Classroom Observations: Research, Practice, and Principal Academy

For Principal Academy participants, classroom observations are emphasized as a way to support the use of high yield instructional strategies by teachers (for more on these strategies, see John Hattie’s book, Visible Learning for Teachers).  These focused observations promote conversations between administrators and teachers about teaching practices and are used as a springboard for regular communication about both teaching and student learning.  Observations in the Principal Academy are not only regularly conducted by administrators, but are also conducted by teachers as a way to encourage inter-professional dialogue focused on the use of high yield instructional strategies to promote student learning.

Principal Academy participants are not the only ones who have their eyes on this informative practice.  The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recently funded research that led to a published paper entitled The Reliability of Classroom Observations by School Personnel.  In this paper, Ho and Kane examine the reliability between administrative and teacher observers, and examine different combinations of observations that provide reliability coefficients of .65 or greater.

The full report can be found here:

Here are some questions to consider about classroom observations.  You may want to share these questions with your staff in conjunction with the article above.  Hopefully these questions, and your answers, will inspire dialogue among professionals throughout your school!

  • What do you believe are the benefits of classroom observations?
  • What reservations do you have about using observations to inform teaching practices?
  • What benefits might there be to including teachers as observers in the process?
  • How might you encourage observations and discussions about the observations to inform teacher practice and promote student learning?