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Classroom Observations

Many TESOL courses require classroom observations. Depending on your professor's requirements, you may choose to observe several classes in one context (e.g., adult education) or in several different contexts (e.g, EAP, IEP, literacy-level, etc.). After you have decided what you want to observe, choose several ESL programs/schools from the list of possible observation sites (linked below). While reviewing the programs for observations and before contacting the programs, please review programs' observation requirements. Some programs require observation forms be filled out and e-mailed to their contact staff. Please make sure to contact the programs at least a week in advance to set up your observations (refer to Observation Sites for specific observation request deadlines).

Once you have chosen the programs for observations and have identified class times and dates, contact the program coordinators via e-mail. In your e-mail, introduce yourself and briefly describe your reasons for wanting to observe. Also, suggest several dates and times you would like to observe their classes. The program coordinator will respond to you with times and classes you can observe.

When setting up your observations and while observing, please keep in mind that you represent the TESOL Program, American University, and the TESOL profession. Thus, you are expected to behave in a professional manner by respecting and following the procedures these institutions require.

Please arrive to the observation site 10 minutes early, introduce yourself to the teacher, and respect the school's policies, directions, and operating procedures. Unless you have expressly arranged something different, you should stay for the whole class, and be sure to thank the teacher at the end.

During the observation, it is not necessary to tell the teacher exactly what aspects of teaching you will be focusing on in your observation, but you may want to mention which graduate course you are observing this class for and why you have chosen this particular institution. If the teacher asks you for feedback after the observation, and you choose to give some, please keep it respectful even if you disagree with anything the teacher has done. Your comments and opinions about the lesson can be included in your observation report.

Remember to send a thank-you e-mail to the teacher and administrators after your observation. Also, please fill out the TESOL program observation form. The program will send an official thank you note to the ESL administration and teachers.

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