OBSERVING teachers in class seems to be carried out on a regular basis these days as special education officers are being instructed to check the way teachers conduct lessons.
It looks like the ministry is focusing on primary and secondary school teachers in “hot spot” schools as it is keen on seeing changes and academic improvements.
In the old days, teachers were observed by officers from the Education Department or the Education Ministry Inspectorate of schools twice a year.
These officers would suddenly appear in schools uninformed, and every teacher would be scrambling to update their folios and getting things in order.
Some teachers would be randomly selected to be observed in the classroom after which a report would be presented to them highlighting their strengths and weaknesses.
While it may be a good move, most teachers, tend to be stressed when observed by education officers.
The situation can be even more tense when the teachers concerned are senior in age and experience, while the observers are younger and without many years in service.
Most teachers may feel stressed and uneasy when discharging their duties. Even students in the classroom fail to respond naturally to the teacher. They become rather quiet and “closed” in the presence of an observer in the classroom.
Most of the student-teacher interactions in an “observation classroom” are artificial and do not reflect the real scenario.
Some teachers in “hot spot” schools are being observed every other week by such officers.
Such observations can either make or break a teacher.
While the initiative might be for the greater good of the school including teachers and students, it is not the best.
Since teachers in “hot spot” schools are now aware that they are being observed, they can come to class totally prepared for a lesson.
However, I believe that such observations do not bring the true and desired results. In fact, some lessons are a pretentious show which are solely meant for the observers.
Instead of intruding into the classroom and disrupting the natural flow of the lesson, it would be wise to have a more effective and reliable manner of carrying out the observations.
All classrooms should be fitted with CCTV’s or video recording devices that can record audio and visuals of the lesson which can be operated from the school head’s room or resource centre.
Education officers can select and view recordings of the lessons and write their reports based on the observations. Teachers too will take pride in their work because they will not know which of their lessons are being viewed.
In a way, teachers and students will not feel harassed and will not need to put up an act during lessons.
Viewing video recordings of lessons may turn out to be beneficial too as they can be used as a platform to select “exemplary” teachers.
The recordings of the exemplary teachers conducting their lessons can then be used by the authorities to motivate weaker teachers.
This is perhaps a better way of keeping tabs then having observers in the classroom as it can traumatise teachers.
As I mentioned, the presence of observers can sometimes intimidate those that they are observing. This can demoralise and demotivate teachers.
While observing teachers during lessons may not be the most effective method, it is currently the method used to assess and evaluate teacher performance in the classroom. However, my plea it is that it is carried out professionally, with consideration to the sensitivities of all parties concerned. Samuel Yesuiah Seremban, Negri Sembilan The STAR Home News Education Sunday August 24, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM