Great list. Just want to add some clarification on some.
Originally Posted by Anandamama
- Older children giving lessons to the younger ones.
Good one to put in. Just remember this doesn't always happen all the time. If you're observing and you do not see it happening, but you still see a lot of activity and learning going on, it's just because nobody has chosen to teach or learn that way at that time.
|- Children solving their own disputes without adult intervention.
And if the adult does step in, how does the adult handle the situation? The teacher should be helping the child learn how to develop the resolution skills, not just offering a quick solution and move on.
|- Teachers giving individual or small group lessons. Teachers should also be able to have time to simply observe the classroom in action, without taking an active role her/himself.
This may vary on the day you're watching as well. I have had days where students were doing things that required me to do three period lessons. (Geometric solids, letter sounds, puzzle maps) I hardly have times some days to observe. There should usually be a lot of time for observation.
This was different in Taiwan where I teach a foreign language to them. I've had to modify this some and put more direct teaching in as the students worked with the materials.
I like parents grilling me with questions. If you're able to observe and talk to an administrator/teacher at the same time, ask a lot of questions about what the child is doing and what they are learning from that activity. First of all, if you do not really know too many specific things about the materials, you will be fascinated. Also, you will see how much depth and understanding the teacher has of the materials.
Ask Philosophical questions. "Why is choice important in the classroom?" "Why don't you do worksheets and workbooks?" Even let the teacher struggle with the questions, as they may know the answer, but sometimes have trouble thinking of where to start.
Let them know it's ok to take their time and think about it before they answer.