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Section 1: The Observation Cycle


Phase 1: Pre-Briefing

Before a formal observation of a lesson taught by your teacher candidate or new teacher, mentor teachers should hold a pre-conference.  The purpose of the pre-conference is to:


  1. Determine purpose of lesson.

  2. Support the teacher candidate in unpacking their thinking.

  3. Ask questions to understand context.

  4. Explore potential challenges.

  5. Discuss logistics (e.g., role of the observer).

  6. Summarize.

  7. Seek feedback about your own methods of providing feedback.


Sample Questions

​Below is a list of sample questions that you might consider when planning a pre-conference (pre-brief) with your teacher candidate.

  • What is the focus of the lesson? What will the lesson be about?

  • What standards/objectives/outcomes will be addressed? What skills do you hope to develop?

  • What will you do to open the lesson? Introduce concepts? Invite practice? Monitor student learning? Close the lesson? Invite reflection?

  • What teaching strategies will you use to produce student outcomes? OR How will students be actively engaged?

  • What student behaviors do you expect to see?  What will students be doing as the lesson unfolds?

  • What led up to the lesson? What learning experiences did students have prior?

  • What would you like me to observe?

  • How would you like me to focus the observation? 

  • Where would you prefer I sit?  Where would you like me to position myself? Do you want me to interact with students?

  • How would you like me to collect observational data? 

  • Is there anything else you would like to share?

  • Is there any background information I need to know?

  • Do you have any feedback for me about the questions I asked? Anything I should do differently?

Download Sample Pre-Briefing and Post-Briefing Questions

The Observation Cycle

Click on the icon to review the content, questions, and supporting documents for each phase of the observation cycle, or click "Next" to move through each phase of the cycle.

MentorVA Observation Cycle.png

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