A Check-list for Classroom Observations: In search of ‘quality’

From – “A Study on School Effectiveness: Education Programme Review in Bihar and West Bengal” Anita Rampal and Sharmila Bhagat, May 2003, Unicef (Mimeograph)

Classroom culture
  • Does the teacher have a rapport with the children? Do children speak confidently with the teacher? Are there moments of laughter?
  • Does the teacher address the entire class or is his/her attention monopolised by a few? If so, which few? Does s/he know the names of all children? Are some social groups/individuals ‘excluded’ in the class interaction? Are there some children who seem to dominate the class?
  • Are different social groups treated at par – for instance, children belonging to general castes/SC/ST, girls/ boys, Hindus/Muslims/Christians/Others? 
  • Is the communication in the classroom only one-way – the teacher asks and children answer, or two-way? Who speaks more – the children or the teacher?
  • Do the teacher and children listen to each other attentively? Do they communicate by speaking at a moderate (or an abnormally high) pitch and volume?
  • Does the teacher’s behavior show that s/he knows the children as individuals?
  • Is the teacher sensitive to the family and community context of the children?
  • What is the content of conversation amongst children?
  • Do the children cooperate with each other? In learning situations?
  • Does the teacher only sermonize, or does she facilitate a process of dialogue to resolve conflict? Does s/he help build relationships amongst children?
  • Do children participate in decision-making - about activities, class tasks, etc?
  • Does the teacher solicit and accept children’s suggestions in class?
  • Do children take up responsibilities on their own?
Curriculum transaction
  • Does the teacher explain a given topic/concept clearly, soliciting children’s understanding and prior experience? Is the topic handled routinely, only from the textbook, or creatively?
  • Does the teacher use maps, charts, pictures, or children’s creations with a sense of purpose, or in a mechanical manner, more as a ritual?
  • Does the teacher use children’s knowledge as a resource for teaching?
  • Do children answer in chorus or individually? Are they given time to think, or is there a culture of ‘pat’ answers? 
  • Does the teacher respond to each child’s answer (by elaborating, indicating the need to rethink, etc.) or does s/he quickly move on from one to the other? How does the teacher respond to a wrong answer?
  • Does the teacher encourage a plurality of answers or does she expect a single uniform answer to a given question?
  • Are children involved in meaningful tasks? Do they know what and why they are doing a given task/activity?
  • Do the given tasks address the learning needs of different children?
  • Do the children discuss what they had learnt in the previous class?
  • Are children encouraged to question, think on their own and discuss in groups?
  • How does the teacher respond to a child’s question – in monosyllables or by attempting to answer it in detail? Does she probe the child in order to understand her question/doubt better? 
  • Is the teacher able to say ‘I don’t know’ when she doesn’t know the answer, or does she try to dismiss/ignore the question?
Classroom management
  • Is the classroom display relevant to the ongoing activities?
  • Do the walls display children’s creations? Their current work done in class?
  • Is the classroom looking attractive and tidy?
  • Do the children help in setting up the classroom?
  • Are they sitting in straight lines/fixed positions? Does the seating arrangement change according to the activity? Can children see and interact with each other?
  • Is there space for children to move around or it is cramped and overcrowded?
  • Does the teacher move around in the classroom?
  • Are there different activities – whole group/small group/individual work? What does the teacher do when children are working in groups?
  • Does the teacher manage her time well, through different tasks and activities?
  • Does she use the blackboard effectively - in a clear, legible, and planned manner?
  • Does the teacher go out of the classroom? If so, how often and for how long?
  • If there is a problem in the class how is it handled? Does the teacher try to find a solution to it by involving the children?
  • Does the teacher punish/threaten children? Does she promise incentives, rewards?
Children’s interest
  • Are children actively engaged and taking interest? Do they seem to have a sense of belonging to the class? Is the attendance high?
  • Do the children seem disappointed when the period is over, or are they relieved, or indifferent? Do they continue with the task even after the period? Do they seem to wait for the next class?
  • Do the children take time to revise their work? 
  • Does the teacher check the work of each individual child? Does s/he use different methods of assessment – oral/written, games/creative exercises, collection tasks, and individual/ group work? Is there ever a process of self or peer assessment?
  • Is the process of assessment relaxed and enjoyable or are children anxious and tense? Do children see it as a competition with peers only to get ‘marks’, or as a ‘learning’ exercise to understand their own progress? 
  • Does the teacher recognise and respect the pace of each individual child’s learning? Does s/he encourage quiet children in the class to speak, discuss, etc? 
  • Are children able to express their difficulties in learning?
  • Are the records maintained properly? Any learner profiles, portfolios, teachers’ diaries? If so, are these used – in class, at cluster (CRC) meetings, in training, etc?
Thank you Anita and Kamini for sharing this with us.

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