What IS a Classroom Observation Checklist?

Every procedure needs guidance, or in this case, a checklist. Same in the classroom setting. Teachers, or educators, are guided by a set of checklists to ensure that proper procedures are met when it comes to teaching, learning, classroom set up and protocol, including tracking and monitoring students’ progress. This is what a classroom observation checklist is all about. It is a guide for an observer to use on how to properly assess the overall classroom setup and performance. The checklist allows for an in-depth assessment of classroom procedures and activities that ultimately affects a student’s learnings and performance, sort of a compliance checklist. A checklist could help identify areas in learning that needed improvement, and even help create criteria on how to monitor students’ learning progress. A classroom observation checklist is a classroom roadmap on how to gauge classrooms’ learnings, activities, and environment.

The Payoffs of Having Good Classroom Management

How you, as a teacher, manage your classroom is a reflection of your student’s outcomes in school, and even in life. Classroom management is somewhat akin to business management planning. There is a structure that needs to be organized. Some people need to be managed. Some resources need to be kept and maintained. And, some goals and objectives need to be achieved. There are a lot of reasons why there is a need to have good classroom management in place. Some of those reasons might not seem significant at first, but you’ll, later on, realize that the domino effects of classroom management are bigger than life. But why even go through the fuss of ensuring that you have an effective classroom management structure? Read on to find out why.

Anticipate Those Rainy Days: Those classroom rainy days are your unforeseeable circumstances. These are your emergencies, accidents, hazards, forces of nature, and so on. Of course, being unforeseeable as they are, you never know when these incidents might happen inside your classroom, that’s why a good classroom management structure should include contingency planning. One of the benefits of having classroom management in place is that it would enable you to anticipate and prepare for the effects of those unforeseen incidents, and potentially mitigate any adverse impacts it has on classroom learning, particularly to the student learners. Similar to a contingency plan, for instance, what can you, as the teacher-advisor, do in preparation for hazardous events, such as a fire breaking out? To prepare in advance, the basic practice includes fire drills conducted by your local fire department. It typically includes how to react when there’s a fire, locate the nearest fire exit, locate the nearest fire extinguisher if possible, and so on. What to do when there’s a serious physical injury that occurred to one of your students? Maybe a basic first aid training held by your local EMR (emergency medical response) team would be a start. Or, how about just as simple as a fight breaking out between your students? What would you do to anticipate such a possible occurrence? Well, consistent behavior warnings should be given way ahead before any actual fights occurred. Constantly reminding students of demerits or what will happen if they do not follow rules is a good start. And if a fight did occur, well, follow the standard procedure of talking with the students, bringing them to the guidance counselor’s office or the principal’s office, and even calling up their parents or guardians to inform them of what happened. That’s the benefit of classroom management. It points out what to do next in terms of any kinds of incidents.Efficient Teaching Time: One of the best things about having good classroom management is that teachers can effectively manage their teaching time. Classroom management often involves strategic scheduling; that would include scheduling for your lectures, activities, and even extra-curricular activities. Classroom management plan is similar to a lesson plan, or even sometimes built-in as part of the lesson plan. As a benefit of having classroom management, especially one that’s written down, is that you will be able to see clearly what activities go on what date and time, what time slot is vacant, what time of day has longer time allotted to it, and so on. And because of this, your efficiency as a teacher for teaching your class and leading the students’ increases. Efficiency is how you manage your time so that you can perform and maximize your productivity as a teacher, without wasting effort or resources. Sounds a tad bit overreaching, doesn’t it? Not really. Not if you have a classroom management structure in place. With a good management structure, you would find yourself running your classroom as smoothly and as efficiently as ever. Even kind of military-like, if you will. Now, that’s going a bit too far, but hey, nothing is impossible.Up Your Game in Classroom Activities: Perhaps the most fun benefit that a classroom management structure can bring. Well, on the learners’ side, perhaps. As a teacher, since you have a schedule in place for your lesson plans, now is the time to plan for those activities as part of your student’s academic and personality development. Classroom management is also about you, your relationship with your students, and their relationship with their classmates. It is about that conducive and positive environment contained within the classroom, and to help spread it outside of school. It is about building that relationship through creative and strategic activities that help them develop that character trait that they can bring along with them outside of the four walls of the classroom. These activities often encourage constant communication, the openness of communication, mutual respect for self, for others, and diversity. Creating these activities requires strategic planning. To guide you in creating these activities, following a SMART goal method is probably a good step to take. SMART means Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. An activity should be specific, meaning, an activity that is clearly defined. There should be clear instructions on how to perform the activities to avoid misunderstanding. The goals and objectives should be clear enough that the students can perform the activity confidently. Activity should also be measurable. Activities should be subject to certain criteria that the performances could be assessed, or could be measured, tracked, or monitored. A scoring system could be utilized for each activity. Next is that an activity should be achievable. Achievable means attainable. Can be done. Or even akin to being realistic. As a teacher, you cannot just create student activities that are next to impossible to be carried for your group of learners. You cannot ask your elementary students to go on a skydiving trip just to get a gist of what gravity feels like! Next, we have relevant. An activity that is relevant means that it is appropriate to the current subject or period. Take for instance in math classes. Karaoke singing is not a relevant activity to do for a math class, not unless you are that type of teacher who has an unorthodox way of teaching, and thinks that karaoke singing helps improve number mentality in class. Activity should also be time-bound. All activities should adhere to a timeline. As the cliche goes, nothing lasts forever. There is a reason why you created such activities, and those activities are created upon a sense of urgency. Hence, the need to adhere to a schedule and a deadline.Promotes Social and Emotional Growth: The goal of any teacher at the end of the day is to facilitate progress or growth in their students. It can be growth in terms of academic subjects, but also, more importantly, growth in the social and emotional aspects as well. And that is one of the benefits gained from having a good classroom management plan structure in place. As a teacher, you would want your students to keep on improving in terms of their grades. It would be good if they eventually achieve perfect scores, but a slow, steady progression of increase in grades is also good. But as a teacher, especially with your advisory class, you do not only want to have students who academically excel; you also would want your students to grow holistically, to develop good and positive character traits that they can take with them outside of school. Classroom management provides that opportunity for you to do so. Classroom management also creates an environment where your students can interact, communicate, and respect each other, hence, promoting their social and emotional growth. You never know. You might be having that one student who will, later on, be a future US senator or the US president, and you’re that one teacher who taught him all those good character traits that he’ll bring with him to the White House!

How to Make that Effective Classroom Observation Checklist

We have talked about classroom observation as a roadmap, a guide for an observer on how a classroom should be managed, run, and even prepared effectively and conducive to classroom learning. Classroom observation can be done as part of a teacher’s job evaluation or as part of the school’s improvement drive on a teacher’s performance or conduct inside a classroom which includes student relationships and teaching methods used. Although there is no hard and fast rule when it comes to creating a classroom observation checklist, still, the checklist should contain the core message or the core purpose of the checklist itself, which means that checklists should be flexibly drafted according to their purpose. Below are the following elements that are typically included when creating a classroom observation checklist.

  • 1. Title of the Checklist

    A one-liner title description of the classroom observation you will be doing. Usually, the title should also depict the purpose of the observation. A concise title description is a preferred way of creating one. Some examples of titles are (school name) Peer Observation Report; Observation Instrument; Dyslexia Teacher Observation Checklist; Teacher Assistant Observation Checklist; and/or Math (or any subject) Teacher Observation Checklist.

  • 2. Observer’s and Participant’s Details

    The next following lines should contain the name of the participant to the observation, such as the teacher’s name, and the name of the person conducting the observation. Other details that need to be included and recorded are the date when the observation was conducted, the time, the classroom number or details pertinent to the venue of the observation, the class number or type, or whatever the appropriate description is (such as kindergarten, grade 1, and so on), as well as the number of students present during the observation.

  • 3. Instructions

    The next line should contain the instructions on how the observation should be done and the checklist should be answered. This is where specific details on how the observation should be made are provided in detail, such as the observation conducted should be on the teacher’s lesson plan used or the teaching methods, and so on.

  • 4. Checklist Content

    A common checklist is usually done in question-type with a column selection of yes or no format, a score sheet, or a rating format such as rate according to 1, 2, 3, with 1 being the non-conforming answer, and 3 being the highest conforming. In other checklists, a comment, feedback report, or suggestion column is also added after the scoring or rating column. The comment column allows for the observer to add thoughts or opinions explaining why such a score or rating was given, and even allows the observer to provide suggestions for improvement.


What are some of the purposes of a classroom observation?

Classroom observations are integrated as an important part of any educational institution. One purpose of having a classroom observation is to help improve a teacher’s teaching ability through the scoring, rating, or feedback being given by the observer. This, in turn, impacts the overall students’ learning environment as well. Another purpose of doing the observation is that it serves as a survey for research institutions to help schools improve educational practices, to improve schools’ environment, or to help come up with solutions to existing school or classroom practices.

What are some of the things you need to prepare before observing a class?

You need to first specify the reason or purpose for doing the observation. Next is to identify which class to observe, or who is the subject of your observation. Afterward, set the schedule, the date, and the time of when you will be conducting the observation, and notify your participant. Next is preparing the classroom observation checklist. Once you’re done with the observation, make sure to record, assess, and analyze the information you’ve collected and the observation you’ve made to properly support your findings, conclusions, and recommendations.

What are some of the different classroom observation methods?

Some of the classroom observation methods, aside from the checklists, are questionnaires (both closed-ended and open-ended), surveys, charts, scoring or rating systems, narrative observation, and so on.

A classroom is where it all starts. Early life training is done in classrooms, aside from their homes. Students not only learn in terms of curriculum, but they also learn life skills and personality development which determines how they soon will grow up to be in life. That is why creating the right, conducive, and proper learning environment is important when it comes to education. Hence, the reason why classroom activities are conducted is based on a given set of procedures or requirements. These are all made sure to be implemented through timely observation conducted by the proper authorities. And what they use to ensure that everything is met according to standard procedures is a Classroom Observation Checklist document. 

Download our classroom observation checklist templates. Let our checklist templates assist you in creating that efficient and effective classroom observation process!