Clinical Observation

Posted by on Nov 14, 2009


*This is a reflection post required for my JHU-ISTE Leadership program.

For this assignment, I was required to conduct a full clinical observation cycle with a teacher.  I conducted a pre-observation conference, a classroom observation, and a post-observation conference.  I was required to video the post-observation conference, and the following are my notes regarding what I observed as I reviewed the recording.

*  What strengths and/or improvement areas did you notice about the environment and tone of the post-observation?
The post-observation conference I participated in was conducted in a staff meeting room.  The room was an ideal location as it was quiet and conducive to this type of conversation.  I sat at a table across from the teacher I observed.  I noticed that I gave the teacher quite a bit of nonverbal feedback, and I would say I might have given too much of this at times.  I didn’t realize how much I nod my head in agreement when I’m in a conversation such as this, and I think I might need to find a way to reduce the frequency in order to increase the effectiveness of this technique.  I also offered a variety of verbal feedback throughout the conversation to ensure the teacher knew I was tracking and listening intently as she spoke.  I spoke in a clear, effective manner, and I believe my tone and inflection were both professional and relaxed.  I feel the way I engaged in the conversation would be a strength, and I believe I made the teacher feel comfortable and at ease while she shared her thoughts.  One area I can target for improvement was my periodic glances at my computer screen.  I did this to make sure I was moving us along the five domains that were to be discussed, as well as make observations from the notes I recorded.  Looking back at the video, I realize that doing this is an acceptable practice, but I have to make sure I don’t do it too early before the other person has finished a thought or sentence.  I don’t’ want to appear that I’m rushing the conversation or only thinking about how I’m going to transition into the next topic.

* What strengths and/or improvement areas did you notice in the conference about strategies to improve instruction?
As part of this observation, I collected data on how many times the teacher used a filler/transition word.  I shared this data with the teacher, and it came as a surprise how often she used such a word during the lesson.  The rest of the conversation was focused on the lesson as well as the teaching style and opportunities for students to engage learning the teacher generally employs with her students.  We discussed strengths and a couple areas that might be targeted for future growth, and the teacher noted at the end of the conference how helpful the discussion was for her.  While I pointed out specifics that I noted in the classroom, I also discussed in broad terms the educational philosophies and strategies I saw the teacher employ.  The conversation allowed for the teacher to reflect on her practice, and several goals were established as a result of the conference.

* In the conference, which behavior did you seem to predominantly use?  Do you think this was an appropriate approach given the developmental level of the teacher? Briefly explain
During this conference, I primarily used listening, clarifying, encouraging, and reflecting with the teacher.  She falls near the collaborative end of the continuum of behaviors, and while she is still a teacher with only two years teaching experience, she already uses sound practice and strategies to engage her students in her classroom.  There wasn’t any cause for concern, and the manner in which she taught and then reflected in the post-observation conference made any potential utilization of a more directive approach unnecessary.

This was an excellent experience for me personally.  The teacher I observed and I discussed how helpful it would be for all teachers to engage in a peer-coaching experience.  The information I gained about myself as an observer, and the information the teacher gained as a result were quite profound.  I look forward to the opportunity to use what I learned from this experience in the future.

Thanks to philcampbell for the use of the Flickr image.

1 Comment

  1. Frank Eastham
    November 18, 2009

    Excellent reflection Ben. You are absolutely right on regarding the computer screen. It’s okay to look at the computer screen, but we have to do so in a way that doesn’t imply we are bored, distracted, or rushing. Great insight. Also, you’re right on target with the purpose for the post-observation conference – it’s to get the teacher to reflect on their practice and how to strengthen it.


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