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Lesson Observations

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A new teaching and learning framework by Keith Grainger. Keith Grainger writes about Garth Hill College’s journey in developing a new teaching and learning framework, and how the thinking behind it and the way in which it is used is more important than the framework itself.

A new teaching and learning framework by Keith Grainger

One key principle that guided us in forming a new teaching and learning framework came from an acceptance that pupils progress well over time when teachers execute all of the basics well and provide a strong learning experience, accurately and consistently, day in, day out. Thus, learning and progress over time should determine the quality of teaching provision, not a snapshot lesson observation. It follows that we should no longer attempt to grade individual lessons, but rather seek substantial evidence of progress and learning over time. Such evidence might include scrutinising pupils’ written work, listening to their views and explanations of their learning, and analysing and reviewing their outcomes in tests and examinations. Guest Blog: Feedback on Teaching—Beyond the Low-Hanging Fruit. How can school leaders provide feedback that actually helps teachers improve their practice?

Guest Blog: Feedback on Teaching—Beyond the Low-Hanging Fruit

The traditional approach is to observe, then give feedback that includes suggestions about specific changes to make. In the 21-Day Instructional Leadership Challenge, though, I recommend not making suggestions—at least, not as the main purpose of walkthroughs. (I'll say more about what to do instead below.) Take the 21-Day Instructional Leadership Challenge! It's a tough impulse to resist, because we've been conditioned to believe that any kind of observation that isn't accompanied by suggestions for improvement is a wasted opportunity. Unseen Observations Project at Aylesbury FE College, part 1 - TeachingHOW2s.

Seeing the Opportunity I’m lucky to have been at the start of a really exciting project at Aylesbury College on unseen observations.

Unseen Observations Project at Aylesbury FE College, part 1 - TeachingHOW2s

I’ll be reporting, in the new year, on its progress. But back to the beginning. Aylesbury College’s vice principal, Fiona Morley, was very keen to maintain her interest in and commitment to developing the quality of teaching. Doing the right thing even when nobody is watching: Unseen observations. I often have the definition of ‘insanity’ offered (allegedly) by Albert Einstein in my mind when I plan developments at my own school.

Doing the right thing even when nobody is watching: Unseen observations

My wonderful late colleague Paul Ginnis often started his training days with it. Insanity is ‘Doing the same thing, the same way and expecting a different result’. As the outcomes and quality of teaching improve year on year at Bridgwater College Academy (Third most improved school in SW England), I often wonder ‘Where does our next 5% come from?’

The bar is higher now and raising it even further is harder. Guest Blog: Feedback on Teaching—Beyond the Low-Hanging Fruit. Unseen Observations Project at Aylesbury FE College, part 1 - TeachingHOW2s. If you think simply removing grades from lesson observations will solve a problem, it didn’t for us. If you have removed grading lesson observations, are you still grading teachers?

If you think simply removing grades from lesson observations will solve a problem, it didn’t for us.

How are you evaluating the quality of teaching at a teacher, department and whole school level? How are you able to articulate clearly and precisely which areas of teaching are a strength and which areas require development? All schools need to be able to answer these two questions and in fact, our students require us to. Life without lesson observation grades. In April 2014 we stopped grading lesson observations.

Life without lesson observation grades

Still grading lessons? A triumph of experience over hope. Hope is a good breakfast, but it is a bad supper.

Still grading lessons? A triumph of experience over hope

Francis Bacon To paraphrase Rob Coe’s seminal research, yesterday’s National Teacher Enquiry Network (NTEN) conference at KEGS in Chelmsford was a triumph of experience over hope. just hoping we’re doing the right things is potentially worse than useless: it might be downright damaging. This was a gathering of teachers and school leaders from a wide range of settings, all of whom are focussed on trying to move from a ‘hopeful’ approach to improving teaching and learning to a more expectant one. Finally there might the first faint glimmers of a new evidence-led dawn. But, hang on, what happens if we don’t have hope? Lesson Observations Unchained. A New Dawn. This is a short reflection on the massive difference it makes when you stop grading lessons.

Lesson Observations Unchained. A New Dawn.

I’ve embarked on the process of observing all of my teachers in my new school. Wow – what a privilege that is. So far I’ve seen 20 lessons – I saw 9 English lessons last week. I’ve got some joyous weeks ahead of me as I work through each department in alphabetical order. 97 teachers to see; a big undertaking but an absolute joy. What I have learnt from our learning observations. This week I have been the observed and the observer for our new Learning Observation process.

What I have learnt from our learning observations

Our Teaching and learning team have invented a new process that, rather than having the teacher as the central focus of the observation, places the student at the heart of the observed lesson. The premise is the criterion which requires teachers to take account of the needs of all students so whilst for the purposes of this observation we are asked to identify two students for the observer to focus on, we are, actually working on developing our thoughts about how we ensure students within sub-groups make the progress that we are expecting them to make. Prior to the observation we are asked to select the two students – AMA, SEN, FSM etc etc – that we want our observer to focus on in the lesson. Because I was being observed with my top set, I decided to focus on the AMA sub-group. 'Grading lesson observations puts barriers in the way of innovation' Andrew Harden, head of further education at the University and College Union, writes: It was unsurprising that Ofsted chief, Sir Michael Wilshaw, described a recent pilot of ungraded lesson observations in schools as "incredibly popular".

'Grading lesson observations puts barriers in the way of innovation'

We expect a similar project underway in colleges to deliver similar results. On Grading Lesson Observations. “Are you ready for your annual lesson observation Mrs Crane?” It is clear that the topic of lesson observations is an emotive one for all teachers. Few topics arouse fear and unease like the prospect of being judged on your ability to teach in a singular lesson. Still, too often, the norm is that this fear is exacerbated by the fact that such observations are a rare, all-eggs-in-one-basket occurrence. They take on disproportionate importance – necessitating disproportionate planning – with the result becoming a disproportionate and often ill-judged measure of what we do in the classroom. Chuck ’em out is the bold and brave call. Yet, the nagging doubt – no, the immovable obstacle – is the stranglehold of accountability that attends our school system.

And yet…and yet… Our experience, and the growing body of evidence, would appear to prove that such judgements are unreliable. The delusional voodoo of grading lessons has got to stop. Last week I tweeted this message, along with a link to my Lesson Observations Unchained post from last year. I received several replies from people in schools across the country where grading lessons is still very much alive and kicking. One person suggested that their lessons are given sub-grades: 2.1, 2.2, 2.3 etc. Think about the very special powers you would need to sustain that with any level of reliability! It’s either delusional madness or a weird power game of some kind. The de-bunking of lesson grading has been running for some time now.

Key slides form Prof. Licence%20To%20Observe. Evaluating Teaching and Learning: The Departmental Review. One of the key issues for us, as it is in any school, is to ensure that the quality of teaching and learning is as good as it can be. This requires us to engage every teacher and every department in a continuing cycle of evaluation, feedback and planned improvement. Over the last two years the main vehicle for this process has been our Departmental Review, as I described in this post. The key aspect of this process is that individual observations and scrutiny processes are conducted under the umbrella of a whole departmental review so that collective learning is undertaken in parallel with the development of individuals: The Departmental Review concept Originally, our main aim was to ensure that we captured as much developmental value as we could from the formal observation process. In thinking about the next cycle, next year, two key observations have been important to me: The role of lesson observations by @TeacherToolkit.

If you have been hiding under a rock, you may be unaware, that there is currently a wealth of discussion regarding the validity and future role of lesson observations in England. The Teacher Development Trust and Teach First, hosted a session at TF headquarters on Monday 13th January on this very topic. I was (oddly) excited to tune in to watch the livestream from my office at school; kindly filmed and shared by @EyeBeams of Learn 4 Life. Before I go into what was discussed during the event, I recommend you sit down and get comfortable. This is a long write-up and I have to present my pitch on the following items before sharing the content. Lesson observationsJudgementsFeedback 1.

Lesson observations are here to stay; regardless of whatever form they remain or evolve; whether they be judged or not. Share good practiceObserve good practice.Shy away from being observed.Shy away from observing others. Classroom teaching (and all the tricks) does not appear on the list above! 2. We must take a bold step to change the use of lesson observations in FE. There is little doubt about what staff working in further education feel about lesson observations. The "snapshot" graded observations aren't seen as a valid or reliable basis for judging the professional capabilities of teachers. I conducted a year-long project looking into the use and impact of lesson observations on 4,000 members of the University and College Union (UCU) in further education.

My work raises serious questions about how fit-for-purpose graded lesson observations are. Graded lesson observation – guilty as charged. With graded lesson observations in the dock, accused of being wholly ‘unreliable,’ the jury’s verdict a for gone conclusion, were left waiting for the judge’s sentence. Why the score is not even on graded lessons - news. Comment:5 average rating | Comments (2)Last Updated:25 November, 2014Section:news Ofsted may still assess FE teachers, despite changes in schools. Ucu lessonobs fenegpack nov14. Lesson observation: to grade or not to grade? Birmingham City University -

Dr Matt O’Leary is a Reader in Education at Birmingham City University (BCU). Prior to joining BCU, he was the co-founder of the Centre for Research and Development in Lifelong Education (CRADLE) and a principal lecturer in post-compulsory education at the University of Wolverhampton. Matt has worked as a teacher, teacher educator, head of department and educational researcher for over 20 years in colleges, schools and universities in England, Mexico and Spain.