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Teaching observations

What are teaching observations?

Teaching Observations give instructors an opportunity to get confidential, constructive feedback and valuable insights on their classroom practice from an expert. These observations create a safe and supportive space for instructors to reflect on their practices and grow professionally. By receiving feedback, instructors can identify strengths and areas that may need improvement, which helps them develop a personalized plan to improve their teaching skills. Ultimately, teaching observations contribute to the continuous improvement of teaching skills, fostering an environment of excellence and ensuring optimal learning outcomes for students. 

The CTL recognizes that teaching is a deeply personal activity, and instructors might feel anxious about having someone observe their teaching. The CTL endeavours to make the observation process a positive experience that supports instructors in recognizing and building on their strengths to promote the continued growth of their teaching practice. 

All records and information related to teaching observations are confidential.  

Note: Observations are not intended to validate or evaluate the quality of teaching for promotion, tenure or teaching awards and should be not requested for the purpose of including in a dossier.

When to consider a teaching observation?  

  • You wish to improve your students’ experience and your teaching practices.  

  • You want feedback on your teaching approach and techniques.  

  • You are willing and able to accept guidance to adapt your course and teaching. 

There is no ideal time to implement an observation, but if you would like to make an impact on your current course, it’s best to schedule the observation before the midterm point.

How do teaching observations work?

1. Request an initial meeting 
The instructor contacts the CTL to request a meeting to discuss the teaching observation. 

2. Define the goals and discuss the context 
During the initial meeting, the instructor identifies their goals for the observation, describes the context of the course and any specific concerns or areas for receiving feedback. The Teaching Consultant also reviews the process with the instructor. 

3. Schedule the classroom visit  
During the initial meeting, the instructor chooses a date for the Teaching Consultant to visit the class. It is best to select a lesson that will showcase your “typical” teaching in action or the specific techniques or approach for which you are soliciting feedback. You may want feedback on specific aspects of your teaching, such as classroom management, inclusivity, new pedagogical approaches, interactions with students, etc. 

4.The Teaching Consultant observes the lesson  
The Teaching Consultant will come to the class and sit at the back of the room to observe and take notes. The instructor should teach the lesson as usual. The instructor doesn't need to announce the Teaching Consultant’s presence. You may reveal as little or as much as you wish to the students. 

5. The instructor and the Teaching Consultant reflect on the lesson 
Following the lesson, the instructor will write a brief reflection on their perceptions of the lesson to share with the Teaching Consultant. The Teaching Consultant will also prepare their observations report. 

6. The instructor and the Teaching Consultant discuss the observation results
After the lesson, the instructor and consultant meet to discuss the draft observation report. This normally happens within a week of the observation so that recommendations can be provided by the consultant to the instructor in an effective and timely manner. They discuss what changes are reasonable for the instructor to implement and together make a plan.

7. Finalized recommendations are provided 
Shortly after the meeting, the consultant provides the instructor with a finalized observation report detailing recommendations to achieve the instructor’s goals.

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