Saturday, October 27, 2007

Multiple, Sequential, Reciprocal

This one is from the same Nagi Noda who made "Sentimental Journey,"
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 observations.

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.

Bookmark and Share Posted by at October 27, 2007 3:50 PM to Dry Ogre Chalking