Alberta Teachers' Association logo in colour, all one line.


Student Teacher


Observation Guide for the Beginning of Student Teaching

The following is reprinted with permission from the St Olaf College Education Department (2012). Minor changes have been made to fit ATA style.

Get acquainted with the class

Observe the students

  1. Learn names, faces and distinguishing characteristics of the students.
  2. Observe the students’ adjustment to the classroom situation; do they appear “at home”?
  3. In what ways are they participating?
  4. What is the attitude of the class as a whole?
  5. What social observations can you make? Behavioural?

Observe physical conditions and equipment

  1. Note the satisfactory conditions of the classroom.
  2. Note the unsatisfactory conditions of the classroom (size of the room, acoustics, ventilation, heat, light, type of windows, shades, colours, exits).
  3. List materials available for teaching, such as maps, worktables, storage space, bookcases, reference books, files, dictionaries and so on.

Observation of classroom routine

  1. Seating arrangement. By groups? Alphabetical? Formal or informal?
  2. The way students enter the classroom
  3. The activity between bells—within the room itself and in the halls
  4. Requirement for recitation or group participation
  5. Methods of holding attention and motivating students
  6. Methods of students attracting the teacher’s attention during work periods
  7. Class discipline policies and class rules
  8. Procedure for passing and collecting papers
  9. Procedure for dismissal

Observation of classroom method and activities

  1. Note methods used, such as self-directed study, supervised study, question-answer, lectures, oral drill, panel projects, written drill, demonstration, laboratory techniques.
  2. Note the “launching of the year’s work.” How is interest obtained?
  3. Note examples of questions asked by students.
  4. Provision for individual differences.
Get acquainted with the school itself
  1. Try to discover the practices unique to this particular school.
  2. Find out the things with which the school might be experimenting.
  3. Where are its outstanding successes? Its major challenges?
  4. Familiarize yourself with the bus schedules and policies relative to students who take the bus.
  5. Read the teacher’s manual and familiarize yourself with school policies and procedures.
  6. Join in “teacher talks” to note the trends and the problems in education.
  7. Find out about professional organization and activities of the teachers, new teacher orientation
  8. Note the policies relative to the extracurricular activities.
  9. Note student participation in class and in the overall program of the school (student government).
  10. Kinds of activities carried on in homeroom; how are study sessions conducted?
  11. Get acquainted with the media centre, computer labs, administrative and counselling services.
Get acquainted with the community
  1. Study a map and demographics of the school jurisdiction and school.
  2. Is there a school council? Relationship to school?
  3. Kinds of industry, business and so on, and school partnerships
Setting up your own schedule for the period of student teaching
  1. Class hours and free periods
  2. Build a resource unit