Week 7: What are the most important things to remember when observing your students?

observing students

After reading the resources for this essential question, having the teacher be the observer puts a little bias towards the observation process.  The teacher is quite involved with the students in a very powerful way.  The students are very much affected by the mere presence of the teacher.  I think the teacher, when making observations of the class, needs to be very meticulous about noting every minute detail, along with the subtle non-verbal ques and gestures students make.  Students can be very honest about a class, or activity when they are NOT in that particular class they are describing.  I know first hand what my own students in math class say about their social studies teacher, or science teacher, or language arts teacher because I hear them!  Sometimes I don’t think they are aware of my presence, and even my hearing ability of their conversations among themselves.

It can be challenging to observe one’s own classroom, but I think with these tools and strategies, it can be done effectively with some very careful observations.



Farber, Nancy K. (2006) Conducting Qualitative Research: A Practical Guide for School Counselors. ASCA Professional School Counseling. June 2006, p. 367-375

Kawulich, Barbara B. (2005). Participant Observation as a Data Collection Method. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 6(2), Art. 43, http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0502430.

Merriam, Sharan B.; Tisdell, Elizabeth J.. Qualitative Research: A Guide to Design and Implementation (p. 140). Wiley. Kindle Edition.




3 thoughts on “Week 7: What are the most important things to remember when observing your students?

  1. I find it also hard to think about observing my own class. All of the examples I have found has the observer not apart of the setting of the observation. I wonder if it is possible to video the class so that we can get proper data of the observation. I also keep reading about how detailed observations need to be which is very difficult to do while you are teaching the class at the same exact time.


    • There is always that gray area of recording video in the class. It’s such “new” technology (not really) but it does bring up some issues with privacy. I suppose if the video is for pure observation for the teacher, and no video will be published, it should be okay? I don’t know. It’s better not to, than to do it and find out you shouldn’t have! 🙂


  2. Gerald,
    Great point about non-verbal ques, I often forget to look at body language to see if a person is feeling uncomfortable. You don’t want to survey the class when the students are tense. You want the atmosphere to be comfortable so that the data is accurate and not environmentally charged. Great graphic too.



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