An Introduction to Classroom Observation

An Introduction to Classroom Observation

An Introduction to Classroom Observation

An Introduction to Classroom Observation

Synopsis

The first edition of this book was a bestseller, and is generally regarded as the most widely used and authoritative text on this topic.This completely revised and updated second edition takes into account the latest changes in educational practice, and includes coverage of recent developments in teacher appraisal and school inspection procedures.Ted Wragg is an international expert on research into teaching and learning, but has always been someone who writes with the teacher in mind.Using a combination of case studies, photographs and illustrations, Wragg shows how various people study lessons for different purposes and in different contexts. He explains a number of approaches in clear language and gives examples of successful methods that have been employed by teachers, student teachers, researchers and pupils.This is an essential text for anyone serious about becoming a good teacher or researcher in education.

Excerpt

Preface

I once observed a French lesson, part of which was taught entirely in French, with plenty of rapid-fire interaction between teacher and pupils. I was studying individual pupils in the class, so I kept note of who answered the teacher’s questions. After the lesson I asked the teacher to say roughly how many pupils had given an oral answer to her questions. ‘Oh, I don’t know, there were lots of hands in the air,’ she replied, ‘I think most of them did. About twenty to twenty-five, was it?’ The answer was eight. Perhaps it seemed like a lot more, but eight pupils, mainly sitting in the centre of the classroom, had actually responded. Careful classroom observation can help illuminate even the most familiar of events.

Observing the behaviour of our fellow humans is something we all start in babyhood and never finish until they finally screw the lid down on us. It is one of those taken-for-granted activities that occurs every day of our lives, in work, in the family, and in social situations. Much of what we see is repeated versions, with variations, of what we have observed many times before. It is because we have crossed the road thousands of times that we know what to look for, though the context will be different on each new occasion. We have the means of recog-nising what is familiar and what is novel, and this puts us in a position to make decisions rapidly about the speed of vehicles, their distance away, likely position in a few seconds, our own capability of walking or running at a certain pace and in a particular direction. Without the powers of observation and deduction most of us would have been dead years ago.

So if we already know all about our daily lives, why should we bother to hone the skills of observation? There are many reasons. First of all we may delude ourselves about what is happening. We often ‘observe’ what we want to see: harmonious relationships, effective practice, rules that are consistently followed. We may ignore or overlook what we don’t wish to see: disjunction, ineffective-ness, unruliness. I have seen thousands of lessons and read accounts of many more, yet often when I go into this familiar school environment, alongside all the

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