Professional Development Observations

Professional Development Observations of Composition Classes Taught by Part-Time Lecturers and Graduate Teaching Assistants

Purpose

  • The primary goal of teaching observations in the Composition Program is to help less experienced instructors develop more effective teaching strategies. The observation process should be a constructive dialogue between the observer and the instructor being observed. This Composition Program values a variety of approaches to teaching writing and regards this process as a way to help teachers reflect on and articulate the teaching philosophies and strategies that shape their work.
  • The secondary goal of the observation process is to fulfill accreditation requirements about evaluations of non-tenure-line teaching faculty. Observation reports, along with student evaluations and course syllabi, will be kept on file in the Composition Program office for this purpose.

Frequency

Each new instructor will be observed twice in their first year of teaching, once in the fall semester by the Director of Composition and again in the spring semester by an Assistant Director of Composition.

After the first year of teaching, there will be:

  • One observation in the second year teaching at UofL.
  • One observation in the fourth year of teaching at UofL (PhD students going on the job market will be encouraged to be observed by their Dissertation Directors in the fourth year).
  • After the fourth-year, observations will take place at the request of the instructor or at the discretion of the Director of Composition.

Additional Observations

In most cases observations will not result in additional observations by the Director of Composition. The Director of Composition may conduct an additional teaching observation if the initial observer notes classroom behavior that is of concern or if other information (student complaints, changes in student evaluations, problems with syllabi, etc.) warrants an additional visit. If the Director of Composition decides on an additional teaching observation, she or he will notify the instructor in writing and meet with the instructor before the observation to discuss any concerns.

Process

  • The observer will work with the instructor to schedule an appropriate time to conduct the observation.  Prior to the observation, the instructor should send the observer an email containing the lesson plans for the class that is to be observed.
  • The observer will attend the class session agreed upon with the instructor and stay for the entire class session.
  • The observer will be required to meet with the instructor at some point after the class session to discuss the observations and ask any questions about the class session. The goal of these meetings is a constructive dialogue about pedagogy.
  • The observer will draft an observation report using the form on the Composition Program Website and will send a copy of the draft to the instructor. The instructor has the option to write a response to accompany the report in the files. Once any response has been made available to the observer, the report will be turned in to the Composition Program office and reviewed by the Director.

View the Teaching Observation Template.