Robert Harrell Checklist

We were talking a week a few weeks ago about the Susan Gross Administrator Checklist, and it is indeed a most useful document, but I think it is too busy. Honestly, I think Susan just wrote as many things as she could think of in order to drive home the point about comprehensible input’s effectiveness. Most people agree that it is too long for most administrators to use in an effective way during observations.

Robert Harrell has a much more manageable and therefore useable and practical checklist for administrators and visitors to our classrooms. Here is the link. We do have permission from Robert to copy and use this if we choose:

admin checklist-for-tci-classroom Harrell updated



5 thoughts on “Robert Harrell Checklist”

  1. Looking over Rogers document, what does this mean: “The teacher raises the level of student’s attention.” ?

    In order to “promote grammatical accuracy” would that simply mean, I repeat the correct answer, if a student shares an answer, which was great, but off grammatically? Other than that, I’m not sure how I else I do this. I feel like this is also a “correction technique” – unless correction is in reference to off-task behavior and not grammar…?

    I also wonder if anyone who does not know the language could identify all of these aspects, even if they are all present. For instance, if I ask a yes/no question to a slower processing student and an open-ended to a fast processing student, would an observer know the difference, not knowing the language?

    For the 90% TL box, does anyone add the caveat, that this excludes giving directions, classroom commands, safety concerns which are done in English?

    Also, how do people share this with their admin? Hang by the door and personally give upon entering? Or give to their assigned admin observer at the beginning of the year, and then also have copies when they do visit? What responses have people had when doing this? Because admins have their own boxes to check in the “new teacher evaluation process” that our state has.

    I would like to adapt and use this list. Looking forward to feedback…

  2. Hi Leah,

    I’m not sure who this “Roger” you keep referring to is, but since we’re talking about my checklist I’ll answer.

    “raises the level of student’s attention” = use jGR to make students sit up, square shoulders, focus on the class discussion, not have private conversations (i.e. call students on off-task behavior)

    “promote grammatical accuracy” = model correct use of the language; repeat student answers using correct grammar

    I think someone who is conversant with foreign language teaching will be able to recognize different kinds of questions even if they don’t know the language. Someone who is monolingual probably won’t. If the person is an administrator who is observing you as part of your evaluation, use the post-observation meeting to explain. If they just don’t get it, what business do they have evaluating what they don’t understand?

    You can give directions and classroom commands in the Target Language. If you are being observed you should not be trying something new to students. They should already know the directions for whatever activity you are doing so that it flows. If the observation is spontaneous and unannounced, us only whatever English is absolutely necessary to keep students on task. Safety concerns (what to do in an emergency, e.g. earthquake, fire, intruder) are not part of your language class. While the explanations and practice may take place during your class time, they are not part of language instruction; they are school business that has been imposed upon you (for good reason) from the outside. Nonetheless, with all but absolute beginners you can do at least some of the directions in the Target Language. I regularly review emergency and evacuation procedures with my students at all levels in German.

    I have the checklist hanging just inside my classroom door and ask all visitors to grab one and do an evaluation. It gives guidance to the observer as to what they should be looking for in my classroom. In years that I have an evaluation, I share it with the administrator who will be observing me and explain to them what I am doing and why. It is a great opportunity to educate the administrator about second language acquisition. Yes, they have their own boxes to check off, but understanding what makes your classroom look different will help both them and you.

    Hope this helps,


  3. Leah, I’ve given a checklist to observing administrators as soon as I find convenient within the time they are visiting. I share it as what I’m aiming for in class (therefore acknowledging that they have some checklist of their own). So far I’ve always had grateful reception of the checklist, immediate thanks. Once she took it almost like looking at a life preserver – that time I think my observer knew she didn’t know how to evaluate any more than student engagement in class.

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