During the pre-observation conference the observer will clarify the purpose of the lesson, and identify specific goals the teacher is planning to accomplish and the goals the teacher has identified for the students to accomplish. Specific strategies the teacher will use are identified and discussed. Lesson plans are examined; the consulting teacher may take this opportunity to clarify questions, discuss specific issues about the lesson content or modifications for particular students in the upcoming class, or offer suggestions prior to the lesson. The teacher can also use the pre-observation conference to ask questions or to discuss any information that would be pertinent to the observation. As the consulting teacher leaves the pre-observation conference, the objectives of the lesson and the management and instructional strategies that are intended to be used to meet these objectives should be clear.
The pre-observation conference is a time for the teacher and the consulting teacher to discuss and plan the upcoming observation session. Discussion normally centers on issues such as:
- The establishment, or re-establishment of communication (Goldhammer, 1969)
- Some teachers may feel anxious about the upcoming observation session and this initial talk may help the teacher overcome some of his/her anxieties
- It is also a time where the teacher can update the consulting teacher on various classroom happenings and raise any concerns or questions
- The goals and intentions of the upcoming lesson, what Goldhammer (1969) calls fluency(p. 58).
- The teacher communicates to the consulting teacher the intentions for the upcoming lesson. The more explicit the teacher is able to verbalize his/her intentions (what the teacher intends to do, how he/she intends to do it, why, and the intended outcomes) the better chance the lesson will run smoothly (Goldhammer, 1969).
- If the teacher does not identify any area of instruction which has been of concern, the consulting teacher may want to probe for such information.
- If the consulting teacher anticipates any problems with the teacher's upcoming lesson, he/she can raise concerns at this time and a discussion can ensue
- As a result of the above conversation, the consulting teacher may want to rehearse the upcoming lesson with the teacher
- This might be necessary if the consulting teacher foresees a potential problem with the upcoming lesson. For example, if the intern's lesson requires specific answers to verbal questions, the consulting teacher may suggest rehearsing possible scenarios to help the teacher better prepare for unanticipated student answers and possibly provide the teacher with strategies that may help him/her redirect or refocus the question(s), should the need arise (Goldhammer, 1969)
- Lesson plan revisions (Goldhammer, 1969)
- If, based on the prior conversations, the intern and consulting teacher deem it necessary to alter the lesson plan in any way, it can be done at this time
- Setting the ground rules, or what Goldhammer (1969) refers to as setting the contract(p.60).
- The intern and consulting teacher must come to an agreement about the terms of the upcoming observation session; what the consulting teacher's role will be, what the intern's role will be. Once this agreement has been made, it should not be changed without the consent of both parties.
- Behaviors that are being observed during the upcoming lesson should focus on the performance principles outlined previously. The behaviors previously outlined are those that the intern will be evaluated on at the end of the school year. Therefore it is imperative that the consulting teacher, work with the intern to ensure that they are able to exhibit satisfactory performance in each of the performance principles.
- Choice of an observation instrument or method of data collection
- Once the intern and consulting teacher are both clear on what behavior will be the focus of the upcoming observation session, an observation instrument appropriate to the collection of the said behavior, must be selected. The consulting teacher may want to remind the teacher that the observation instrument is not used for evaluative purposes only but, it also provides an objective way to capture the realities of classroom life from which a clearer picture of the happenings within the classroom can be examined to improve future teaching (Acheson & Gall, 1980).
- Other topics the intern and consulting teacher may want to discuss include:
- The mechanics of the observation (e.g. length of the observation, where would the teacher prefer you to sit, etc.)
- Any specifics of the upcoming lesson that the consulting teacher may need to know (e.g. there will be frequent interruptions as certain students will be getting their eyes checked by the school nurse, a student with a behavioral problem is being mainstreamed into the classroom and this lesson will mark his/her first time in the classroom, etc.)