This one is from the same Nagi Noda who made
the other when I’m observed, I watch this.
I think these three–multiple, sequential, reciprocal–ought to apply to teaching observations. Were I a WPA, I would prefer an approach to classrooms observations that involved
multiple visits in a sequence of classes, if at all possible. I would also
prefer to see teaching observations arranged reciprocally, where each person
involved observes the other.
One-time teaching observations are good for verification, for affirming that
one’s work checks off as acceptable on a list of program, department, and
institutional expectations. But that is the end. Until next cycle. This is
the typical approach, right?, the automobile inspection version of teaching
A preferable (perhaps also idealistic) model is one where senior teachers (i.e., those with experience)
opt in and enter into a mentorship arrangement with new, inexperienced teachers.
This could work for new and returning TAs, too, depending on the nature of the
program. Each would observe the other three times in a semester.
They would also sit down to talk about their impressions, about in-class
happenings, about the shape of the course, its successes, its shortcomings, its
surprises, and maybe even student writing. Much of this interchange could
be handled via email, if schedules conflict. The culminating piece would
be a brief (few pages) record of the conversation representing both
participants, with some evidence of what materialized in their conversations.
It could even be formatted as a dialogue. This would go to the WPA would would,
in turn, sign off on a small stipend (oh, say, $50 or $100
bucks). These conversation pieces could also be circulated internally, turned
into a resource for future practicums, colloquia, and so on. There is not money
for this? Then it isn’t important enough to do. But this is a weak
defense when money (or release time, other forms of compensation) are already
offered for some form of observation and reporting. I’m sure I’m
oversimplifying. I’ve just been thinking about teaching observations over the
past couple of days.