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CPD, Leadership, Redesigning Schools

#BeyondLessonObs by @LeadingLearner and @TeacherToolkit

It may be that 2014 will be seen as a pivotal year in changing how we judge the quality of teaching.  The move from grading individual lessons to viewing teaching, students’ work and progress over time and in a more sophisticated way has only just begun.  If we are serious about having a World Class Education System then the quality of teaching and teacher quality matters more than ever. 

Our aim must be to improve it, as Dylan Wiliam would say,

“Every teacher needs to improve, not because they are not good enough, but because they can be even better.”

Front Cover

This blog post has an associated resource that is being sold on Selfy for £1.49. There is also the option of purchasing a perpetual licence, cost dependent on school size, for use of the resource across the school.

The link to the Selfy resource is here:

Selfy Resource

Purposes of Lesson Observations

Lesson observations are used for different purpose:

  • Summative to assess teaching & teachers with lessons often graded and used as a proxy measure for quality of teaching
  • Diagnostic and formative to help develop teachers and enable them to become better practitioners
  • Diagnostic and evaluative to help develop the quality of teaching

In too many schools the only form of lesson observation is summative with teachers being graded on a frequent basis with little opportunity to learn from the lesson observations.

Other concerns about this type of practice are:

  • Is the lesson being observed representative or are you seeing the one off “show pony” lesson?
  • Is the all singing all dancing “jazz hands” lesson sustainable?

It is time to move #BeyondLessonObs to the Quality of Teaching: taking into account teaching over time; work completed by students between the observed lessons and the progress shown by students through assessments.

Focus on Things That Have Impact

When teachers are observed there is too often little or nothing they learn from the experience.  This is sometimes due to a total lack of clarity about how the lesson is being judged and on other occasions an extensive tick list approach which atomises teaching into a series of unrelated tasks.

Sample Screen shot of the Excel Spreadsheet which forms part of the Selfy Resource

Sample Screen shot of the Excel Spreadsheet which forms part of the Selfy Resource

The resource is devised around a few key sections and then further sub-divided into categories:

Planning Section – Teacher Clarity & High Challenge and Developing Subject Procedural & Meta Cognitive Knowledge

Practice Section – Positive Climate for Learning and Effective Classroom Practice

Follow Up Section – High Quality Feedback and Homework (Secondary)

Each category has a crucial part in delivering high quality teaching and each one is then further broken down to produce a final list of sixteen high impact criteria.  These criteria form the basis of assessing the quality of teaching through the lessons observed, work scrutiny and progress data.  The criteria also provided an appropriately detailed level of feedback to the teacher about her/his strengths and areas for further development.

Assessments & Judgements

Screen Shot of page from the #BeyondLessonGrades Resource

Screen Shot of page from the #BeyondLessonOss Resource

The spreadsheet which forms part of the resource deliberately uses a different grading system to Ofsted’s both in terms of language and number of potential grades.  The three levels are:

  • Highly Effective Practice
  • Effective Practice
  • Not Yet Effective Practice

There are similar options available for the judgement about progress over time.  Following a number of lesson observations, work scrutiny and look at student assessment data an overall judgement on the quality of teaching is required.  Would you judge it as highly effective, good or does the member of staff require support?

We will shortly be releasing a second resource with an even greater focus on formative lesson observation and teacher learning.

This blog post’s associated resource is here:

Selfy Resource

Overview of Resource

Overview of Resource

This is the first joint venture for @LeadingLearner Ltd and @TeacherToolkit Ltd.  We hope in time that many more teachers will be able to sell resources (as well as still sharing lots of great resources for free) alongside the book writing, speaker engagements and consultancy already enjoyed by some members of our profession.

We are entering a new World.

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