Title: Lesson observation: the challenge of seeing beyond observable behaviours


Vol. 11(3), 2023, pp. 9-26



Author: Assoc. Prof. Irina Ivanova

About the author: Assoc. Prof. Irina Ivanova, PhD, is a lecturer in English language teaching at the Department of English Studies in Shumen University. She teaches a number of disciplines in Bachelor’s, Master’s, and doctoral programmes in the field of ELT and teacher education, and supervises trainees’ school-based internship. She is involved in in-service teacher training, development and certification at the Department of Information, Qualification and Lifelong Learning in Varna. Over the years, she has worked on different projects in the field of teacher education. She is a member of IATEFL and member of the Bulgarian Association of Teachers of English. Her research interests and publications are in the fields of foreign language teaching, linguistics, language acquisition, academic literacy, continuing professional development of teachers.






Citation (APA style): Ivanova, I. (2023). Lesson observation: the challenge of seeing beyond observable behaviours. Studies in Linguistics, Culture, and FLT, 11(3), 9-26.  


Abstract: The article focuses on the problems which trainee teachers face in reflecting on observed lessons taught by experienced teachers. Observing and discussing live and recorded lessons is part of a practical module in a Bulgarian state university run together with a course in ELT methodology, with the aim of helping trainee-teachers link theory to practice in preparation for their school-based internship. The discussion is based on the results of 74 BA and MA trainee-teachers’ written assignments of a whole video lesson observation (with the task of identifying its stages, procedures, and the rationale behind them), and a follow-up collective feedback aimed at revealing the sources of identified problems. A checklist including targeted observation foci was used for collecting quantitative data related to the elements of the lesson which were identified and correctly interpreted by the participants. Data analysis revealed no significant differences between the results of BA and MA trainees, who experienced similar difficulties in recognizing teaching techniques and interpreting teacher’s actions in terms of ELT theory, perceiving the lesson as a coherent entity, and understanding the logic of its organisation. The post observation feedback provided some insights into the problems, suggesting that they might stem from insufficient theoretical preparation and the lasting impact of trainees’ native educational culture with its traditional models of teaching; factors which might lead to conscious rejection of practices perceived as strange or inappropriate for the local teaching context. The implications of the study are linked to possible measures for overcoming the challenges and enhancing trainees’ development of professional expertise.

Key words: lesson observation, trainees, challenges, interpretation, observed behaviours



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