We’re inviting experienced teaching staff across the university to open the door to their classroom for colleagues to observe their class as part of the ‘Open for Observation’ program.

Here’s what teaching staff who have previously participated in the Open for Observation program have to say:

Embrace this opportunity. You might discover that what you do in the classroom is indeed innovative, original, interesting and creative. Sometimes we need another pair of eyes to see what we ourselves can’t see.

Their comments boosted my confidence in my teaching and motivated me to explore further and do more. Usually, the feedback after the observations turned into more extensive discussions on different aspects of teaching and sharing of experiences, which is why this project is so valuable.

In 2022 there were 18 staff in session 1 and 22 staff in session 2 who opened up their classes with over 130 people booking to observe a class. We’re now putting the call out for staff to participate during session 1, as teachers, observers, or both! Previous participants said it was a worthwhile and beneficial experience all round, and we have some return visitors – teachers and observers – who are keen to repeat their experience.

Why open up your classroom?

  • To connect with colleagues within and beyond your own discipline
  • It’s an opportunity to share knowledge through practice
  • To support other teaching staff to reflect on and enhance their own teaching confidence and practice
  • To get feedback on something new you are trying in class or simply for general feedback to enhance your own teaching (but only if you would like to)
  • Contribute to the broad conversation about why we teach the way we do
  • Reflect on your own teaching.

I’m a big fan of peer observation exchanges. I both invited others to my classroom and went along to observe.

Previous participant

You choose, we arrange it

You tell us which class/es (dates/times) you would like to make available and advise how many observers you would like (this might be just one or two for a small tutorial class, or perhaps a larger number if it’s more of a lecture style class).

We organise the booking system and staff book in according to their interest and availability.
You will be advised via email when someone books to attend one of your classes. You can decide how much contact you want with each observer, either before or after the class (or both).

A mix of class types and disciplines

Whether you are teaching a tutorial, lecture, workshop, seminar or something else, whether it’s face to face or online (Zoom), day or evening – we’d love to be able to open your door.

We’ll be encouraging staff take the opportunity to observe classes outside of their own discipline so we would ideally like to be able to open classes across different faculties and department/ schools/ and colleges.

There are so many different approaches to teaching that I liked the idea that people could go and see someone teach in a way (and possibly an area) that was totally different to their own style and discipline, which might challenge discipline ‘boundaries’ – that’s always a good thing!

Previous participant

Ready when you are!

We’re ready when you are to open up teaching observation opportunities for Session 1. Feedback from previous participants suggested that between weeks 4 through to 10 in a regular teaching session works best for teachers as towards the end of session some classes may be starting to move more into a revision mode. We know not everyone is teaching on a 13-week session though – those teaching in MQBS and Macquarie University College are very welcome to let us know what times would work for them.

We’ll be accepting class dates from 20th March onwards.

How to participate

If you’d like to open the door to your classroom, please fill in your details in this form and we’ll do the rest.

Like to know more?

How many classes can I open up?

That’s totally up to you. It can be just one class on a particular day, or more over several weeks. Think about what will be happening in class on that day and whether it would be interesting and appropriate for others to observe.

Who can observe my class?

When the program is promoted, it’s suggested that anyone with at least ONE session of university teaching under their belt will find it valuable. So you could have some very new teaching staff coming along to observe and learn, or it could be a more experienced colleague seeking a different perspective on teaching. You may also have an observer from outside of your discipline/faculty.

We also encourage Learning Designers to participate as observers.

How do observers book into my class – what’s the booking process?

There will be a TECHE article with a list of all the possible open classes available. If interested, a staff member will click on the unit/teacher they are interested in. There will be a link to register for a specific class/date/time. The observer will receive confirmation of their booking and a calendar invitation (so they remember what they booked) which can be added to their calendar. The booking confirmation will have details of the class location or the Zoom link. The Observer will receive a reminder email the day before the booked class. They will be advised to contact professional.learning@mq.edu.au if they are no longer able to attend (and if that happens, we’ll let you know).

How will I know who is observing my class?

The booking system will automatically send you an email when someone registers to attend your class.

Please let us know in advance how many observers you would like in any one class. The booking system will ensure that only that number of places are available.

Will I have observers in all of my classes?

You won’t necessarily have observers in all of your classes. Although the Open for Observation Program is promoted as widely as we can through all the channels that we have available, anything you can do to invite your own colleagues and to promote your open classes through your own Department/Faculty would be of great benefit.

What will the observer do during my class?

They will be in the class with the students, just observing though, not participating or interacting with students (unless you specifically request otherwise). You can provide us with any specific instructions which will be included with the class information when they book. For example, you may want them to introduce themselves to the class or to remain on mute. You may like to suggest particular things you would like them to focus on during the class, or something you would like feedback on.

Each observer will be provided with a guided Reflection Sheet to record their observations with prompts that will focus on capturing practices and techniques that they may wish to explore for their own teaching development.

My visitors introduced themselves at the beginning of class. I invited them to join in my very interactive classes if they wanted to or simply observe. There were some who simply observed and others who joined in and a mixture of both! It was good that people could choose how to participate/ observe.

Will the observer/s contact me before the class?

Teaching staff who participated previously felt that it was useful to have a discussion before the class, but this is optional. A conversation or email exchange might be useful for:

  • outlining what the observer could expect during the class
  • providing any background information on the unit/class/lesson
  • letting the observer know what aspect of your teaching you would like feedback or ideas on
  • understanding what the observer is hoping to gain by observing your class
Can teaching staff from my own department / discipline observe my class?

Yes, of course. We encourage you to promote your open class and invite your colleagues along to observe. We also want to encourage people to observe classes outside of their own discipline to get a different perspective.

Should I meet with the observer/s after the class?

Almost all previous participants felt it was an important part of the process to have a conversation with the observer afterwards. The conversation could take place at the end of the class, via email or over a coffee. That’s up to you to decide!. It could be an opportunity to:

  • hear their observations
  • respond to any questions they may have
  • discuss what worked well, what didn’t work
  • obtain some specific feedback on a particular aspect of the class
  • suggest how they could embed some ideas in their own teaching
  • have a collegial discussion about teaching practices.

So my main point of feedback about this program is that while the opportunity to observe is a good one, its real benefit lies in the follow-up conversations that are had, whereby the observer and the observed are able to reflect together and discuss aspects of the teaching and broader topics such as assessment. I believe that promotes best practice.

Will I be able to get some feedback on my own teaching?

One of the great features of the Open for Observation program is that it is potentially a win-win situation – for both you and for the observer. From your perspective, you are contributing to the teaching development of others and you may also receive some feedback that is useful for you. Bear in mind though that some observers may be fairly new to teaching and may not feel comfortable or qualified to provide you with feedback. You can ask for feedback, but it is an optional part of the program.

If you would like feedback, we suggest that you outline up front what aspect of your teaching you would like feedback on and provide observers with information about goals of the class and how it relates to learning outcomes – so they can provide informed, targeted feedback on your teaching. Of course, you can just ask for general feedback.

Some possible areas you could ask for feedback on:

  • if you are trying out a new tool/technology or approach, appropriateness and set up of technology
  • classroom management and dynamics, positioning in the classroom
  • organisation of group work activities
  • are the instructions clear and concise instructions
  • student participation and engagement, active learning
  • Ideas about delivery modes
  • lesson structure, use of quizzes
How will the Open for Observation program be promoted?

There will be a TECHE article promoting the Open for Observation program and inviting staff to book in to observe a class. Teaching staff who open their class are encouraged to also promote the program (using the link to the TECHE article) within their own department/faculty.

If you have any other questions, please contact professional.learning@mq.edu.au

Banner image: Image by pressfoto on Freepik
Open and awesome image: Eric Lysenko on Shutterstock

Posted by L&T Development

The Learning and Teaching Staff Development team works with staff across the University to ensure they are supported to facilitate quality learning for students. This includes offering professional development, contributing to curriculum and assessment design, recognising and rewarding good practice, supporting peer review of teaching, and leading scholarly reflection. Email professional.learning@mq.edu.au with questions or requests.

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