Criteria for Healthy Waldorf Classrooms
The following aspects provide a basis for observation in grades one through eight. This list may be used either by a mentor (in a long-term confidential relationship to the teacher) or an evaluator, who will then provide a report of the visit.
Evaluators may need one hour or one week. Time should also be taken to observe the students during the recess time. Also, it may be recommended to come back once more during the term. Be sure that the report has the school, the date and the subject of the lesson. Ideally speaking, evaluators should review the contents of the report with the teacher visited before submitting it to the school.
Important Note: “Useful as such a list may be, it may be the cause of one of the gravest mistakes we could make. This would be to draw any conclusions from these observations and perhaps miss the fact that this class and this teacher truly belong together, and that the class is thriving, regardless of any number of “negative aspects” which we think could be significantly improved.” - Else Gottgens
Things to Look For
Is there warmth between the teacher and the children?
How do the children greet the teacher? Is there eye contact, and is there a warm handshake?
How are the relationships between the children?
What is the spirit of the class? Is there enthusiasm and receptivity?
Do the children listen well?
Do the children know their routine, their place?
Can the students work independently?
How are the work habits and problem solving skills of the children?
Are the students making an effort?
Are the children pale or rosy-cheeked?
Do the students behave with respect, with manners?
Is there an allowance for the spontaneous?
Wholeness of the Lesson
Does the teacher use appropriate images?
How does the teacher use the nights? What is the nature of the review?
Is there a 50/50 balance between the initiative of the teacher and that of the children?
How does the teacher incorporate or address the temperaments of the students?
Is there laughter during the lesson?
Is there wholeness to the lesson, a balance of all aspects?
Are there smooth transitions between activities?
Is there a concentrated book work time?
What is the quality of the books made by the children?
What is the focus for the whole block?
What is the quality of the children’s movements?
What is the quality of the children’s speech?
Is there new material?
Is the on-going material still challenging?
Punctuality - does the lesson begin and end in a timely way?
What is the end of the lesson like? Is there a moment of “taking in?”
What is the demeanor of the children as they leave?
Are the methods appropriate to the developmental stage of the children?
Are all of the children actively engaged in learning?
Are the individual differences of the children being addressed?
Does the teacher keep a record of developing capacities and skills?
Are there challenges to improve speech and grammar?
Is there mental math review?
What is the quality of the children’s work?
Are the basic skills appropriate to the age level?
Is there an open-heartedness to imaginations?
How does the teacher handle discipline?
What is the children’s response to correction?
Does the teacher teach the fundamentals, holding the pencil, posture, seeing, etc.?
What is the predominant temperament of the teacher?
How does the teacher balance his or her own temperament?
Academic competence of the teacher? Competent presentations?
Can we observe anything in relation to the preparation of the teacher?
Does the teacher distract the students?
Use of the teacher’s voice - pitch, variety of tone, loudness, etc.
Teacher’s language skills - grammar, sentence structure, vocabulary, giving instructions, etc.
Is the teacher’s handwriting clear?
How does the teacher move about the classroom?
Artistic skill of the teacher
Appropriate attire, neatness and cleanliness
Beauty of the classroom, appropriate picture on the walls, etc.
Tidiness and cleanliness
Organization of the classroom and its materials
Desks, chairs, tables of appropriate size for the children?
If there are plants, are they well attended?
Is there attention to airflow, temperature and light?
The compilation of this list was a result of the combined efforts of three groups of experienced teachers meeting in the AWSNA Mentor Collaboration Seminars during January, February and March of 2000. A. Matthews
Association of Waldorf Schools of North America
Effective Practices Research Project
HR Document HR 5-1.3