What to Observe
Potential Questions for Staff
Safety/security: Does the building appear safe?
Is the building comfortable (temperature, chairs beyond desks, lighting, noisy)?
Does the building value students (student art on the walls, recognition of student achievements, evidence of parent-teacher alliance)?
Is this a place a child would want to be in?
How does one enter/exit the building?
Where do students go if they are having a hard time?
Where are students’ classwork or projects kept or displayed?
What happens after school is over?
Do students stay in the building before or after school?
What do classrooms look like? How big is the room?
How many students are in this room, and how many adults?
How many learning areas are there, and are they separated so children can be in a quiet place within the classroom?
How stimulating (visual, auditory, tactile) is this classroom, and do the students appear over/understimulated?
What is the average number of students in each classroom?
How are teachers encouraged to set up their classroom?
If a student is having a hard time in the classroom, where do they go?
How did you (teacher) decide what to put up in your classroom?
How is a stranger greeted?
Does the school seem organized for students or for staff?
Do most students appear engaged with instruction (are students within classrooms, alert, attentive, answering/asking questions?)?
How do students and staff interact (smiling, directives, calm, tense)? Do children thrive here?
Whom should I meet when I enter the building?
How do students move between classes/to lunch/recess?
What do students do when they have finished classroom assignments?
What do staff expect from students here? What do staff most worry about here regarding students?
Are administrators present/accessible?
What kind of tone/impression does the administrator convey? Do staff appear comfortable around the administrator?
Who does this administrator best serve (students, teachers, parents, other administrators)?
What led to this administrator being selected for this building (student needs, up/down move for this administrator)?
What kind of interactions does the administrator have with students (discipline, earned reward time, common interests discussed in halls/lunch)?
What is the administrator’s priority in this building?
What do staff seek from the administrator (support, camaraderie, ideas, discipline, avoidance)?
Do teachers want to be in this school (eager to be with students or staff)?
Do teachers stay in this building?
How do teachers engage students (time to work, demonstrate content, model enthusiasm, surprise students)?
How often do teachers alter the instructional approach (every 10 minutes, something different [lecture, student reading, class discussion], or employ different modalities [visual, auditory, tactile]) employed during instruction?
How many teachers left this building last year?
Average over the last several (5) years?
What is the student to teacher ratio?
What is the average length of time teachers have been in this district/building?
How many teachers here have advanced (masters, doctoral) degrees?
What kind of teachers do best in this school (independent, orderly, collaborative, creative)?
Are other school staff present?
How do teachers and other school staff interact (take student out, co-teach, friendly/tense)?
How do teachers describe other staff (particularly contributions of special educators)?
What kind of special education staff work here? How often are they in this building (always, weekly)?
What kind of other teachers are in the classroom (parent aides, “para-professionals” aides)? Do they work with particular students, with every-one in the classroom?
Are support staff friendly?
Do they appear open about discussing the school and students?
Do support staff work well with other staff?
What kind of support staff are in this building?
How long have most of them been here?
How are support staff paired with other staff?
Reprinted with permission from Bostic, J. Q., & Hoover, S. A. (2018). School consultation. In A. Martin, M. H. Bloch, & F. R. Volkmar (Eds.), Lewis’s child and adolescent psychiatry: A comprehensive textbook (5th ed., pp. 960-961). Wolters Kluwer.