Blog about honing in while observing lessons

Blog about honing in while observing lessons


Why observe lessons?


The reasoning behind observing other teachers’ lessons is not only to learn from how others might deliver their lesson plans, but to also learn from the pupil’s responses to that lesson, and how your own behaviours correspond to those.


You may want to hone in further by thinking specifically about one element you observed during the lesson, whether that be yourself and your responses, the teacher or even the pupil.


Most teachers embrace the idea of allowing other teachers to observe them – after all, it benefit both people - so finding someone to observe shouldn’t be a problem. I tend to do most observing during the holidays or when I am studying, which happens to be when I am thinking about self-reflection the most.


Think about whether you will be making notes on paper, recording the lesson to watch back later or even creating an audio file. Many smart phones nowadays allow us to be flexible with choice while considering how we are going to track and record our observations. Don’t forget to ask permission to record the participants. You can find template observation consent forms online or with your music society like Musicians Union, ISM or EPTA.


Tip #1 Think about how you are going to record the findings of your observations.


Since we are teachers, we should acknowledge the value of education, including our own learning. Our own education should always include an element of self-reflection. Observing our own lessons, including ourselves as the teacher and ourselves as the student gives us insight into the energies between the teacher and student, whether or not the lesson is teacher-directed or pupil-directed or whether or not music-making is at the heart of the lesson.


Tip #2 Observe your own lessons by recording them on a smart phone or tablet.


How to assess the observations in the lesson


It’s important to hone in on a particular ‘type’ of learner while observing lessons. This is important because whilst observing we take in an overwhelming amount of information. This information is sometimes too great to process properly. The particular type of learner may be a group of boys, a group of girls, a group of high attainers or even a group of children who speak English as a second language.


Whilst observing our own lessons and other people’s lessons, we should then hone in on our observations even more by considering what went well during the lesson and what could be improved upon, in addition to the focus of a particular type of learner. Observing a lesson is rather like constructing an essay or research proposal. We should constantly be thinking about how we can hone in on our observations.  While considering the positive and negative parts of the lesson also take into account the success of the resources you were using. The resources may include worksheets, flash cards and other media like apps.


Finally, remember write up your observations. Whilst assessing the findings of your observations try to remain impartial throughout and always summarise in detail what you have learned about the lessons. The summary and analysis part of observing should become easier and easier as you continuously hone in on the subject at hand. The findings of your observations should be used to create your lesson plans and improve your own tailor-made curriculums.


Spotlight Student: Olivia Majchrzak


Olivia is the Spotlight Student this month. I have chosen her because she is now able to read the rhythms and pitches fluently as they appear in beginners tutor book. She understands many of the concepts that appear in the mini staff and has now progressed nicely onto the grand staff.  Although there are other students who also do this well, I have chosen Olivia as she remembers to bring her piano tutor book to school regularly.


Olivia says that she “likes playing piano because it’s fun, you can entertain your family and friends, and you can share it. It’s a skill, you can enjoy for many, many years.” While talking about music Olivia says that she, “loves music because it brings joy and happiness to everyone.”Olivia, I agree wholeheartedly. Well done.




Mackworth-Young, Lucinda. 2000. Tuning In. Houghton-on-the-Hill.



Ijeoma Mbubaegbu