Guidelines - Classroom Observations
Classroom observations are to be conducted 'pre' and 'post' program for the purpose of exploring changes in teaching practice that may have resulted from participation in the summer institute.

Pre-Program:

  1. Identify teachers whose classroom are to be visited. Telephone these teachers and include the following information:
    • They have been selected randomly from teacher-participants of the [Name of Program] to help us evaluate our program. Classrooms of several teachers in this and other programs are being visited to assess the overall effectiveness of NTEP programs nationwide.
    • Give names and titles of the one or two people who will come to their classroom to visit.
    • Ask them when is the best time to visit for both convenience to them and so that an appropriate lesson can be observed. [The most appropriate lesson will probably be during a discussion after having done an experiment or hands-on activity.]
    • Ask them if you should contact their principal in regard to the visit (see example letter to principal).
    • Let them know there will be a brief interview before conducting the observation and a debriefing interview after the visit; each of these interviews will take about 15 minutes of their time.
  2. Send teachers a reminder or telephone them about the visit if the initial telephone call and the scheduled visit are more than a month apart.
  3. When visiting, stop in at the front office unless you are told by the teacher there is no need. Wear clothes you normally wear to the office.
  4. Some teachers will have a time planned to talk with you pre-observation, other won't. If necessary, fill out the Pre-Observation Sheet after the visit.
  5. In the classroom, try to be as non-intrusive as possible. If you speak with students, ask the teacher's permission first. Some teachers will introduce you to their students, others won't.
Post-Program: Same as above from 1., second bullet.

Sample 'Pre' Classroom Observations: Letter to Principal

Name
Address

Date

Dear [Principal]:

I am writing to request permission to visit your school, [Day, Date]. I am from [institution] doing research in conjunction with [project]. Our research includes a classroom visit to randomly-selected teachers who will be attending the [Name of Program] this summer.

I will visit [Teacher-Participant's] classroom and conduct a short interview with her/him. I will not mention the name of your school, [Teacher-Participant's] name, nor the full name of any student in the report of our visit. There will be no press releases, nor will the visit be revealed in any way to the public.

I will be telephoning you next week to ask if your permission is granted, and to answer any questions you may have regarding my visit.

Sincerely,

Name of Person Sending the Letter
Title of Person Sending the Letter

Web Maintainer: ed-webmaster@fnal.gov
Last Update: April 1, 1997
URL: www-ed.fnal.gov/program_docs/instru/obs.html