What Is a Teacher Observation Report?

A teacher observation report is a written evaluation of a teacher’s performance in the classroom. It can be conducted in various ways by means of administrative assessment, peer evaluation, and even student evaluation.

According to an online article by the Education Encyclopedia, classroom observation is a valid method of measuring competence. However, it is not always 100% airtight. Some of the major limitations of classroom observation include theoretical and epistemological criticisms, methodological concerns and pragmatic concerns.

Traits to Look for in a Good Teacher

When people credit their successes to their teachers, it is often not an exaggeration. The quality of a child’s education depends on how good a teacher is. A good teacher can sometimes be hard to find. And by good, this means a host of other positive characteristics that is not only limited to the teacher’s knowledge and expertise on a particular subject matter.

Open-minded: The classroom is a place for sharing ideas and thoughts. In order to maximize learning in the classroom, there needs to be an atmosphere that promotes a lively and healthy exchange of ideas. The teacher is in a unique position to help foster an environment that is conducive to learning. And on the part of the teacher, this requires a level of open-mindedness. If the teacher or instructor remains closed or unwilling to learn from his or her students, the flow of knowledge remains one-sided and therefore, limited. A good teacher knows that a classroom is fertile soil- where young minds are molded and a place that can help build their young potential. Thus, a good teacher is keenly aware that it is their responsibility to help bring out that potential in every student. Respectful: Two of the most basic and fundamental traits in every good teacher are respectfulness and compassion. It is no secret that there are some teachers who abuse their authority. And by account of their seniority, some teachers believe they are immune from any fault or error. A truly admirable teacher knows how to respect not just themselves, but their students and the student’s ideas. A good teacher does not put down a student just because they are in the position of authority and power. They are able to strike a healthy balance between compassion and discipline. Knowledgeable: A good teacher knows his or her subject matter by heart. They have the necessary knowledge and skills to impart to students and young people. In a lot of ways, a teacher can be seen as a mentor; and a mentor passes down all that he knows to a young apprentice or prodigy. Most students go to school expecting to learn something valuable. And if a teacher is unable to exhibit expertise in a certain subject, the student can easily sense that. A student needs to see that his or her teacher is confident in the subject matter so he himself can be assured of the lesson. Yet being an expert does not stop a good teacher from remaining open to new knowledge and different opinions. After all, true knowledge is not just about what is superficial and surface-level but more importantly, it is the depth of knowledge. Hands-on: A good teacher keeps his or her students engaged during every class session; and this can be achieved in a number of ways. A more dynamic and interactive learning environment can help keep students interested and eager to learn. This sometimes requires creativity on the part of the teacher. If a professor or instructor sticks to just traditional lecturing and does not make the effort to switch it up from time to time, sooner or later his students will grow tired and uninspired. A hands-on teacher will go the extra mile and try to foster an interactive and participatory learning environment.

Ways to Assess a Teacher’s Performance

There is no perfect way to assess a teacher’s overall performance in the classroom. The most fair thing to do is to combine various methods of evaluation in order to get the most accurate picture possible. Attending one class is not enough to determine whether a teacher is effective or not. It often involves more than one occasion to fully establish a decision. The following ways are just some common methods of assessment when it comes to rating teachers: 

Classroom Observation: This is an obvious one, but an easy and simple way to measure performance. School administrators or even principals may sit in during a class just to observe the teacher in action. How a teacher interacts with his or her students is but one aspect of classroom observation. A teacher’s knowledge on the subject and instructing style are points for evaluation as well. However, one session may not be enough. Multiple sit-in classes or observations may be needed to actually get a holistic and fair assessment of a teacher’s effectiveness. On a side note, class demonstration or simulation classes are even part of the requirements for would-be teachers and applicants. Student Feedback: Sometimes, students are made to grade their own teachers. It is, after all, their education that is on the line. At the end of a term or semester, students may be asked to rate their professors or teachers according to a prepared rubric. This is part of a comprehensive approach of assessing a teacher’s effectiveness and impact in the classroom. Student feedback is critical because they are the ones at the receiving end of the teacher’s instruction. If there are any unsatisfactory areas, students should be free to convey comments and suggestions if it will help improve the quality of their education. Peer Evaluation: Another way of measuring impact is through peer evaluation. This means other teachers or faculty members can observe and grade the teacher. In a lot of schools, subject areas are headed by a department head or a subject area coordinator. For instance, English or Math are separate departments and have a person-in-charge that oversees all the teachers under that subject. These area coordinators may be tasked to rate teachers by way of classroom observation and peer evaluation. This can be an important method of assessment because it allows teachers to share best practices, exchange feedback and constructive criticism with other colleagues who may have similar concerns and problems. Doing so may also encourage teachers to constantly be on their game and foster a sense of continuous improvement.

Tips for Writing a Teacher Observation Report

Whether you are a fellow faculty member or a regular student, if you are tasked to rate a teacher or instructor, it might be helpful to keep these tips in mind:

Be Objective: A teacher observation report is not an excuse to extract revenge for a poor grade or a failing mark. There are cases where students use teacher evaluations as a weapon to place the teacher in a bad light because of personal or emotional reasons, and past grudges. This should be avoided at all costs. Writing a teacher observation report demands responsibility as well as objectivity. It should never be an emotionally-driven or vindictive way to get even. Practice objectivity by truly reflecting on the given criteria. Make sure to read the instructions carefully and rate each item as it applies in the most realistic and truthful way possible. Be Impartial: Being objective is not enough, it goes hand-in-hand with impartiality. You also need the resolve to do away with any biases and preconceived notions. This takes a lot of self-awareness and reflection. Being impartial means that you can set aside your prejudices and preconceptions in order to arrive at the most objective conclusion possible. For example, one criteria for the teacher evaluation report is classroom management. A partial and biased rating would be born out of a dislike (or even extreme regard) for the teacher. The best way to rate a teacher is by setting aside those emotional inclinations and looking at it through a neutral lens. Be Fair: Lastly, any report should be fair and just. Fairness is inevitably tied with objectivity and impartiality. To be fair is to take an objective account of a situation or person. If you are tasked to write a teacher observation report, you must be willing to let go of any biases you hold. Biases may be conscious or unconscious. A lot of times, people are not even aware of their own biases and unwittingly apply it to their daily lives and decisions. But by cultivating one’s self-awareness, you can temper your blind spots and make better, fairer judgments. A good teacher observation report applies the notion of fairness in every item or criteria.

How to Create a Teacher Observation Report

To create a good teacher observation report, you need to ensure it is comprehensive and detailed enough. The more detailed or specific the criteria is, the easier it is for the person to answer. If you want to save time and effort, use an existing template above and simply modify it to your liking. Do not forget to follow these essential guidelines when creating your observation report:    

Step 1: General Information

To begin, key in all the basic information such as rater’s name, the name of the teacher to be evaluated, grade level, section or class, class size, subject, and date. Some reports do allow the rater to remain anonymous. In the case of classroom observation, you can also include the timeframe or length of observation. Aside from general information, you may enumerate a short list of the report’s objectives and other key instructions. Make sure these are stated clearly and coherently. It is best to keep both of these brief so as not to unnecessarily prolong your introduction. 

Step 2: Rubric and System of Grading 

A key element in a teacher observation report is the rubric or rating scale. This should be clearly and easily identifiable on the front page of the report. This serves as the basis of grading the teacher. Some rubrics are numerical while others are not. Rating scales may also vary according to the school. There are schools that use numbers as measurement, where 1 is the lowest and 5 is the highest score. While other schools prefer descriptive methods by using ratings like excellent, satisfactory, unsatisfactory, or needs improvement. Whatever the rubric, it is imperative that it is clearly explained and done so in a direct manner.     

Step 3: Questions and Criteria for Judgment 

Once you have your preferred rubric in place, you need an organized set of items for the rubric to apply. These items serve as criteria for judgement. The items could be simple questions or generic descriptive statements. To make it more organized, divide your criteria into different sections. Group your questions or statements accordingly. Some examples of general sections include classroom management or climate; quality of instruction, content or mastery or subject; student relationship and progress; work ethic; competency and professionalism, etc.  

Step 4: Comments and Suggestions

In case the criteria falls short or does not cover a particular aspect, it is imperative that you leave adequate space in the report for other comments and suggestions. It is important for your teacher observation report to contain a section dedicated to recommendations. The feedback given could be vital for the teacher and could help address any areas that need improvement. A simple comment box can suffice for as long as there is enough space to write down suggestions and other remarks.   

FAQs

How do you write an observation report for a teacher?

To write an observation report for a teacher, you need to create a standard criteria or rubric and come up with a set of questions or statements that will allow you to apply the rubric. To illustrate this, you can use any sample template from above and it will serve as a convenient guide and reference.

What is a teacher’s observation?

It is an assessment or evaluation of a teacher’s classroom performance by way of observing how the teacher conducts himself or herself in front of a class. It is meant to measure the competence, qualifications, and teaching style of a teacher or instructor.

What is a teacher observation checklist?

A teacher’s observation checklist is a guide that serves as a reminder on what to look for when conducting a classroom observation. Items on the checklist can vary from case to case. But common items include the teacher’s professionalism, mastery of the subject, classroom management, and application of lessons to real world scenarios.

Regardless of education level whether it is preschool, kindergarten, high school, or college, teachers need to be graded in order to ensure quality education. It’s important to note that parents, school administrators, and even students themselves are not only doing it solely for themselves but for the benefit and professional growth of the teacher as well. Make your own teacher observation report today by downloading any of the sample templates above!