OBSERVATIONS AND FEEDBACK
The entire student teaching experience is designed to promote growth. Through both formal and informal observations, students should receive valuable feedback from the mentor teacher and their university supervisor. Through conferencing, student teachers are given opportunities to improve their own skills of reflection and self-evaluation. Feedback should be given to the student teacher by the following means:
Informal observation and feedback should be provided intern on a daily basis by the mentor teacher. This is an important part of the intern’s professional development and is critical to the success of the mentor-intern relationship.
The student teacher and mentor should set aside a regular time to review progress and plans for each week. Once the intern begins planning and teaching lessons, the university supervisor will make an observation visit approximately every two-three weeks. Each observation should be followed by a conference to reflect on the day’s activities, make constructive suggestions, and provide help as needed.
3. Mid-term Conference:
The supervisor, mentor, and student teacher will meet to complete a mid-term assessment of standards and dispositions. Any areas on the evaluation form marked as a “1” or “not met” must be accompanied by a “Personal Growth Plan Sheet” to set goals for improvement for each area identified. One sheet must be completed for each criterion that receives a low rating. The Growth Plan Sheet may be used at any time during the internship. The purpose is to emphasize the improvement of instruction and the need for a commitment to continuous professional development. The supervisor will work closely with the University Coordinator and the mentor teacher in developing strategies for dealing with any problems which might arise during the internship experience (personality related conflicts, intern absenteeism, etc.).
All participants in the mid-term conference (intern, mentor teacher and supervisor) must sign the Idaho Teacher Candidate Evaluation Form. They should then be returned to their respective College of Education office (Boise, Cda, or Moscow).
4. Final Conference:
The supervisor, mentor, and student teacher will have a final end of semester exit conference to once again review the Idaho Teacher Candidate Evaluation Form and to give formal feedback to the intern. The internship is graded on a “pass-fail” basis. The supervisor, in conjunction with the mentor teacher, will determine the intern’s semester grade.
All participants in the final conference (intern, mentor teacher and supervisor) must sign the Idaho Teacher Candidate Evaluation Form. They should then be returned to their respective College of Education office (Boise, Cda, or Moscow).
THE FORMAL OBSERVATION CYCLE
The formal observation cycle consists of three parts: (1) The Pre-Observation Conference, (2) Observation and (3) The Post-Observation Conference.
1. The Pre-Observation Conference
Mentors and supervisors should meet with the student teacher prior to any formal observations. The purpose of the pre-conference is to clarify goals for the lesson.
Typical questions the observer will ask at the pre-conference are:
- What is your objective for the lesson?
- How does this lesson fit in to the unit?
- What teaching strategy will you be using?
- What will I see you do during the lesson?
- What will I see students doing?
- How will you know when students have met your objective?
- Do you have any particular concerns for this lesson?
- Is there anything in particular you want me to look for in your teaching (transitions, pacing, management, questioning techniques)?
During the observation, the mentor or supervisor should collect as much specific information as possible. Here are suggestions of items to look for:
- The number of verbalisms (OK, uh, um, like) used by the intern
- The types of questions they are using (lower level v/ higher level)
- The number of students who are engaged or off-task
- Students who respond or are called on (are they using the same students and ignoring others, calling predominantly on one gender or students in one location)
- Teacher movement throughout the classroom
- Clarity of directions given to students
- Amount of time taken for transitions
- Specific student behaviors and reactions
3. The Post-Observation Conference
The post-observation conference should take place as soon as possible after the lesson. The purpose is to help the student reflect on what took place during the lesson and to evaluate what went well and what could be improved upon in the future. Typical questions the observer will ask at the post-conference are:
- How do you feel the lesson went?
- Did everything go as you had planned? If not, why do you think that happened?
- How did student behavior compare to what you had hoped for?
- How did students respond to your questions?
- How well do you think your objective was achieved? How do you know that?
- What would you do differently if you taught this lesson again?
As the student teacher reflects on the lesson, the mentor or supervisor should present the information gathered during the observation that either supports or contradicts the intern’s perceptions and give suggestions for improvement.
TIPS FOR OBSERVATION
- Feedback should be as specific and objective as possible. Give specific examples or data whenever possible. For example “John was texting” or “four students were off task and did not have out their materials”.
- Try to limit the number of concerns addressed in each conference to no more than two or three.
- Try to follow all observations with either a formal or informal conference.
- Establish a set time for formal conferences if possible.
- To encourage reflection ask the student teacher to identify their strengths and weaknesses and identify things that they would change if they taught the lesson again.
- During the early weeks of student teaching, stress growth rather than perfection. Compare them to other beginning teachers, not to the performance of a master teacher.
- Even when you are short of time, try to start each conversation with something positive instead of jumping right in with constructive criticism.
- Give examples of your own funny or unsuccessful experiences to put them more at ease.
- Be sure and discuss things in the terms of student behavior rather than just the performance of the student teacher. For example, point out if students appeared bored, restless, actively involved, engaged or enthusiastic.
- Follow constructive criticism with either the student brainstorming solutions or with specific suggestions on how to improve.
- Try to end on a positive note by focusing either on strengths or a plan of action for the future.