What is a teaching observation?

The teaching observation experience has two primary components. First, a Koehler staff member observes you teaching during a class session of your choosing. Next, you meet with the same Koehler staff member a few days later to discuss the class session observed. The discussion is a supportive way to help you analyze your teaching and identify your strengths as well as areas for improvement. Teaching observations are offered the third to tenth week of all regular semesters.

Who can request a teaching observation?

Any faculty member, graduate student, or post-doc teaching at TCU can request a teaching observation. This is a free professional development opportunity the Koehler Center provides to the TCU teaching community.

How will a teaching observation benefit me?

The purpose of a teaching observation and consultation is to help you become a more reflective and intentional teacher. By observing one of your class sessions, the Koehler staff member will be able to discuss your teaching with you in concrete ways. The Koehler staff member will help you reflect on the teaching choices you made during the class session and on your understanding of your students and their learning. The Koehler staff member will also help you generate ideas for different teaching choices you might make in the future to help you more effectively meet your teaching objectives. Finally, the Koehler staff member will be able to get a sense of your class as a student might see it and share that perspective with you.

How do I schedule an observation?

To arrange a teaching observation, simply complete the Teaching Observation Request form at least two weeks in advance. Teaching observations are offered the third to tenth week of all regular semesters.

What will happen prior to the observation?

After you schedule your observation and consultation, you’ll receive an email from a Koehler staff member with a few questions about your course and the observation. He or she will also request a copy of your syllabus to review before the observation. Please respond to these questions and send a copy of your syllabus so that the Koehler staff can prepare for your observation. You’re also welcome to meet with the Koehler staff in advance of the observation for additional conversation.

What will happen on the day of the observation?

On the day of the observation, the Koehler staff member will arrive a few minutes before class begins and introduce himself or herself to you. The Koehler staff member will sit in the back or side of your class and be as unobtrusive as possible. You may want to briefly explain the Koehler staff member’s presence to your students, but this is not required.

During the observation, the Koehler staff member may be considering questions such as:

  • What is the mood before class? During class? At the end of class
  • How is the classroom physically arranged?
  • How does the arrangement influence teaching and learning?
  • How does the teacher use verbal and non-verbal communication?
  • How is the class organized and paced?
  • What types of questions does the teacher ask and when?
  • How does the teacher use classroom media (chalk boards, PowerPoint, etc.)?
  • How does the teacher motivate students and how do they respond?
  • What do the students do during class?

What will happen after the observation?

A few days after the observation, you will meet with the Koehler staff member to discuss the class session observed. The consultation is intended to help you become a more reflective and intentional teacher, using the particular class session observed to provide concrete examples of teaching and learning processes to discuss. To that end, the Koehler staff will likely spend much of the time asking you questions about how you approach your teaching, what you find challenging, the decisions you made before and during the class session observed, and your thoughts on ways you can better meet your teaching goals.

As a reminder, all conversations with Koehler Center staff are confidential.