Sunday, November 01, 2020


 As chair, I'm responsible for doing my own classroom visits (aka observations) of tenure track and newer adjunct instructors.  Because I was worried about being shut down, I worked pretty hard early on to visit the in person classes I could.  

And now I'm trying to do the last on line observation.  It's totally different, way harder, and more time consuming.

Typically, around here, when we do class visits, we have a chat with the instructor to learn about what they're doing in the class, what their goals for the class meeting are, what difficulties they're experiencing, what concerns they have.  We get a copy of the syllabus and any assignments that are relevant.  Then we visit the class for an hour or so. (If it's an hour and fifteen minutes, we probably visit the whole session.  If longer, we visit part.)  And then we meet again with the instructor to get their take on how things went and give feedback.  Then, in most cases, we write up a report and a copy gets put in a file and given to the instructor.

On line: I visit with the person, usually virtually.  Then I'm invited into the course management site.  And I start looking at the overall organization, which is what I'd get by looking at a syllabus for a few minutes, but usually it takes longer on line because it's been split up.  And then I start in on the material I've been asked to look at.  Except usually people teaching fully on line don't teach day by day, but organize by the week.  So I end up needing to look at a whole week of material.  And sometimes it's hard to know when a week is ending or not, especially with a longer work (such as a novel).

I use the Chico State Exemplary Online Instruction website and rubric (and have told the instructors ahead of time that I would be), because it gives me a foundation to work from.  It's super helpful.  (Thank you, Chico State!)  But it also takes a fair bit of time.


A couple of my colleagues now have covid, and I'm worried.  Before, a colleague was quarantining because a family member had it, but they're back now, and never caught it. 


  1. I feel your pain! I'm chairing our tenure and promotion committee this year and doing class observations has been our most challenging task. The faculty we're observing teach in a variety of formats, some face-to-face or hybrid and some entirely online, and then sometimes the room isn't big enough to permit an observer and maintain social distancing, or else a committee member has a health issue and needs to observe virtually. I think we've done a pretty good job adapting to circumstances, but it has required a ton of extra work just to figure out the logistics. I sincerely hope that we never have to work this way again, but I am probably dreaming.

  2. I know what you mean about the logistics!