation tools that are commonly used by instructional coaches and school leaders. These include a pre-observation tool, an observation form for a lesson observation, and an observation tool for a classroom walk-through.

Let's start with a pre-observation form. We use pre-observation forms to help the instructional coach focus on specific areas for improvement during the observation. We can include things like a description of the class, the teacher's goals for the lesson, the specific learning targets, instructional strategies that are planned, assessment tools, and any other areas where the teacher would like the observer to observe.

Here's an example of a pre-observation form. It's important to note that I'll be going over examples of each of these different kinds of observation forms and tools. So it might be helpful for you to pause and maybe even take a screenshot of these tools to review in more detail later.

You can see here that we have at the top the date of the pre-observation and a description of the class, so an area for the teacher to write information that is relevant for the coach to know and understand. And some questions like, what teaching methods do you plan to use? What student outcomes do you expect from this class? Which aspects of subjects or content and instructional skills will be the focus for this observation? How will learning be assessed?

What special characteristics of the students do you want to highlight? What resources will be used during the lesson? And these questions can vary. It's all dependent on the focus and the situation and the teacher and coach.

Next, we have the lesson observation form. These forms are used by the coach during the classroom observation. And they may include various ideas like, did the teacher discuss learning targets? Were instructional materials used effectively? What was the learning climate Iike?

Was there are a variety of instructional activities? What was the evidence of teacher preparation for instruction? What instructional methods were used? Were there opportunities for personalisation and differentiation? How did the teacher respond to student feedback?

How did the teacher attend the learning difficulties? Remember, the goal here is this is a guide for classroom observation. So again, you can pick and choose what questions will be best for your focus of the lesson. Let's look at an example of one of these. Here's the first page.

You can see here that on the left, there's a review section. And there's some content areas to look at for the coach. And on the right, there's an area for the coach to write a description or make comments on these areas.

On this form, in particular, there's things like, subject matter content, organization, rapport, teaching methods and presentation. The second page includes things like management insensitivity, as well as assistance to students. There's also a section at the bottom of this form for the coach to make some notes about the strengths that were observed and suggestions for improvement, as well as the overall impression of teaching effectiveness. And again, the wording on this form is not set in stone. So it's important to make sure that you're using a form that works for both you and your coach that you're working with.

Next, we'll look at the observation tool for classroom walk-throughs. Walk-throughs are effective when professional learning communities are focused on one particular area. For example, a school might use walk-throughs to determine strengths and needs in the area of response to intervention or the area of instructional strategies connected with the math workshop model.

The coach does a brief visit to the classroom with an observation form that has less detail than the lesson observation form. The walk-through observation form may take the form of a checklist with a rating scale of excellent, satisfactory, or needs improvement. Walk-through observation tools may include indicators related to classroom engagement, whether goals were posted in the classroom, effective classroom management, effective use of instructional strategies, teacher monitoring and assessment, effective use of technology, and purposeful discussion or a specific focus.

Let's look at an example of a walk-through form. And you can see here that there is a checklist. On the left hand side are all of the things to look for. On the right hand side, there's an area to score these. A 3 is evident, a 2 is somewhat evident, a 1 is not evident, and a zero is not observed.

Again, this is just one example of a classroom walk-through checklist. And you'll want to make sure that you're using one that articulates exactly what you want your coach to be looking for. Let's talk about what we learned today.

We looked at the question what are observation tools and forms that can be used by coaches? Today, I walked you through three different forms and tools for observation. We explored pre-observation tools, an observation form for a lesson observation, and an observation tool for a classroom wall-through.

I gave you examples of all three of these, and remember, these are just that. They are examples. So it's important to make sure that forms and tools are developed that meet your specific needs.

Now that you're more familiar with these concepts, let's reflect for a moment. Have you used any of these tools and/or forms in your own teaching thus far? What are the benefits and possible challenges to using each of these three types of tools? Thanks for joining me today in discussing the lesson observable tools. I hope you found value in this video lesson and are able to apply these three different types of tools to your own classroom and coaching experiences.

Now it's your turn to apply what you've learned in this video. The additional resources section will be super helpful. This section is designed to help you discover useful ways to apply what you've learned here. Each link includes a brief description so you can easily target the resources that you want.

Notes on “Observation Tools”


(00:00- 00:22) Introduction/Objectives

(00:23- 00:47) What are K-12 Observable Tools?

(00:48- 02:15) Pre-Observation Form

(02:16- 03:56) Lesson Observation Form

(03:57- 05:31) Classroom Walk-Through Observation Form

(05:32- 06:04) Recap

(06:05- 06:52) Reflection

Additional Resources

Observation Guide and Templates

The useful guide and templates from the Ohio Department of Education can be used as a model in developing and implementing a pre-observation process in your organization.

Educator Effectiveness Toolkit - Observation & Evidence

These useful tools from the Oregon Department of Education can be used as models in developing and implementing an observational process to improve teaching and learning.

Interview Protocol for a Post-Conference (Reflection Conference)

This form and protocol North Mason School District can be used as part of the post observation conference for the purpose of improving teaching and learning.