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January, 2010                                                                        Abdeslam	
  Badre	
  


	
  

          Towards	
  a	
  Reflective	
  Classroom	
  Peer-­Observation	
  
                                                                                                            Abdeslam	
  Badre	
  




ii. Introduction

         While teachers’ peer observation is receiving widespread interest, and is being
implemented in numerous institutions in different fields of education around the world
(more than 40% of US colleges and universities now use classroom peer observation), it is
still looked upon with much wariness within most Arab countries ELT context, which is
presently leading to consensual reluctance to incorporating it within the MENA regions’
ELT community and public schools alike. There appears to be some controversial
uncertainty, if not allodoxaphobia, over the rationale and the outcomes of such an
invaluable pedagogical tool. Part of this reluctance springs from a perpetual confusion in
the mind of some educationalists (by this I mean both teachers and practitioners) between
peer observation and regular observation at one level, and summative versus formative
observation at another level. The other part of this negative attitude is traced back in time
during pre-service and while-service observations teachers had with their senior teachers
or advisors. In either cases and particularly with in-service teachers, observation is
associated with evaluation and not with professional development per see. It is often
viewed as a potentially threatening experience in which teachers are often reluctant to take
part once they complete their initial training (Freeman, 1982).

        In light of this, touchstones of this paper are twofold: on the one hand, it is an
attempt to dissociate the traditional notion of observation from the modern one, based on
reflective aims rather than evaluative ends. On the other hand, it endeavors to promote a
systematic incorporation of peer observation within the professional and pedagogical
continuous training of Moroccan public schools. Will peer observation’s implementation
be an easy task? Of course not; otherwise, we would not be talking about “ELT global
challenges.” To reach this end, the paper comprises five main parts: 1) types and purposes
of observation; 2) traditional view versus reflective view on observation; 3) phases of
Observation; 4) strengths and downsides of peer observation; and 5) observation
instruments. Before tackling the first subsidiary part, I would like to establish a brief
definition of the concept “reflective/reflection” from an applied linguistic perspective.

i. Concept definition: “Reflection”

          D.A. Schon (1983) defines “reflection” as an “active persistent and careful
consideration of any belief or presupposition of knowledge.” J. Dewey (1987) took
Schon’s definition to a higher level, and talked about “reflection-in-action, ” which he
defines as a “reflective conversation with the material of a given situation/context.” In his
Experiential	
   Learning	
   Theory,	
   David	
   A.	
   Kolb	
   proposes	
   four	
   principal	
   stages	
   one	
   of	
  
which	
   is	
   “Reflective	
   Observation	
   (RO)	
   for	
   effective	
   learning.	
   Shared	
   among	
   these	
  


	
                                                                                                                            1	
  
January, 2010                                                                             Abdeslam	
  Badre	
  

three	
  definitions	
  is	
  the	
  notion	
  of	
  “persistent	
  consideration”	
  of	
  one’s	
  “knowledge”	
  of	
  
classrooms’	
   practices.	
   The	
   intent	
   of	
   this	
   “persistent	
   consideration”	
   should	
   lead	
  
observers,	
  accordingly,	
  to	
  the	
  consideration	
  -­‐if	
  not	
  analysis-­‐	
  of	
  the	
  internal	
  as	
  well	
  as	
  
external	
  factors	
  that	
  govern	
  a	
  teaching	
  situation,	
  before	
  questioning	
  the	
  pedagogical	
  
motives	
   or	
   judging	
   the	
   teacher’s	
   instructional	
   decisions.	
   Reflective	
   observation,	
   in	
  
this	
   regard,	
   drives	
   home	
   the	
   idea	
   of	
   multiplicities	
   of	
   learning-­‐teaching	
   styles,	
   along	
  
with	
  teacher’s	
  in-­‐action	
  remedial	
  decisions	
  in	
  the	
  mind	
  of	
  the	
  observer.	
  


I. Types and Purposes of Observation

        Regular Observation: it is the event of having pre-service or a novice in-service
         teacher observing one of the senior’s teachers’ classes before the former has
         his/her class observed by an advisor or a senior teacher who is supposed to a
         provide an oral or written feedback on what has been observed. A discernible
         feature of this type of observation is the asymmetrical power-relationship that
         governs both the observed teacher and observer. Observation in this context tends
         to be more judgmental and feedback is represented in a more official manner.
         Because of its evaluative nature and horizontal power-sharing structure, novice
         teachers tend to bread a negative impression toward this form of observation.

        Peer Observation: unlike the previous type, peer observation is arranged between
         peer teachers, usually teaching the same instructional levels, and with relatively the
         same professional experience. It is not a compulsory event in the sense that a
         teacher may deliberately ask to observe his/her colleague’s class or have his/her
         colleague observe one of the classes for the sake of exchanging feedback and
         optimizing teaching strategies. The nature of feedback in this vein may range from
         a verbal “thank you for having me in your class” statement into a face-to-face
         verbal or/and written feedback session.

        Three-way observation: this third form of observation was first introduced at an
         American college and then has slowly started to spread among other colleges. Its
         framework is similar to the regular observation with the inclusion of a student’s
         perspective. The rationale behind having a student taking part in teacher’s
         observation is originated from a learner-centered premise, which underlines the
         pivotal value of students’ reflections on teachers’ practices.
	
  
    Besides	
   its	
   educational	
   as	
   well	
   as	
   pedagogical	
   benefits,	
   classroom	
   observation	
  
serves	
   administrative	
   purposes.	
   For	
   instance,	
   while	
   formative observation assists in
improving teachers’ teaching tools and promoting cooperative teaching environment,	
  
summative observation involves the evaluation of teaching effectiveness used for merit,
and/or promotion, or other purposes of the same nature.	
  Gains from Observation, however,
remains dependent on the way the nature of teaching is understood by observers and
observed alike.	
  To	
  be	
  remembered	
  here	
  is	
  the	
  idea	
  that	
  both formative and summative
observations can be based on the same observation instruments, though both forms differ
in procedures and aims.	
  




	
                                                                                                                                   2	
  
January, 2010                                            Abdeslam	
  Badre	
  

II. Traditional view versus Reflective view on classroom observation

    For quite a long period of the recent past, classroom observation typically consisted of
subjective data based on personal and anecdotal accounts of effective teaching. Novice
teachers’ teaching skills’ acquisition depended on the mastery of specific repertoire of
observable behaviors that included but not limited to:

          How teacher starts and ends a lesson
          How teacher allots times within a lesson
          How teacher assigns tasks to students
          How teacher organizes learning groups
          How teacher monitors students’ task performance
          How teacher asks questions
          How teacher reinforces students’ answers

    In short, the observer role was limited to observe, describe, and then comment on the
“how” dimension of the observed. Being as such, not only did the feedback use to be
reductionist and subjective, for it used to be based on a biased data collection and analysis,
but also it used to threaten novice teachers’ creativity and lack of confidence toward their
own teaching style.

        With the advent of systematic classroom observation method, objective and
reliable measures of observation started to be implemented; thus a debate on reflection on
teaching, learning, and observation have become more of necessity than a choice.
Classroom observation within this conceptual framework goes beyond a focus on the
identification of the techniques and strategies experienced teachers employ. It has become
as an opportunity for teachers to develop a critically reflective stance to their own
teaching: Observers main task has become an objective data collection through the use of
systematic instruments that can be used to develop deeper understanding of HOW and
WHY the observed teachers teach the way they do. Accordingly, paving the way for both
cooperating and observed teachers to develop reflective approaches to teaching the same
lesson in various ways.


III.	
  Phases	
  of	
  Observation	
  

III.1. Pre-Observation Conference Guidelines

      The aim behind holding the pre-observation conference is for the observed teacher
to assign the observer a goal for the observation and a task to accomplish. The task would
involve collecting information about the lesson goals, objectives, used
strategies/methodology, and form of assessment. Both teachers may agree upon
observation procedures or instruments to be used during this session and arrange a
schedule for the observations. The following is a list of questions that the observer might
ask the observed teacher:

        What is the main goal of your course?
        What is the main goal of the course session to be observed?


	
                                                                                               3	
  
January, 2010                                               Abdeslam	
  Badre	
  

        What is your specific objective for the course session to be observed? In other
         words, what do you expect the learners to be able to know and do by the end of
         your session?
        What strategies/ methods will you use to help the learners to reach this objective?
        How will you assess whether the learners reached this objective? In other words,
         how will they show that they know and can do what you expected of them?
        Do you have any concerns that you would like the observer to address?



III.2. While-observing phase

The second stage of observation is a time wherein the visitation takes place. Using the
agreed-upon tools and procedures, the teacher observing should complete the observation
task without interfering in the performance of the teacher being, or in the teaching learning
process in progress. The main criteria that are controlled through different forms of
systematic checklists or grids are:

        Organization of the lesson: the opening, structuring, transitioning, and closure of
         the lesson.

        Time management: allotment of time of different activities during the lesson.

        Students’ performance on tasks: the strategies, procedures, and interactions
         patterns employed by students in completing tasks.

        Time on task: the extent to which students were actively engaged during task.

        Teacher’s questions & students’ responses: the types of questions the teacher asks
         during a lesson, the way students respond, and the way the responses are either
         reinforced or refuted.

        Teacher’s explanation: the way the teacher explains vocabulary, grammar, and/or
         syntactic items during the lesson.

        Teacher’s action zone: the extent to which the teacher interacts with some
         students more frequently than others during the lesson.

        Students’ performance during pair/group-work activities: Teacher’s arrangement
         of students into small groups, monitoring of students’ time-on-task during group
         work, the dynamics of group work activities, students’ use of L1 Vs. L2 during
         group work, and the kind of responses they make.

        Classroom interaction: the way the teacher monitors both teacher-student and
         student-student interactions.

        Use of textbook: the extent to which the teacher resorts to the textbook during the
         lesson and the types of departure made from it.


	
                                                                                               4	
  
January, 2010                                              Abdeslam	
  Badre	
  

Annex I at the end of this paper displays the above-motioned items, along with other
relevant questions. The model is adapted from Jack C. Richards’ classroom observation
form.



III.3. Post Observation Conferencing Guidelines

         The post observation session is the time where both teachers meet again for data
presentation and Analysis; and the “how to” and “why” dimensions are questioned and
justified for the sake of understanding, reinforcing and suggesting different alternatives.
No judgments or evaluative are to be made: the teacher observer’s task here is on the one
hand, to highlight the strongest points, activities, strategies, and techniques used by the
performing teacher; on the other hand, s/he may inquire about the reasons and rationales
of      unclear    situations    then    go     no      suggesting     some     alternatives.
Schedule this conference within a week of the observation. As to the timing of the post-
observation conference, the sooner it is held the more effective its outcomes are going to
be. In other words, teachers should not hold the meeting weeks or months after the
observation took place, because in the latter’s case it would be difficult to discuss or
explain what have happened during the observation. Also, it is always recommended for
the observer to start his/her feedback with a positive comment while providing an honest
feedback.



V. Strengths and downsides of peer observation

   Highlighted in this last section are both the strengths and downsides of peer
observation

       V.1. Advantages of Peer Observation

        Gaining new ideas and perspectives about teaching from colleagues
        Both observer and observe may improve teaching ability
        Good training for teacher training and ELT management
        Teachers might take feedback better if it comes from other teachers : they might
         take suggestions on how their class could have been improved better if it comes
         from a fellow teacher
        Letting teachers pair themselves up can also help make sure they get comments
         from someone whose opinion they respect and they will be happy to get
         constructive criticism from
        Teachers can get different feedback from different people : This is obviously a
         good thing, and one which can be further developed by matching teachers with
         people who have very different teaching styles and by having each observer
         especially looking for different things




	
                                                                                              5	
  
January, 2010                                               Abdeslam	
  Badre	
  

        Both the person being observed and the person observing learn This is the biggest
         advantage of peer observations. Teachers observing not only learn how to observe,
         but also see different ways of doing things in other people's classrooms and can see
         both good things and bad things that will make them reflect on what goes on in
         their own classroom
        makes the teachers understand how difficult observing and feedback can be When
         teachers have experienced trying to put a positive spin on criticism of someone's
         lesson, they should hopefully understand the difficulties the DoS has next time
         they are being officially observed
        It can boost a teacher's confidence Although teachers observing other people's
         lessons can tend to underestimate how much hard work the teacher is putting in,
         they still get a much more realistic picture of how other teachers are doing than
         they would get from just hearing the laughter coming through the wall.



       V.2. Disadvantages of Peer Observation

    As mentioned in the introduction, implimenting classroom peer observation as a
pedagogical tool is both a gain and a challenge, especially within the context of Moroccan
public schools that are already facing a number of structural, logistic, and human capital
challenges. Thoughout this paper arguments on the befefits of peer obervation have been
highlighted. This, of course, does not mean that peer observation is free of any
shortcomings. There is a relative consensus among pratictioners over some weak points
that I have outlined below.

        Possible bias relating to the observer's own beliefs about teaching
        Without a systematic approach--including observer training, multiple visits, and
         use of reliable observation instruments--peer observation may not be a valid
         method for summative evaluation
        Teachers seeing a "worse" teacher can get lazy. The negative version of a teacher's
         confidence being boosted by seeing the less than perfect lessons of others is that
         they could think "My lessons are already better than that. What was I putting all
         that effort into them for?"
        Teachers need training on how to observe and be observed. At a basic level,
         teachers need to be introduced to a range of different observation tasks (looking at
         classroom interactions, use of time, language used by the teacher, staging etc) and
         different ways of writing that data down in a factual way.
        It can actually take teachers more time management as well as training to observe
         each other,
        Teachers might think they know better than the person who observed
        The feedback might not be as useful as feedback from the senior teachers
        The feedback might be insensitive
        The fact that it is extra work might give people a bad attitude
        The students might get the idea that something is wrong: especially those students
         might have been in EFL classes long enough that they know that if an observer
         appears it usually means that another student has been complaining, in which case


	
                                                                                               6	
  
January, 2010                                                Abdeslam	
  Badre	
  

       you can imagine they might start to doubt their teacher is they have observers in
       every couple of weeks! Solutions include having regular observations as a selling
       point in the school brochure (for reasons of class quality and teacher development),
       and telling them that the observer is there to learn from watching their expert
       teacher rather than to judge them



Conclusion


To sum it up, just like all forms of observations, and/or professional development tools, an
effective classroom peer observation requires an observation instrument designed to
portray the classroom environment as accurately and reliably as possible; not to reflect the
teacher observing view or evaluation of the observed teacher’s performance. This is why
the observers are not to ask questions or participate in activities during class; such
behavior can detract from and invalidate the observations. He/she can be briefly
introduced to the students, with an equally brief explanation of why the observer is
present; then move on. The observer should be in the observed classroom a way ahead of
class starting time. Additionally, both teachers should invest some times reviewing and
discussing the results from the completed Classroom Observation Instruments. Finally, it
is always important for the observer to begin the conference with a positive comment and
still provide honest, constructive feedback.




	
                                                                                             7	
  
January, 2010                                                Abdeslam	
  Badre	
  


Classroom Observation Form

Observer:                                               Date:

Observed teacher:                                       Time:

Observed Period:                                        Level:

Students Category:                                      Room Number:


       1. Organization of the lesson: the opening, structuring, transitioning, and closure of
          the lesson.

       2. Time management: allotment of time of different activities during the lesson.

       3. Students’ performance on tasks: the strategies, procedures, and interactions
          patterns employed by students in completing tasks.

       4. Time on task: the extent to which students were actively engaged during task.

       5. Teacher’s questions & students’ responses: the types of questions the teacher asks
          during a lesson, the way students respond, and the way the responses are either
          reinforced or refuted.

       6. Teacher’s explanation: the way the teacher explains vocabulary, grammar, and/or
          syntactic items during the lesson.

       7. Teacher’s action zone: the extent to which the teacher interacts with some
          students more frequently than others during the lesson.

       8. Students’ performance during pair/group-work activities: Teacher’s arrangement
          of students into small groups, monitoring of students’ time-on-task during group
          work, the dynamics of group work activities, students’ use of L1 Vs. L2 during
          group work, and the kind of responses they make.

       9. Classroom interaction: the way the teacher monitors both teacher-student and
          student-student interactions.

       10. Use of textbook: the extent to which the teacher resorts to the textbook during the
           lesson and the types of departure made from it.




	
                                                                                                 8	
  
January, 2010                                            Abdeslam	
  Badre	
  



                                   Key	
  Readings


1. Latham G P, van den Berg P, Wiersma U J, (1995). Dutch Reactions to Behavioral
Observation, Behavioral Expectation, and Trait Scales. Group & Organization
Management (USA) . Vol.: 20; Issue: 3; P.: 297-310.

2. Edwards M R, (1996). Improving performance with 360-degree feedback. Career
Development International (UK). Vol.: 1; Issue: 3; P. 5


                                   Web-bliography

1. Alex Case, (2008). UsingEnglish.com

2. Jack C. Richards and Charles Lockhart. “Teacher Development Through Peer
Observation.”




	
                                                                                        9	
  

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Towards a Reflective Classroom peer.doc: ESL/EFL Teachers' Professional Training

  • 1. January, 2010 Abdeslam  Badre     Towards  a  Reflective  Classroom  Peer-­Observation   Abdeslam  Badre   ii. Introduction While teachers’ peer observation is receiving widespread interest, and is being implemented in numerous institutions in different fields of education around the world (more than 40% of US colleges and universities now use classroom peer observation), it is still looked upon with much wariness within most Arab countries ELT context, which is presently leading to consensual reluctance to incorporating it within the MENA regions’ ELT community and public schools alike. There appears to be some controversial uncertainty, if not allodoxaphobia, over the rationale and the outcomes of such an invaluable pedagogical tool. Part of this reluctance springs from a perpetual confusion in the mind of some educationalists (by this I mean both teachers and practitioners) between peer observation and regular observation at one level, and summative versus formative observation at another level. The other part of this negative attitude is traced back in time during pre-service and while-service observations teachers had with their senior teachers or advisors. In either cases and particularly with in-service teachers, observation is associated with evaluation and not with professional development per see. It is often viewed as a potentially threatening experience in which teachers are often reluctant to take part once they complete their initial training (Freeman, 1982). In light of this, touchstones of this paper are twofold: on the one hand, it is an attempt to dissociate the traditional notion of observation from the modern one, based on reflective aims rather than evaluative ends. On the other hand, it endeavors to promote a systematic incorporation of peer observation within the professional and pedagogical continuous training of Moroccan public schools. Will peer observation’s implementation be an easy task? Of course not; otherwise, we would not be talking about “ELT global challenges.” To reach this end, the paper comprises five main parts: 1) types and purposes of observation; 2) traditional view versus reflective view on observation; 3) phases of Observation; 4) strengths and downsides of peer observation; and 5) observation instruments. Before tackling the first subsidiary part, I would like to establish a brief definition of the concept “reflective/reflection” from an applied linguistic perspective. i. Concept definition: “Reflection” D.A. Schon (1983) defines “reflection” as an “active persistent and careful consideration of any belief or presupposition of knowledge.” J. Dewey (1987) took Schon’s definition to a higher level, and talked about “reflection-in-action, ” which he defines as a “reflective conversation with the material of a given situation/context.” In his Experiential   Learning   Theory,   David   A.   Kolb   proposes   four   principal   stages   one   of   which   is   “Reflective   Observation   (RO)   for   effective   learning.   Shared   among   these     1  
  • 2. January, 2010 Abdeslam  Badre   three  definitions  is  the  notion  of  “persistent  consideration”  of  one’s  “knowledge”  of   classrooms’   practices.   The   intent   of   this   “persistent   consideration”   should   lead   observers,  accordingly,  to  the  consideration  -­‐if  not  analysis-­‐  of  the  internal  as  well  as   external  factors  that  govern  a  teaching  situation,  before  questioning  the  pedagogical   motives   or   judging   the   teacher’s   instructional   decisions.   Reflective   observation,   in   this   regard,   drives   home   the   idea   of   multiplicities   of   learning-­‐teaching   styles,   along   with  teacher’s  in-­‐action  remedial  decisions  in  the  mind  of  the  observer.   I. Types and Purposes of Observation  Regular Observation: it is the event of having pre-service or a novice in-service teacher observing one of the senior’s teachers’ classes before the former has his/her class observed by an advisor or a senior teacher who is supposed to a provide an oral or written feedback on what has been observed. A discernible feature of this type of observation is the asymmetrical power-relationship that governs both the observed teacher and observer. Observation in this context tends to be more judgmental and feedback is represented in a more official manner. Because of its evaluative nature and horizontal power-sharing structure, novice teachers tend to bread a negative impression toward this form of observation.  Peer Observation: unlike the previous type, peer observation is arranged between peer teachers, usually teaching the same instructional levels, and with relatively the same professional experience. It is not a compulsory event in the sense that a teacher may deliberately ask to observe his/her colleague’s class or have his/her colleague observe one of the classes for the sake of exchanging feedback and optimizing teaching strategies. The nature of feedback in this vein may range from a verbal “thank you for having me in your class” statement into a face-to-face verbal or/and written feedback session.  Three-way observation: this third form of observation was first introduced at an American college and then has slowly started to spread among other colleges. Its framework is similar to the regular observation with the inclusion of a student’s perspective. The rationale behind having a student taking part in teacher’s observation is originated from a learner-centered premise, which underlines the pivotal value of students’ reflections on teachers’ practices.   Besides   its   educational   as   well   as   pedagogical   benefits,   classroom   observation   serves   administrative   purposes.   For   instance,   while   formative observation assists in improving teachers’ teaching tools and promoting cooperative teaching environment,   summative observation involves the evaluation of teaching effectiveness used for merit, and/or promotion, or other purposes of the same nature.  Gains from Observation, however, remains dependent on the way the nature of teaching is understood by observers and observed alike.  To  be  remembered  here  is  the  idea  that  both formative and summative observations can be based on the same observation instruments, though both forms differ in procedures and aims.     2  
  • 3. January, 2010 Abdeslam  Badre   II. Traditional view versus Reflective view on classroom observation For quite a long period of the recent past, classroom observation typically consisted of subjective data based on personal and anecdotal accounts of effective teaching. Novice teachers’ teaching skills’ acquisition depended on the mastery of specific repertoire of observable behaviors that included but not limited to:  How teacher starts and ends a lesson  How teacher allots times within a lesson  How teacher assigns tasks to students  How teacher organizes learning groups  How teacher monitors students’ task performance  How teacher asks questions  How teacher reinforces students’ answers In short, the observer role was limited to observe, describe, and then comment on the “how” dimension of the observed. Being as such, not only did the feedback use to be reductionist and subjective, for it used to be based on a biased data collection and analysis, but also it used to threaten novice teachers’ creativity and lack of confidence toward their own teaching style. With the advent of systematic classroom observation method, objective and reliable measures of observation started to be implemented; thus a debate on reflection on teaching, learning, and observation have become more of necessity than a choice. Classroom observation within this conceptual framework goes beyond a focus on the identification of the techniques and strategies experienced teachers employ. It has become as an opportunity for teachers to develop a critically reflective stance to their own teaching: Observers main task has become an objective data collection through the use of systematic instruments that can be used to develop deeper understanding of HOW and WHY the observed teachers teach the way they do. Accordingly, paving the way for both cooperating and observed teachers to develop reflective approaches to teaching the same lesson in various ways. III.  Phases  of  Observation   III.1. Pre-Observation Conference Guidelines The aim behind holding the pre-observation conference is for the observed teacher to assign the observer a goal for the observation and a task to accomplish. The task would involve collecting information about the lesson goals, objectives, used strategies/methodology, and form of assessment. Both teachers may agree upon observation procedures or instruments to be used during this session and arrange a schedule for the observations. The following is a list of questions that the observer might ask the observed teacher:  What is the main goal of your course?  What is the main goal of the course session to be observed?   3  
  • 4. January, 2010 Abdeslam  Badre    What is your specific objective for the course session to be observed? In other words, what do you expect the learners to be able to know and do by the end of your session?  What strategies/ methods will you use to help the learners to reach this objective?  How will you assess whether the learners reached this objective? In other words, how will they show that they know and can do what you expected of them?  Do you have any concerns that you would like the observer to address? III.2. While-observing phase The second stage of observation is a time wherein the visitation takes place. Using the agreed-upon tools and procedures, the teacher observing should complete the observation task without interfering in the performance of the teacher being, or in the teaching learning process in progress. The main criteria that are controlled through different forms of systematic checklists or grids are:  Organization of the lesson: the opening, structuring, transitioning, and closure of the lesson.  Time management: allotment of time of different activities during the lesson.  Students’ performance on tasks: the strategies, procedures, and interactions patterns employed by students in completing tasks.  Time on task: the extent to which students were actively engaged during task.  Teacher’s questions & students’ responses: the types of questions the teacher asks during a lesson, the way students respond, and the way the responses are either reinforced or refuted.  Teacher’s explanation: the way the teacher explains vocabulary, grammar, and/or syntactic items during the lesson.  Teacher’s action zone: the extent to which the teacher interacts with some students more frequently than others during the lesson.  Students’ performance during pair/group-work activities: Teacher’s arrangement of students into small groups, monitoring of students’ time-on-task during group work, the dynamics of group work activities, students’ use of L1 Vs. L2 during group work, and the kind of responses they make.  Classroom interaction: the way the teacher monitors both teacher-student and student-student interactions.  Use of textbook: the extent to which the teacher resorts to the textbook during the lesson and the types of departure made from it.   4  
  • 5. January, 2010 Abdeslam  Badre   Annex I at the end of this paper displays the above-motioned items, along with other relevant questions. The model is adapted from Jack C. Richards’ classroom observation form. III.3. Post Observation Conferencing Guidelines The post observation session is the time where both teachers meet again for data presentation and Analysis; and the “how to” and “why” dimensions are questioned and justified for the sake of understanding, reinforcing and suggesting different alternatives. No judgments or evaluative are to be made: the teacher observer’s task here is on the one hand, to highlight the strongest points, activities, strategies, and techniques used by the performing teacher; on the other hand, s/he may inquire about the reasons and rationales of unclear situations then go no suggesting some alternatives. Schedule this conference within a week of the observation. As to the timing of the post- observation conference, the sooner it is held the more effective its outcomes are going to be. In other words, teachers should not hold the meeting weeks or months after the observation took place, because in the latter’s case it would be difficult to discuss or explain what have happened during the observation. Also, it is always recommended for the observer to start his/her feedback with a positive comment while providing an honest feedback. V. Strengths and downsides of peer observation Highlighted in this last section are both the strengths and downsides of peer observation V.1. Advantages of Peer Observation  Gaining new ideas and perspectives about teaching from colleagues  Both observer and observe may improve teaching ability  Good training for teacher training and ELT management  Teachers might take feedback better if it comes from other teachers : they might take suggestions on how their class could have been improved better if it comes from a fellow teacher  Letting teachers pair themselves up can also help make sure they get comments from someone whose opinion they respect and they will be happy to get constructive criticism from  Teachers can get different feedback from different people : This is obviously a good thing, and one which can be further developed by matching teachers with people who have very different teaching styles and by having each observer especially looking for different things   5  
  • 6. January, 2010 Abdeslam  Badre    Both the person being observed and the person observing learn This is the biggest advantage of peer observations. Teachers observing not only learn how to observe, but also see different ways of doing things in other people's classrooms and can see both good things and bad things that will make them reflect on what goes on in their own classroom  makes the teachers understand how difficult observing and feedback can be When teachers have experienced trying to put a positive spin on criticism of someone's lesson, they should hopefully understand the difficulties the DoS has next time they are being officially observed  It can boost a teacher's confidence Although teachers observing other people's lessons can tend to underestimate how much hard work the teacher is putting in, they still get a much more realistic picture of how other teachers are doing than they would get from just hearing the laughter coming through the wall. V.2. Disadvantages of Peer Observation As mentioned in the introduction, implimenting classroom peer observation as a pedagogical tool is both a gain and a challenge, especially within the context of Moroccan public schools that are already facing a number of structural, logistic, and human capital challenges. Thoughout this paper arguments on the befefits of peer obervation have been highlighted. This, of course, does not mean that peer observation is free of any shortcomings. There is a relative consensus among pratictioners over some weak points that I have outlined below.  Possible bias relating to the observer's own beliefs about teaching  Without a systematic approach--including observer training, multiple visits, and use of reliable observation instruments--peer observation may not be a valid method for summative evaluation  Teachers seeing a "worse" teacher can get lazy. The negative version of a teacher's confidence being boosted by seeing the less than perfect lessons of others is that they could think "My lessons are already better than that. What was I putting all that effort into them for?"  Teachers need training on how to observe and be observed. At a basic level, teachers need to be introduced to a range of different observation tasks (looking at classroom interactions, use of time, language used by the teacher, staging etc) and different ways of writing that data down in a factual way.  It can actually take teachers more time management as well as training to observe each other,  Teachers might think they know better than the person who observed  The feedback might not be as useful as feedback from the senior teachers  The feedback might be insensitive  The fact that it is extra work might give people a bad attitude  The students might get the idea that something is wrong: especially those students might have been in EFL classes long enough that they know that if an observer appears it usually means that another student has been complaining, in which case   6  
  • 7. January, 2010 Abdeslam  Badre   you can imagine they might start to doubt their teacher is they have observers in every couple of weeks! Solutions include having regular observations as a selling point in the school brochure (for reasons of class quality and teacher development), and telling them that the observer is there to learn from watching their expert teacher rather than to judge them Conclusion To sum it up, just like all forms of observations, and/or professional development tools, an effective classroom peer observation requires an observation instrument designed to portray the classroom environment as accurately and reliably as possible; not to reflect the teacher observing view or evaluation of the observed teacher’s performance. This is why the observers are not to ask questions or participate in activities during class; such behavior can detract from and invalidate the observations. He/she can be briefly introduced to the students, with an equally brief explanation of why the observer is present; then move on. The observer should be in the observed classroom a way ahead of class starting time. Additionally, both teachers should invest some times reviewing and discussing the results from the completed Classroom Observation Instruments. Finally, it is always important for the observer to begin the conference with a positive comment and still provide honest, constructive feedback.   7  
  • 8. January, 2010 Abdeslam  Badre   Classroom Observation Form Observer: Date: Observed teacher: Time: Observed Period: Level: Students Category: Room Number: 1. Organization of the lesson: the opening, structuring, transitioning, and closure of the lesson. 2. Time management: allotment of time of different activities during the lesson. 3. Students’ performance on tasks: the strategies, procedures, and interactions patterns employed by students in completing tasks. 4. Time on task: the extent to which students were actively engaged during task. 5. Teacher’s questions & students’ responses: the types of questions the teacher asks during a lesson, the way students respond, and the way the responses are either reinforced or refuted. 6. Teacher’s explanation: the way the teacher explains vocabulary, grammar, and/or syntactic items during the lesson. 7. Teacher’s action zone: the extent to which the teacher interacts with some students more frequently than others during the lesson. 8. Students’ performance during pair/group-work activities: Teacher’s arrangement of students into small groups, monitoring of students’ time-on-task during group work, the dynamics of group work activities, students’ use of L1 Vs. L2 during group work, and the kind of responses they make. 9. Classroom interaction: the way the teacher monitors both teacher-student and student-student interactions. 10. Use of textbook: the extent to which the teacher resorts to the textbook during the lesson and the types of departure made from it.   8  
  • 9. January, 2010 Abdeslam  Badre   Key  Readings 1. Latham G P, van den Berg P, Wiersma U J, (1995). Dutch Reactions to Behavioral Observation, Behavioral Expectation, and Trait Scales. Group & Organization Management (USA) . Vol.: 20; Issue: 3; P.: 297-310. 2. Edwards M R, (1996). Improving performance with 360-degree feedback. Career Development International (UK). Vol.: 1; Issue: 3; P. 5 Web-bliography 1. Alex Case, (2008). UsingEnglish.com 2. Jack C. Richards and Charles Lockhart. “Teacher Development Through Peer Observation.”   9