Classroom Observation

EDIT 2000 with Professor Gretchen Thomas

For my classroom observation, I chose to sit in on an EDIT 2000 course taught by Professor Thomas. This observation demonstrated a number of particular classroom management techniques, particularly those that are conducive to fostering positive interactions with students and forming relationships that are beneficial for the teacher and the student as they navigate the semester.

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Selecting EDIT 2000

I chose to observe this specific course for a number of reasons. Primarily, I was serving as instructor of record for an online section of this class at the time and wanted to compare the online section to the traditional, face-to-face delivery. I was also curious to observe the course with a focus on the instruction rather than the content because I took this course as an undergraduate many years ago. While the course has certainly changes, I thought it would be a valuable opportunity to see a learning episode from "the other side" of the curtain.

Interactive Teaching

The classroom session I chose to observe was not a typical, lecture-based session. Instead, Professor Thomas was running a review session as a means of gauging student learning and progress toward important course objectives. Creatively, she had structured this review session around the format of a typical bar trivia night, complete with points and wagers for each correct response. This provided the instructor with the opportunity to formatively and informally assess students and groups for their current progress, allowed students to utilize each other's shared knowledge to be successful in the review game, and served as additional time for student-content interaction without necessitating laborious or low-engagement study or recitation strategies.

Additionally, the instructor was masterful at filling every moment of the course with some kind of instructor-student interaction. Any moment which served as down time for the review game was an opportunity to roam around the room and generate informal and non-instructional interactions with students. This enables her to quickly and easily develop relationships with the students that assist with her teaching practices.

Evidence of Experience

Professor Thomas' experience teaching in K12 classrooms is clearly evident in the way that she manages her classroom, paces her instruction, and designs her learning episodes. Her personal philosophy of teaching also seems to be clearly articulated through the kinds of interactions she fosters and the elements of instruction that she emphasizes and de-emphasizes. It is also clear that she has many years of experience, as nearly every element regarding her classroom operation has been thought through and serves multiple functions. One of my biggest take-aways: never underestimate the value of a sign-in sheet.

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