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Observation Guidelines

Some courses require observations for projects, homework, or for general enrichment. These observations are intended to enrich your learning by seeing language classrooms in action as an observer. Please note that you are a guest while observing, and must adhere to all requirements of the instructor at all times. These instructors/departments allow you to observe as a professional courtesy to you and the School of Education, and thus you should conduct yourself in the highest professional standards possible. Because you are representing your school, you need to adhere to the requirements of the instructor whose class you are observing. When observing, the following general guidelines should be followed unless the instructor tells you otherwise.

What should I do when observing a class?

When observing a class, please follow the procedures below to minimize disruption to the students’ learning:

  • Obtain permission from the instructor in advance (via email, at least 48 hours in advance unless otherwise specified by the teacher that you wish to observe). Some teachers may require more notice, so you should find out their preference
  • Arrive on time and remain for your entire scheduled time.
  • Sit where the teacher asks you to
  • Be actively engaged in the observation (no outside work, texting, etc.)
  • Do not interrupt the class to add your own observations or corrections; interact with the students only if invited to do so by the instructor
  • Do not hold private discussions during the class (with students or other observers)
  • TURN OFF cell phones and other potential distractions before the class begins
  • Remember to obtain the instructor’s signature at the end of the observed lesson (if required). If an instructor finds your classroom behavior disruptive, s/he is under no obligation to sign your observation log
  • If the instructor requests that you leave the room (for whatever reason), please do so without questioning

I am planning on doing my observations at VIU. How do I schedule them?

VIU’s ESL department has made the following requests regarding observations of their ESL classes. Practicum students will need to obtain prior approval from the ESL Director and the instructor before observing any classes. You may obtain initial permission to observe by emailing the Program Director of the School of Language Studies.To schedule observations with an instructor, you will need to request permission via email no later than Thursday of the week prior to the week in which you would like observe. Unless otherwise instructed, you should await email confirmation of your request before observing. You will not be permitted to observe without having received an email confirmation of your request.

I am planning on doing observations outside of VIU. How do I schedule them?

You will need to seek approval from any outside organizations or institutions in order to do an observation. You should contact the program director or administrator for any program that you are interested in observing. Many program directors prefer that requests for observations come directly to them. Your Professor or the Dean of the School of Education may assist in identifying strategies to find sites to do observations in the Virginia area or beyond. It is, however, your responsibility to secure a site for observations. Upon finding a site that you think is suitable, you should consult with your professor prior to conducting any observations.