Lesson observation guide for primary teachers


Lesson observation forms a vital part of a teacher’s development, providing the tools and guidance required to ensure they’re delivering top quality lessons.

It benefits both pupils and teachers, as it should ultimately drive up standards and lead to improved teaching.

Here we look at what primary teachers need to know about lesson observations, including what those doing the observing are on the lookout for.

Why observation matters

Lesson observation enables a teacher to better understand what they do well in the classroom, alongside identifying areas for improvement. Ultimately, this should lead to actions which enable them to boost teaching standards.

Primary teachers watching other lessons can gain an understanding of best practices, can identify weaknesses and can recognise what needs to be done to enhance their own teaching.

Ahead of being observed, a teacher should expect adequate time to prepare, and head teachers should also notify staff of the desired outcomes of the process, especially if third-party observers are being used.

What observers look for

Any primary teacher should expect to be observed in a fair and consistent manner, meaning that those doing the observing should view each lesson with an open mind. They’ll be particularly interested in how children are learning while looking closely at the role the teacher plays in influencing that process.

In addition to this, observers will be looking for clear structure within lessons, which demonstrates that they are well-planned and have the core learning aims in mind. They’ll look for enthusiasm and consistency in teaching, alongside how pupils engage with the learning materials, the teacher, and each other.

It’s also likely that observers will look at how teaching assistants are used in the classroom setting, should they be present. This will ensure that they are being used in the right way and that they are best placed to provide the necessary support to pupils.

What teachers should expect after observation

Following a period of observation, primary teachers should expect to receive specific feedback that relates to certain strengths and weaknesses, rather than a set of generic areas for improvement.

This should enable a set of developmental discussions to take place, whereby targets can be set and areas to focus on can be identified. Such chats should also consider the types of support and training that could be offered to ensure that a teacher is best equipped to drive up standards in the classroom.

It is also not unreasonable for a primary teacher to request to see any notes relating to their period of observation, as again, these might help to identify areas for improvement.

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