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Tool: Parent observation guide

Here are some suggestions and examples of information that you might want to include in a guide for parents who come in to observe your classroom:

Sample parent observation guide

Date: _______________                 

Student's name: _________________________________

Welcome to our classroom!  I'm glad you are able to spend some time with us to see what we are doing in [subject matter]. This guide is designed for two purposes:

  • To orient you to what you will be seeing
  • To give you the opportunity to share what you are noticing and to ask questions

What you will see in the classroom:

Information about the [subject matter] program:  Give a 2-3 sentence overview of your goals for this subject matter area.

Kindergarten literacy example: Writing is an important part of the language arts program.  It helps children learn to express their thoughts and it also helps them develop important knowledge for reading such as recognizing letter sounds. Each morning the children write in their journals, and then we have Authors Chair where a few students have the opportunity to share their writing. This gives me the opportunity to point out features of their writing (such as using capital letters and periods or using a drawing to explain ideas) that others can learn from.

Information about the routines and participation structures for the lesson being observed: Parents need to know how the class period or day is organized so they know what to expect and understand when/why particular transitions are coming.

High school math example: When students come into the classroom, they see the “problem of the day” on the board. They know that they are supposed to work with the problem individually for about 10 minutes, and then work with their problem-solving group to share their thinking. Then each group comes to the overhead to explain their approach to the problem and provide evidence for their thinking. This activity provides a springboard for that day’s lesson where I will either lead a discussion or ask the students to solve a different problem.

Information about behavior expectations:  Knowing about your rules and routines can help parents interpret how students move about the classroom, handle materials, and understand what is expected of them.

Middle school social studies example: At the beginning of the school year, we developed a set of behavior expectations that you will see posted in the classroom. These expectations mirror many aspects of democratic participation such as showing respect for others’ ideas and property.  In social studies we use both primary records (historical documents, letters, diaries, journals) and secondary sources (textbook, magazines, newspapers) to try to understand historical events from many different perspectives. This means we spend time in groups working with materials and discussing different interpretations of them. Students are expected to handle the primary documents that I bring in with care. They also must show respect for others’ ideas by listening carefully and considering each group member’s viewpoint.


Your observations and questions *

How is this lesson similar to or different from my own experiences in learning this subject?

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I noticed that students can _____________________________________________________

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I wondered about ____________________________________________________________

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I’d like more information about _________________________________________________

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The best time to contact me is ___________________________________________________

Thank you for visiting.  Feel free to leave this sheet with me as you leave today or to send it back to school with your child. Your feedback is important to me!

*Adapted from Hill, B. C., & Ruptic, C. (1994). Practical aspects of authentic assessment: Putting the pieces together, (p. 209). Norwood, MA: Christopher-Gordon.

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