Maryland State Department of Education
Division for Leadership Development
Leadership Learning Series:
Structuring Informal Classroom Observations
1. Recognize the principal’s impact on student achievement.
2. Distinguish among the types of classroom visits focusing on the significance of the instructional informal observation.
3. Demonstrate how the purpose of the visit drives the informal observation process.
4. Determine appropriate feedback and management strategies that contribute to the effectiveness of the informal observation process.
The content in Structuring Informal Classroom Observations is based on the Maryland Instructional Leadership Framework, Outcome #4: Improve Instructional Practices through Purposeful Observation and Evaluation of Teachers. Other related leadership workshops emphasize purposeful observation of instruction and conducting effective post-observation conferences. This workshop focuses on informal observations, which are valuable additions to formal observations of instruction.
Effective leadership has a profound impact on student achievement. Observing classroom instruction is one of the most powerful practices in which principals engage to improve teaching and learning. Informal classroom observations provide valuable opportunities for more frequent interaction between the principal and the teacher. The visits and the follow-up conversations are important job-embedded opportunities for individual professional development because the data collected provides fertile ground for ongoing discussions about teaching and learning.
Participants will review research describing the principal’s impact on student achievement. They will examine the types of classroom visits and the importance of each one with the focus on informal instructional classroom observations. Participants will understand how the purpose for an informal classroom observation determines the student and teacher behavior look-fors, the length of the visit, the segment of the lesson observed, the means for taking notes, and the feedback method. They will discuss strategies for managing informal classroom observations within their school and apply concepts presented in the workshop to their overall approach to observing instruction in their schools.