A reflection on ‘How would you like to be observed?’

Another reblog, yes, I know, sorry.


I am all for (sort of) a criteria driven observation, but not for a ‘Handbook’ method.

One size does not fit all, and no, not under any circumstances should there be a favoured teaching style.

When I have observed my peers, or they have observed me, those are the times when I feel that I have benefited the most as both the observer and observed.

As I said in the first post on this blog, “I am a teacher. I like to think that I am a good one at that – not spectacular – effective.” I have worked with and still do work with some exceptional teachers, people who I admire hugely and have had the pleasure to have told them that. When they visit my classroom and tell me what they felt worked well, I appreciate it and above all, I believe it. When they tell me what they think could have improved it, I am inclined to try it, quickly, because I trust them.

The current OfSted model doesn’t inspire that type of instant step-change of improvement, but it does expect it and woe betide those who do not deliver. Teachers in RI schools and being visited by HMI can testify to that I am sure. The inspector wanders in and out. They then categorize what they have seen and what it means for children’s learning. What about the child who is observed on Tuesday and Wednesday, but makes ‘no visible’ progress. On Thursday, when the inspector has shuffled off to wherever they shuffle off to, has assimilated all that information and experience and can do it, with confidence. No-one saw that. A jury of my peers, however, will be able to appreciate that measure of progress.

A few quotes from #sltchat (01/06/14):

  • Wonder Academy ‏@Wonderacademy: #sltchat No one can enter a room and evaluate progress, effectiveness of teaching or understand context of lesson in 20 minutes.
  • Stephen Tierney ‏@LeadingLearner: We mustn’t become dependent on OfSted for info about QoT. This should be our domain as schools and teachers – we should take lead #sltchat
  • Urban Teacher ‏@urban_teacher: Lesson Observations is only part of the picture – A grade doesn’t develop a teacher but genuine support & mentoring does!

I like the idea of schools in networks sharing staff, peer to peer work, based around specific focuses. Where there can be an open dialogue and discussion between teachers who can in turn learn from each other and their surroundings. There is also a strong case for visiting teachers not only who are held up to be leaders in their field but those who perhaps need support. You can learn much in either environment.

I want to get better – that is my aim.

I do this not by external judgement, I do this by continuing to learn.

There are many teachers I know who still cling to the ‘judgement’.

“He said it was GOOD, so I’m alright.” or “Requires Improvement?! Rubbish, what does she know?!”

I feel for them, if they decide they are alright, what is next? How precisely do they intend to improve?

I like it when someone visits me and gives me clear and honest feedback, I like that culture. Those formal and informal comments about anything that goes on, followed by, “Have you thought about…?”, ” I read that…” I don’t necessarily need to be given a label as I once did.

It comes to the culture of leadership and development.

What do we as teachers want from observation? Validation or Development.

If it is the first, then we might have an issue, but if what we really want and need, if what we can convince SLT (like me) and governors, LA and OfSted is that we just want to be better tomorrow than we were yesterday we might get somewhere.

We might do it smiling too.


@johnpearce_jp: (07-05-14)

Judgement without action is thinking without doing.


Posted on 01/06/2014, in T&L and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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