1.6: Observations

Time allocation

55 minutes


  • You should use this time to plan and carry out observations of colleagues or be observed yourself. Use the form below to record the key things you observed or learned. 
  • Record what you plan to do yourself in your practice as a result. 
  • In Mentor Session 1.6, you will have a chance to reflect on what you learn from observing other colleagues or being observed yourself.
  • You might choose to observe or be observed on one of the foci below or on a range of the foci.
  • Use the suggested observation ideas below to plan your observations. You don’t need to do all of them but choose the one(s) that you feel will be most helpful – your mentor can help you plan this. 
  • You can use the adaptable observation handout (PDF) to make notes on the observation. 
  • You could use video to carry out your observations. Videoing your lessons gives you the opportunity to review what is happening in your classroom and see for yourself which strategies are most effective. You can share the video with your mentor.

The intended outcomes of this activity are for you to:

Learn that
1.1 Teachers have the ability to affect and improve the wellbeing, motivation and behaviour of their pupils.
1.4 Setting clear expectations can help communicate shared values that improve classroom and school culture.
7.1 Establishing and reinforcing routines, including through positive reinforcement, can help create an effective learning environment.
7.2 A predictable and secure environment benefits all pupils but is particularly valuable for pupils with special educational needs.
Learn how to
Develop a positive, predictable and safe environment for pupils, by: 
7a Establishing a supportive and inclusive environment with a predictable system of reward and sanction in the classroom.
7c Giving manageable, specific and sequential instructions.
7d Checking pupils’ understanding of instructions before a task begins.
7e Using consistent language and non-verbal signals for common classroom directions.
7f Using early and least-intrusive interventions as an initial response to low level disruption. 
7g Responding quickly to any behaviour or bullying that threatens emotional safety. 
Establish effective routines and expectations, by: 
7h Creating and explicitly teaching routines in line with the school ethos that maximise time for learning (e.g. setting and reinforcing expectations about key transition points).
7j Reinforcing routines (e.g. by articulating the link between time on task and success).

Ideas for observations in advance of Mentor Session 1.6

Observation focus Possible focus during the observation:
Establishing routines
  • What routines are in place? 
  • Do the pupils follow the routines closely?
  • What does the teacher say and do to reinforce the routines?
  • How does the teacher make their expectations clear?
  • What is the impact on pupil learning?
Giving clear instructions
  • How does the teacher make their instructions clear?
  • How does the teacher check for understanding?
  • Does the teacher use economy of language?
  • How does the teacher ensure all pupils get started?
Praise to reinforce behaviour
  • How does the teacher use praise?
  • What specific words does the teacher use?
  • How do pupils react?
  • What is the impact on behaviour?
Verbal and non-verbal reminders
  • When pupils start a task, what does the teacher do?
  • What does the teacher say?
  • How do they use body language and non-verbal reminders to indicate to pupils what they should be doing?
  • Where does the teacher position themselves in the room?
  • What is the impact of this?

In your notepad

Mentor session Focus Who was observed/ did you speak to? What happened?
2 Plan to observe a colleague to identify how they use routines in their classroom and how these are reinforced.
3 Plan to observe a colleague who gives clear, concise instructions and record what they say, do, and the impact of this.
6 Carry out one or more of the observations suggested above. Keep a record of the observation in the adaptable observation handout.

What have you learned from these observations?

What ideas will you carry on using or try out in your practice?