6 Skills Every Observer Needs – And How To Build Them

By Learning Forward
June 2017
Vol. 38 No. 3
Classroom observation has changed dramatically in recent years. Trivial checklists have given way to research-based rubrics that describe important aspects of teaching and, for each aspect, explain the difference between more and less effective practice. Instead of asking if the lesson objective was posted, these new instruments typically ask to what extent the objective was clear to students, how well the teacher connected the objective to students’ prior knowledge, and to what extent the teacher reinforced the objective throughout the lesson. This clarity around what to look for in a lesson has tremendous potential. It makes it possible for different observers to reach the same conclusions about how well a lesson demonstrates a set of practices that matter to student learning. This is essential for

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Jeff Archer, Steve Cantrell, Steven L. Holtzman, Jilliam Joe, Cynthia M. Tocci, and Jess Wood

Jeff Archer ( is president of Knowledge Design Partners. Steve Cantrell ( is vice president for measurement and evaluation at Bridge International Academies. Steven L. Holtzman ( is a senior research data analyst at ETS. Jilliam N. Joe ( is founder of Measure by Design Consulting. Cynthia M. Tocci ( is president of Educational Observations. Jess Wood ( is a senior policy analyst at EducationCounsel.

This article is excerpted and adapted from the book, Better Feedback for Better Teaching: A Practical Guide to Improving Classroom Observations, published in May 2016 by Jossey-Bass. © Copyright 2016 Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. All rights reserved.

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