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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Observer as learner

Observer as learner

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The primary “learner” in this protocol is the observer. The observer’s only purpose is to learn how to
improve his or her own practice. Since the observer has little responsibility to the observed, the duration of
the observation and even the level of attention to what’s going on is determined by the observer, as long as
this is fine with the person being observed. This protocol may significantly increase the frequency of visits
to each other’s classrooms since observers may be able to do some quiet paperwork during their stay, and
therefore are more likely to use a prep period to visit another teacher’s classroom. The time involved may
also be reduced if neither party desires a pre-observation conference.
Pre-Observation Conference
It is not necessary to have a pre-conference unless either party would like to have one. A pre-conference
would help to orient the observer as to what will be happening.
The observer focuses on whatever s/he wishes.
The observer often asks the observed questions that might help him or her better understand the choices
made by the observed.
Given the potential feeling of vulnerability on the part of the observed in any situation, and especially
in a situation such as this where the observed may have little idea of what the observer is focusing on,
it’s important that the observer try to ask questions during the debriefing in a way that does not put the
observed on the defensive.

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Martin Richards's picture
Martin Richards
I train educators to use a coaching approach in their teaching practice

There is a protocol called SCORE that supports the Observer and Observed in much the way that zarudin describes.

Go with the teacher when he/she is working with a specific class / assignment. Observe their behavior generally.
Ask the teacher - What are the most important factors for working with this class / doing this assignment well?
Watch the teacher do a similar assignment, but this time observe their behavior with focus on the teacher's selected criteria.
Let the teacher reflect on their behaviour in the specific situation.
Create a new way to approach the situation together with the teacher.

In all the interactions the Observer asks open questions with genuine curiosity and non-judgement about the Observed's learning.

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