Lesson Observations: Progress at Last!

Today I had my latest lesson observation. For those who may not be aware, I’ve had a long, drawn out, and, at times, deeply unpleasant battle with my school’s management team over the accepted internal lesson observation process (and the quality control procedures, in general). Please see some of my earlier blogs for more background detail: here and here and here

A brief rewind to last week’s staff meeting: here, I once again raised the matter of anomalies on the lesson observation checklist form that my management team insist on using. I won’t go over all that again here, but, suffice it to say, I do have several issues with the format. To my great surprise, our centre manager said that she wasn’t at all comfortable with grading individual lessons if Ofsted aren’t doing it any more. However, she did follow this up by saying that it was still school policy to use the same checklist format, so I tried not to get too hopeful.

To try and get some further clarification regarding the grading procedure – in a slightly less public forum, I raised the matter once again during a one to one supervision meeting last Tuesday:

Me: “Am I right in thinking that you said yesterday that you wouldn’t be grading individual lessons any more?”
Centre Manager: “No I won’t. I’ll be looking at the books and displays in addition to the lesson and basing my opinions on that”

That night I went home feeling substantially happier than I usually feel when an observation is looming. A grade – possibly. But this time based on a variety of factors rather than just the forty-five minute lesson observation.

As if that wasn’t exciting enough: this morning, a more senior Area Manager appeared my classroom. Having perched himself on a desk, he went on to say that he’d been looking again at evidence from my ‘requires improvement’ lesson from last Autumn. Apparently, having reviewed it, there is no evidence that the person observing me had ever received any formal lesson observation training. Therefore, in light of this, the decision had been made to ‘scratch that’ and start again afresh today.

I can’t think what to type here in response to that, as I don’t really know what to make of it all myself. Curiouser and curiouser…

I did take (yet another!) opportunity to moan about the observation criteria checklist form. The response to this was that he had imminent plans to raise this matter with the Head Teacher of the school. Pleasing news!

Less than an hour later (and still reeling slightly from all of the above) at 9.15am today, my observed lesson began. I was much happier with the academic content of this lesson than previous observation efforts, although I admit I couldn’t help still trying my best to reference as much of the criteria checklist as I could manage. The group of Year 10 kids I was teaching were well behaved, responsive, and all achieved what I hoped they would.

At four thirty this evening, the centre manager came to give me my feedback about the lesson. She didn’t mention or share what she had ticked on the pro forma checklist. Instead, she went through all the written notes she had made, offered me some ideas for improvements and suggested some things I could consider doing differently next time. She went on to compliment me on things that she felt worked well. She also praised my marking and was positive about the pupils’ progress over time.

And that was it. No grade.

So I find myself in previously unexplored territory. Here I sit, typing away, completely and blissfully unaware of whether this particular lesson was ‘good’ or not. And what a nice change that is. Progress indeed.

Please follow me on Twitter: @cazzypot.

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3 Responses to Lesson Observations: Progress at Last!

  1. I think congratulations are in order. I think you have successfully rode out the nonsense that was high stakes observations in your school (with your integrity intact). It also appears to me that your hierarchy are busy rowing back without openly admitting that they were just following what Ofsted appeared to want…sometimes some honesty from the SLT would be refreshing (I don’t expect you to comment on this)…..

    (I still can’t get over the references to ‘Centre Head’ and ‘Area Manager’….urgghhh).

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  2. cazzypot2013 says:

    Thanks for the comment. I don’t think the management even realise that they’ve (more or less) admitted to only doing stuff for Ofsted (or at least that they copy exactly what they think Ofsted do). Further evidence of the pervasive influence of Ofsted, I think.

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