Leaders must develop the expertise to OBSERVE classroom instruction through the lens of the science practices.
CONTENT-SPECIFIC: Although often observations tend to reveal content-neutral features of instruction (e.g. classroom management, organization, student engagement), ILSP seeks to support supervision that is content-specific. Leaders need to learn to notice specific features of the subject they are observing. In the case of science, we believe observation focused on the 8 science practices is a powerful way for supervisors to support implementation of the new science standards. The science practices provide a lens that can be used across grades and science topics (e.g. force, biodiversity, weather).
DOCUMENTATION: Leaders need to determine how to document
their observation. Protocols or rubrics can help scaffold supervisors’ noticing. These tools should be made available to teachers to make the process more transparent. Teachers may also use these tools during
their own observations of peers.
FREQUENT & ROUTINE: Changing daily practice is not easy and cannot happen overnight. We believe that regular, consistent observations can support teachers best as they adapt to their practice. Frequent visits also ensure that leaders have an understanding of the scope of the class and are able to place their observations in the context of the class. These regular observations have the potential to foster trust and offer teachers more consistent and relevant support. By creating an observation routine, supervisors create a culture of ongoing learning and growth. Acknowledging the constraints of many supervisors’ schedules, we recommend that shorter, more frequent visits (10-15 minutes) are more powerful than less frequent long visits.
EMBEDDED IN THE CYCLE: It is important that observation is nested within a cycle of supervision. Observations lead to feedback which leads to teacher learning which leads to changes in instruction which can then be observed. As such, observations are one aspect of an ongoing conversation between supervisors and teachers about improving instruction.