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Critical reflections on formal teaching observations

18 April 2024
Volume 33 · Issue 8


Formal teaching observations not only have an essential role in the visibility of teaching and learning but also allow for constructive, critical feedback for improvement. In both nursing and teaching, there is an emphasis on the need for efficient, regular reflective practice; this not to identify negative aspects but to transform professional practice. This article provides a personal insight into formal teaching observations, and themes arising from them of motivation, the teacher's voice, the use of abbreviations and acronyms and the use of exemplars, using a critical reflective approach.

Critical reflection theory emerged in the field of education with Mezirow (1990) and Brookfield (1995) as a process of enquiry and it is essential to the theory of transformative learning; it was later adapted in other fields, including nursing (Papathanasiou et al, 2014; Mortari, 2015). Reflection itself is a process of analysing experiences, synthesising information and evaluating events to enhance strategies and share best practices (Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), 2019; Health and Care Professions Council, 2021; Shin et al, 2022). Cultivated through the art of learning, reflection can be nurtured and encouraged to facilitate a deep inquiry into one's inner self (Mortari, 2015).

At a university in the UK, I use reflective tools to develop my teaching skills, for example lesson evaluations and teaching observations. To illustrate this, I will use formal classroom observations as one approach to guided reflection. Classroom observations not only provide an essential role in the visibility of teaching and learning but also allow for constructive critical feedback for improvement (Future Learn, 2022). In both nursing and teaching, there is an emphasis on the need for efficient, regular reflective practice, not to identify negative aspects but to transform professional practice (Ofsted, 2018).

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