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College of Education


Daily/Formal Observations

One of the most important duties you have as a cooperating teacher is observing the student and communicating what you observed. Informal observations can occur anytime (classroom, hallway, lounge). Formal observations occur when you sit in the classroom with the specific intent of observing. Take notes as to what you see and hear, or use a data collection form that helps you organize your observations. It is recommended that you conduct one formal observation per week. When you meet with the student teacher to discuss your observations, use the evidence you gathered while observing. Evidence is the factual reporting of events. It might include student teacher and student actions and behaviors. It might also include artifacts prepared by the student teacher, students, or others. It is using professional judgment and capturing what is seen and heard. Use the data you collect to support the conclusions you share with the student teacher in the conference following the observation.

Classroom Observation Guide

During the first two weeks of school, most student teachers benefit from guided observation tasks, which help them become oriented to the students, teacher, and classroom. The student teacher should observe and interact with students as directed by the mentor teacher and answer as many of the following questions as possible. When the student teacher has completed the observation process the student teacher and mentor teacher should conference to determine the accuracy of the student teacher’s observations and conclusions.

  1. How does the mentor teacher make students feel welcome on the first day of class? How does the mentor teacher involve students during the first week of class so that students feel as though thy are a part of the class?
  2. How does the mentor teacher reduce student anxiety and fear during the first days of class?
  3. How does the teacher get to know the students before they arrive in class and during the first days of class?
  4. What are the classroom and school rules for students? What is the role of the student teacher in classroom discipline and management?
  5. How does the mentor teacher positively reinforce desired student behaviors in the classroom?
  6. How does the mentor teacher make sure that the students understand what has been taught?
  7. How are groups established? Why does the mentor teacher group students?
  8. Which students appear to be leaders in the classroom? How do you know?
  9. Which student have good verbal skills? How do you know?
  10. Which students seem to learn quickly and easily? How do you know?
  11. Which student appear to be socially skilled in the classroom? How do you know?
  12. Which students appear to be shy and reticent? How do you know?
  13. Which students appear to have difficulty getting along with others? How do you know?
  14. Which students need extra help to understand and participate appropriately? All the time or only in certain subjects? What do these students do when they are frustrated? How do you know?
  15. Which students appear to need more attention (positive or negative) from the mentor teacher and the student teacher than others? How do these students get the attention they want? How do they react if they do not get the attention they want? How do you know?
  16. What other interesting or unexpected things have been observed?

Morehead, M. A., Lyman, L., & Foyle, H. (2009). Working with student teachers: Getting and giving the best. Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield.(p. 53)