Post-Observation

The post-observation is a follow-up meeting of the observer and instructor to bring impressions from the materials review and observation together in a focused conversation about teaching and learning, particularly in regard to the areas of special interest to the instructor, with a focus on enhancing practice.

The post-observation conversation focuses on helping instructors explore and develop their teaching.  It is not an opportunity to judge, criticize, or tell instructors what they should have done or what the observer would have done. It is an opportunity to “sit beside” the instructor and discuss what happened in class in terms of concrete and specific data.  During the conversation, it is important to refer to real events and real evidence and to explore, when appropriate, what and how students learned.  That focus on learning can be explored through questions about whether the learning outcomes were met, what specific evidence led to this conclusion, and what the instructor did to modify the instructional approach given this feedback.  Depending on departmental policy, the observer’s written observation report may be shared with the instructor in advance of the post-observation meeting. 

How can we shape the post-observation conversation?

Observers often begin this conversation by asking instructors how they think the class “worked.”  The remainder of the conversation varies depending on responses, actual events in the classroom, and targeted questions about teaching and learning.   It is important to refer to real events and real evidence and to explore, when appropriate, what and how students learned.  That focus on learning can be explored through questions about whether the learning outcomes were met, what specific evidence led to this conclusion, and what the instructor did to modify the instructional approach given this feedback. 

This conversation occurs in a dedicated time and appropriate place.  It involves dialogue between colleagues rather than monologue or lecture and depends on active listening by the observer. Careful questioning by the observer can expand the conversation and prompt analysis of and reflection on teaching.  The observer avoids authoritarian, judgmental language and refers to specific evidence and concrete details and focuses on what instructor wanted to learn from observation.  It is helpful to include plans for future experimentation and growth.

This conversation cannot be fully scripted in advance, but the observer can use the synthesis of information in the final observation report to help shape possible areas to explore in the conversation.  Questions tend to be open-ended and can be used to create opportunities for the instructor to reflect on his or her instructional practice and student learning.  These initial questions often lead to follow-up questions to clarify and deepen responses.  Learn More

Next: Reflective Summary

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