Category Archives: No grade observations

Can you hear the tigers roar?

01

At last!! Hyde has won a game. The 28th league game of the season saw my beloved Hyde FC win 2.0 at Welling, their very first league win of the season. I revealed my support for Hyde to those who though I was merely a Manchester United fan in an earlier blog, http://blog.meolscophighschool.co.uk/?p=106, and defeat after defeat has been hard for my dad and me to take. It hasn’t stopped me driving the 50 plus miles to every home game and I was mischievously hoping that the first win would come on Saturday as I sat in the stand at Haig Ave with one eye on Hyde taking the lead against Southport and the other eye, looking left and across the fields, on the other love of my life-our school! Sadly, for Hyde, Southport equalised and we gained our first point since November. For the 20 stalwart fans that made the long journey down to Kent 4 days later, it must have been a tremendous feeling to be there when Hyde actually managed to hang on to take 3 points!

We Brits love an underdog and Hyde’s fame had grown along with support from the international soccer world as their winless record had grown. In terms of fans and finance Hyde are the smallest club in the league; in terms of tweets they now have the largest following! The hang-dog Manc humour has won a host of followers willing Hyde to win from all corners of the globe. Sky’s Saturday afternoon soccer host, Jeff Stelling has taken to donning a Hyde scarf when they score. [This hasn’t been often!] As a football club we will always have the record FA cup defeat-26-0 to Preston for every quiz buff to recall and as a town, Hyde will probably be remembered more recently for the dreadful Shipman murders and the senseless gunning down of police officers, Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes. Soccer is only a game and of course it pails into insignificance in comparison but for the community of Hyde fans, the win does bring some pleasure and plenty of humour. Never stop believing!

As a school we are a small fish in the huge educational pool and not one of the well-known, century’s old public schools, selective grammar schools and not even an academy or free school-simply a humble but very proud little community school. Our results and successes, as with Hyde FC, matter to us and our community and we try our best to contribute to national educational discussions and share our ideas, not because we think that they are the best, but because we think that we should-if all schools would be open and make a contribution, perhaps teachers could actually take the lead and seize some of the initiative in the future of OUR education. Never stop believing!

On Monday this week I spent an enjoyable couple of hours after school watching a live internet broadcast where 4 colleagues from the world of education discussed the utility and future development of lesson observations. I’ve written a couple of blogs of late explaining how we have developed our lesson observations and sharing ideas from them; http://blog.meolscophighschool.co.uk/?p=134 and was able to share our ideas as part of the discussion afterwards on #lessonobs.  I have strong views on grading lessons and the nonsense of the measuring of a teacher’s worth by 1 lesson observation so guess I’m a bit biased. http://blog.meolscophighschool.co.uk/?p=69  I made the point that

 “We know our teachers best and have a variety of ways based on a myriad of information and data to decide how well they are performing-a couple of performances a year tells us they can perform a couple of times a year!”

It doesn’t tell us how their teaching is impacting on learning over time and we have been thinking about a far more thorough system that will fit lesson observations as just one contributory factor towards a teacher’s individual contribution towards learning and teaching.

http://blog.meolscophighschool.co.uk/?p=269

I’m not going to write a detailed summary of the debate [we have discussed this quite a few times at school] if you are interested you can see summaries, the film and the participant’s slides/views on the mentioned twitter account. A few to start you with might be;

Robert Coe‏@ProfCoe23hVideo from yesterday’s meeting on #LessonObs http://new.livestream.com/L4L/tdt/videos/39562354 … (from about 8 mins in) Slides at http://www.cem.org/attachments/Lesson%20Observation%2013Jan14.pptx …

David Didau‏@LearningSpy23h NEW POST How can we make classroom observation more effective? http://www.learningspy.co.uk/learning/can-make-classroom-observation-effective/ …

David Weston‏@informed_edu17h My slides from last night’s #LessonObs events along with note about what I said. http://bit.ly/1eBZmxW

Mary Myattalso spoke and has an interesting blog. She is an Ofsted inspector and much more.

@ChrisMoyse: #LessonObs You may be interested in how we do things at my school. No lesson grades for 4 years http://chrismoyse.wordpress.com/2013/11/01/professional-development-at-my-academy-no-lessson-grades-ever/ …#lcopp

@Cupacoco@FoxyMusicEd this is a great summary of last night’s #LessonObs discussion – @Aisling3ff@3FFSchools@SLNLinking check it out!

Robert Coe began the discussion explaining his own research and that of a couple of other recent researchers into the validity of using graded lesson observations to measure effective teaching [and learning] and his conclusion was that they are unreliable-experienced heads seemed no more reliable than members of the public at selecting a grade. Alarmingly, he felt that the evidence of the effectiveness of different pedagogies was also limited. As a researcher, unsurprisingly he wanted more research into how observations and feedback can be used to improve teaching and the two teachers, David Didau and Alison Peacock offered some suggestions for the way forward. Alison, the head teacher of Wroxham Teaching School, an outstanding [3x] primary school had given Ofsted a portfolio of lesson study evidence rather than a list of observation grades and they had accepted that and found the teaching to be outstanding. You know what I am trying to develop here but it is a risk-they didn’t like me telling them that we don’t do unannounced lesson observations-we got away with it because colleagues were on great form-can we give them the portfolios we will be developing-YES! Never stop believing!

David felt that lesson grades will go in 3 years and if you read his blog-learning spy-you can see his passionate arguments BUT only a small minority of schools involve themselves in the discussion and although most teachers dislike observations and grades I’m not sure of what others are proposing in their place or even how they are used. David Weston who leads the TDA and NTEN [of which we are part of the lesson study/CPD programme] pushed the case of lesson study and we obviously agree and have explained why we are involved. http://blog.meolscophighschool.co.uk/?p=129 There are benefits to using lesson observations for both the participants and the observers and if the conversations are developmental, we believe that they are a powerful form of supportive and effective CPD. Alison Peacock spoke of “an intangible sense of optimism” at her school and I would hope that we are using our observations to develop something similar here. If you are reading this and work in a job where your performance is constantly assessed and against certain criteria to determine pay, you might think that we are whinging teachers and should have our teaching measured-it is the most important thing that we do. Our problem is that the measurements used are unreliable [in the opinion of some of us] and this is especially the case, as Coe pointed out at the extremities of the graded measure-1 and 4 [outstanding/inadequate]-we don’t see as many of these grades and the consequence of being graded a 4 can finish your career. This may be based on an unreliable grading. We all want the best teachers possible in our job; observations and measures to determine the most effective teachers and teaching have to be based on research, reliable evidence and be developmental-we might then just begin to hear the teacher tigers ROAR!

Attachment

We can learn from each other-that’s why we always share our great teaching ideas [internally and now externally in our blogs] and I sent a couple of pictures of Bronagh Dooris’s Spanish lesson I was observing last Friday with Helen Hallmark to pedagoofriday-a site where teachers share ideas every Friday. I thought others might be interested to see what she was doing and it was a colourful and enjoyable lesson and presented nice photo opportunities! Teachers from other schools ‘favourited’ the tweet and the people behind the pedagoo scenes asked if I would give them a quick write up to explain what was happening. I wouldn’t normally share so much of one teacher’s work [no teacher’s pets!] but I have linked this to whole school and faculty issues to show how we develop ideas and react, in this case, to a student learning walk survey.

I ‘borrow’ lots of ideas from sites such as pedagoo to send whizzing around staff emails on our visual learning thoughts weekly spot and thought it only fair that we shared back. I did promise a short blog this week-the attachment does have lots of pictures! Thank you to Bronagh and Helen for their help.

 

 

 

As a school we have worked hard to support our students to make the most of any peer assessment/critique opportunities and to encourage quality dialogue following any teacher feedback [oral or written] Some of our tactics were explained in an article for the Leading Edge schools and we shared more in our blog http://blog.meolscophighschool.co.uk/?p=180. I’ve ‘borrowed’ lots of ideas to use with our staff for years and the development of pedagoofriday and blogs has given the chance to share back. One idea that raised some interest was a couple of photos that I sent of a Spanish lesson that I had observed earlier in the day. Observing lessons is a real privilege and even more so when the students are really enjoying their learning and the teacher is prepared to try something different to develop an area of pedagogy that has been their Achilles heel.  Enjoyment and engagement may not always be good ‘proxies’ for learning but the relationships built during fun and creative activities surely supports an environment more conducive to good learning and retention in future lessons.

Having realised that perhaps Hattie’s research finding 80% of peer assessment is inaccurate may be an underestimate, we have been developing a 3 pronged approach of supporting any critiques with specific scaffolds, Verifying It Please [learning checked and verified by more than one peer assessor] and encouraging the peer assessor to give specific examples as part of their feedback.

02

The whole process is supported by stickers and stampers, is monitored via our book monitoring and student surveys and has had an impact on the oracy and evaluative learning to learn skills of our students. They come to us below national averages and have left showing pleasing progress-we feel that our peer critique and development of feedback dialogue is one of the contributory factors. However, MFL, in our school, have always found it challenging to peer assess to the same level of dialogue as other subjects have. They are not comparing like with like of course-it is difficult to comment as fully and leave specific examples in a foreign language [especially for our lower sets] as it is using their own language [yes some still struggle with English!] and responses to feedback probably require more DIRT time to assimilate and respond and rely on feedback question/answers more. The faculty have tried out different ideas and Bronagh, who joined us as an NQT last year, enjoyed reading in our after-school reading club, Zoe Elder’s words from ‘Full On Learning’ and hopefully we are working towards both sides of the learning and teaching drivers.

03

Bronagh has trialled different peer assessment ideas in lessons and developmental dialogue scaffolds with her marking and feedback. The lesson I observed with her subject leader was in the context of the students having described and compared where they live and she was hoping that their learning would progress to extending and developing their basic descriptions by using connectives and high level phrases. She began by the students forming a human sentence where they each in turn added a word and then set them off with post-its to construct a sentence on their tables.

04

The success criterion was;

Bien-must give a structured sentence

Muy bien should add opinions to their description

Excellente could use justified opinions and another tense

You may agree with using such criteria-you may not-we use all different ideas at present.

The sentence was then peer assessed according to shared criteria and the peer assessors had to leave their feedback on the table on a different coloured post-it [it had to have two specific examples that could be used on it] and also take away [on a different coloured post-it!] a couple of ideas that they could use to enhance their own sentence. The pairs went back to their own table and read the feedback the peer assessors had given and then amended their sentence accordingly. Bronagh then sent the peer assessors back again to verify that their advice had been taken and used. As her class mascot is Pablo [who gets chucked around in questioning] she can ask the students to PABLO it-Peer Assess Borrow [2or 3 ideas to take back] so you can Learn [from the peer assessment process] and use your learning to improve your Own.

PABLOING it! The peer assessors highlighting where their advice has been used successfully!

05

A learning conversation followed based on the grade success criteria and I asked where the students felt that their learning should go next to achieve the B and A grades [they are year 9 students]-they were able to work out what was needed next, although Miss would be needed at this point to expand!

Different teachers use different ideas to encourage meaningful conversations and support feedback/PA-FISH, Berger and have scaffolds designed to suit their subject [lots on our blogs] Helen the MFL subject leader uses MONSIEUR in her French lessons.

06

Bronagh and Rebecca use SENORITA in Spanish with the students when they critique each other’s work and offer feedback advice.

07

Our 2013 Learning Walks [our walks interview students and not teachers] looked at dialogue and feedback across the school and the whole set of student comments and evaluations showed that they really valued feedback advice, feedback questions that they could respond to, teachers [or peer assessors] checking that their advice had been met and so on. MFL responses showed that they were perhaps behind in their practice, hence the follow up conversations about the difficulties any lengthy dialogue and feedback might present for the linguists. The students felt that their learning benefitted from the left hand side comments and wanted more of the right hand side.

What works best for the students? What do they think would work best if they were the teacher?
Comments to improveMarking my own/peer assessmentTeacher writing comments to improve and teacher checking themThe questionsChallenges

Comments on how to get higher level and spellings

 

 

 

 

Put comments to improveGive questions to help themPositive commentsGive them a task to do independently and see if they need helpRetry activity after feedback to earn a higher level and achieve your target

2 stars and a wish-children would get more praise

Let peer who gave 2 stars and a wish check it

Peer assessment

Go over everything with a quiz and give challenges on the previous topic

Go over a couple of students books with the whole class so everyone can learn how to improve

There was some good practice with feedback given

Dialogue devpt
Specific feedback the students can understandSpecific feedback in all books but much more developed in someChallenges issued in 1 set [can you still remember what these words mean?]plus ways to improve asked for1 thing we have done well-1 thing to improve upon“Great paragraph with good sentence structure.  To improve say what age your family is and what clothes they wear”

Positive comment and stickers

Evidence that the students have checked the feedback

Most did

We need more time to check

Evidence that the students have successfully responded to the feedback

Miss checks and corrects-gives level

Dialogue-reply-response

Miss gives us targets to improve-we respond- Miss checks our response

Sir checks for us

The dialogue goes on!!

Not that much with peer assessment

Self/peer assessment
Self/peer assessment related to a specific criteriaNot developed too much-area to considerMark test and swop booksSelf/peer assessment with an explanation/exampleNot done

Swop books and leave a what they have done well comment and target for improvement

Give levels and strengths and weaknesses

The self/peer assessor checks that their feedback has been successfully met

No evidence-to develop

The process is verified

No evidence-area to develop

But more with the use of feedback questions

Questions posed  
Questions are set by the teacher as part of the assessment process and the students answer themTime given to answer e.g. “Can you spot the pattern?” She corrects them if they are wrong.Miss-“How would you say also?” Me-“tambien”Miss checks it-now use it!

“What connectives do you know?”

When we get our books marked we get a question and will answer it-Miss responds

Sir puts “Write this in French for me”

Not all did questions

The questions are specifically aimed at levels/grades/hierarchical skills/misconceptions

Seemed to be at misconceptions or to support the topic/skill

Questions are raised by self or peers and answered

No evidence-to develop

The questions/answers are used as part of revision/written specifically into schemes of learning/used as ‘flipped learning’

Area to develop

 

The student research provided evidence for Helen and Bronagh to consider and they have responded very quickly to embed peer assessment approaches into their own practice and to share their ideas with other faculty members [and all colleagues.]  You can see that no questions were raised or answered by the students themselves.  This is an area of current interest to me in the midst of lesson observations and book monitoring. For example in science, the teacher’s main emphasis in KS4 marking is on the practice papers and questions and they tend to use feedback questions in books to prompt the students to respond to areas of misconception or knowledge they need to know.  The responses aren’t usually as developed in quality or quantity as some of the ‘written’ subjects-the scientists have thought really hard about developing literacy to improve written answers and I have been suggesting that when they give time for the students to write an answer to the feedback question, they give some extra time to allow their partner to add more to the answer to improve the quality [the all-conquering connective might jump into place!] of the original and then they need to write their own question about the topic, based on the 6 mark questions that they find difficult-thus murdering a flock of birds with the same feedback stone.

No more from me! Back to Miss Dooris and her student’s books to show you the development in action. I can’t show you the ensuing learning conversations but the peer assessor would have to justify and explain their SENORITA choices verbally and with written examples if they could manage it.

08

09

Not sure A matches S!

10

11

12

13

Enjoy!

England 3 Hungary 6

It is 60 years since the much vaunted [by us!] English soccer team were crushed at Wembley by a Hungarian team who few had heard of or taken seriously before. They came with new tactics and the score-line flattered the English who had fallen behind with their coaching and tactics and mistakenly believed that they were far better than they actually were. Sadly the same can be seen in our education system where there are alarming gaps between schools, in subjects within schools and therefore to the learning opportunities afforded students. Is the gap widening between the best performing and lowest performing schools, how do you measure performance fairly any way and do students get equal learning opportunities and as a consequence, life opportunities across the nation and internationally? I’m not sure! BUT what I do know is that we cannot afford to ever think, like England that we are better than we are and must continue to seek the best tactics and coaching possible for our teachers to support our student learning with. I explained over the last couple of blogs that we have joined the National Teacher Enquiry Network to help us to consider our CPD options and to participate in a lesson study project that really interested us and gave some of our teachers the chance to build on the shared developmental lesson observation process that I alluded to in the first blog of the term. We have only just begun our NTEN project, but I thought you may like to know how it works and how it will help us to consider and reflect on our current practice.

Many schools still insist on awarding grades for lessons based on Ofsted criteria-1 being outstanding and 4 meaning you need support pretty quickly! Some would then have additional support for the teachers who received a 3 or a 4 and for some teachers this may see the beginning of a competency issue which may end in dismissal. Often those who achieved a 2 may have some form of CPD which aims to move them to a 1. I have explained before that an Ofsted observation lesson or indeed internal lesson observations are very stressful and can make or break teaching careers. Our Super Teacher idea in September was to allow our teachers to see that one lesson out of the hundreds that they teach is a tiny aspect of their contribution to great learning and teaching in this school. They all observe each other both informally and formally and grades are not discussed-in fact it is the observer who really gains from the process by being able to see great teaching in action and borrow ideas. I make up the triad of observers and this gives me the opportunity to model new ideas with the class for the teachers to see me [fail!] and to support the feedback process [teachers worry about what they should say to their colleagues!] The NTEN process which we are trialling with 12 colleagues is shown here;

nten

We began with our 2 NQT plus 1 science teachers Joe and Rachael and they have been concerned that their G.C.S.E. students haven’t been scoring highly enough in their 6 mark questions. They planned their lessons together to see if they could use a different tactic which would raise the quality of written answers. Their idea was to use a method of encouraging the students to think about the wording of the question and what it required more than they had done in a prior assessment.

answers

img1

Of real interest to me as co-observer [the teachers planned together and then taught a lesson and observed a lesson] was that they had to anticipate how their different teaching tactics would impact on student learning and the observer, and ensuing feedback would focus on whether or not the anticipated outcome was accurate or not! 3 students were selected to consider so that it was easier to manage the observation process. This made the observers really focus on the learning rather than the teaching and the discussion afterwards was able to dig deeply into the learning that was happening. In the old style lesson observation feedback sessions, once the grade was given, the advice was often ignored or not heard [as Black and Wiliam proved happens with students in their seminal ‘Black Box’ work] You can see Joe’s predictions with the actual responses below. In the other lessons the teachers having seen Joe and Rachael’s lesson study, began to differentiate between the students in terms of predicted outcomes.

Success Criteria

Pupil A

 

Pupil B

 

Pupil C

 

1.       Student will show improvement to mark in exam question during lesson. 

2.       Student will have more confidence in answering extended answer questions. 

3.       Student will perform better on exam on Friday 8th November.

2 grades below target

EoY 10 Target  B

EoY 11 Target A

2 grades below target

EoY 10 Target A

EoY 11 Target  A*

2 grades below target

EoY 10 Target B

EoY 11 Target A

Stage

Predicted Response

Actual Response

1 Starter – Exam Words

Students will be able to name some simple exam words.

Listed over 8 different examples.

Listed 7 different examples.

Listed 4 simple words.

2 Six mark exam question

Students will write a low level answer, scoring between 0-2marks. 

Scored 1/6

Didn’t read the exam question properly. 

Slow to start, scored 2/6.

Didn’t read the exam question properly. 

Scored 2/6.

Didn’t read the exam question properly. 

3 Exam words – which is higher level pyramid activity

Students will have different ideas as to which command word requires more detail in their answer.

Worked in a pair, discussed the command words.  Identified which words were high level. 

Placed words in different arrangements.

Identified low level command words.  Discussed with peers meanings of other words.

I was interested to see how the students didn’t consider the 6 mark questions in science in a similar way to methods used in other subjects and was able to remind them [and our teachers] of how useful it was to use their prior learning in every subject when faced with similar problems. When I asked them what they knew they had to answer to achieve 6 marks in RE, they knew from their learning experience in RE to compare a Christian explained example with an explained example from another religion and to add their own conclusion. So when asked to compare an oil fuelled central heating system with a water fuelled one, a similar style of response would gain them full marks in science too [and in in history, geography or any other subject!] As adults we often struggle to make the relationship between different subjects and we have a whole school push on ‘meta-cogs’

cogs

By the 2nd lesson, the use of the support tactic began to see better quality answers for the students and they were asked to contribute their own ideas as to how their learning had gone.

Post Lesson Questionnaire

Name:
What was the point of this lesson?
What did you learn?
What can you do now that you couldn’t do before?
What worked in this lesson?
What did you enjoy most about the lesson?
What didn’t work in this lesson?
What didn’t you like about the lesson?
What would you recommend is changed about this lesson if it is taught again next year to another group?

Two more experienced maths teachers then planned their lessons to focus on some youngsters who find it difficult to access the functional skills maths types of questions in year 7.  A functional skills question might be;

problem

Clair and Alex used the strategy below to try to support the students in the anticipated difficulty with the reading and understanding of the question. When the students just have sums and numbers to work out-they are fine-throw in the words and they struggle.

functional

This began to make a difference in the 2 planned lessons and the students began to access the functional aspects of maths with more confidence than they had in the previous assessment lesson. Even on Children in Need Day when given some fun functional maths-If Pudsey had 10 lollipops etc.-the class asked if they could use the underlining method to help them. One of the chosen 3 students was absent and interestingly, the student who was previously slightly stronger with their maths wasn’t as confident in their group and with their answers and the anticipated responses were the wrong way round! When Clair and Alex were telling me this I asked if they had checked the reading ages of the two-was there a difference that might explain why the functional style questions may prove to be more difficult for the stronger mathematician. Literacy matters in every subject-even maths! It is an important message for colleagues and we shall report back to all of the staff on our research findings.

Rachel and Josie, our art teachers, focused on their shared G.C.S.E. class and they were concerned that their chosen students, for different reasons weren’t always presenting their sketch-book as creatively as they might. They chose a different whole school push –marginal gains- to help the students prioritise on their weaker areas of their learning to date. After DIRT [dedicated improvement and reflection time and a look at PINTEREST [an interactive message board for artists] they borrowed an idea from Huntingenglish blog, to help the students design their own marginal gains wheel.  The students could then focus on a red priority.

other

The anticipated and actual responses to the different phases of the teaching created a super feedback and discussion document ready for the post lesson learning debate.

Stage

Predicted Response

Actual Response

3 Students select a sketchbook page that needs improvement. Use a limited amount of materials to make improvements using marginal gains statements and Pinterest sketchbooks as  a guide  (25 mins) It is likely that A will select a page more easily than the other two. B and C lack confidence so they will probably look to others for inspiration. They are seated to enable this to happen. All three will make tentative progress at first, needing frequent reassurance and help. As the task continues, and examples are shown to the class, they will gain confidence and begin to work more independently. I would hope that, given visual sources and written prompts there should be a noticeable difference in the quality of the presentation of their sketchbook pages, based on their chosen success criteria/ marginal gains. A has made vast improvements to their page- the page was basically blank to begin with and they added texture and collage, used a range of materials (Various papers, watercolours, fineliner, pastels) to create some interesting effects. A has been influenced in their decisions by the Pinterest sketchbooks and has clearly achieved their Marginal gains objectives.A would need to go on from here to refine their ideas and further layer their use of collage. A did need some reassurance, but worked much more confidently than I expected. B has probably made the least progress out of the three, which surprises me. I think they found the pace of the lesson a little too fast, and struggled to process all of the information at once. B has however begun to make decisions and plan alterations to their page which will improve creativity. Using collage is a creative risk for B as they have not used this before.Their next step would be to stick their collage down and work into it with other media such as pastels and watercolours. I think the process will be a longer one for B than the others- again this surprises me, particularly in light of their higher target. C has made the most progress during the lesson. They have a greater natural skill than the other two students and this is reflected in their more immediate understanding of the process. C did need reassurance throughout the lesson that they were doing the right thing, but this lessened throughout the task. Their collage work is excellent and they have thought carefully about its placement, beginning to work into it with other media. I am confident that this process will allow C to reach their potential with frequent enough reminders/ encouragement.

Josie’s lesson introduced the students to two new techniques and  as I observed the enjoyment and creativity the students were experiencing  as they experimented with their learning, I did wonder what sort of curriculum we would be offering students if art wasn’t offered. There is a different intellectual challenge involved in art in comparison to other subjects but it is a centuries old one and, for me, still valid and relevant today.

Our final pair for this week linked Jen [maths] and Hannah [English] who both teach some of the same year 11 students for G.C.S.E. Jen was also looking at functional skills maths at a higher level –relating Pythagoras [measuring triangles-I think! ] to real life mathematical questions.

pythag

She wanted to find out if the students by using another school initative FISH would help them to understand the maths involved a little better.

fish

Miss modelled some answers for the students-some of which had both correct and incorrect bits and they in pairs had to FISH their response. By giving friendly, informative, specific and honest peer assessment/critique of the answers, it was hoped that the detailed thought and written information needed to FISH would help the students to really understand the mathematical thought needed to build up a thorough answer. Hannah used the same kind of tactic in the English lesson with the same students and I’ll share their feedback sessions later in the year. The difference was that the students were FISHing each other’s accounts of Mr Birling [An Inspector Calls]. Hannah’s enquiry questions was, ‘Can students provide Friendly, Informative, Specific and Honest feedback to make further progress’

Success Criteria Pupil A Pupil B Pupil C
1-Develop skills in providing explanations of textual evidence.2]-Improve G.C.S.E. responses, using detailed explanations3-Provide FISH feedback/critique A will write plenty in English but tends to ‘get lost’ in a task and will lose sight of how to achieve the next goal. A tends to ignore specific instructions and focuses on completing the task and writing a huge quantity. B wants to constantly ‘please’ in English. B needs to develop their explanations and move through a task at a quicker pace to move forwards C tries really hard, but has difficulty understanding deeper layers of meaning in literature. Explaining their answers in depth is a real challenge.

We have 2 formal observations a year and plenty of informal ones. All teachers have a choice of the class they want to be observed with and the autumn formal observation is with the line manager [and usually me] whilst the summer observation is observed by a colleague from another subject. [with myself/coach.]  Informal observations usually lead in from our hubs and focus on whatever pedagogy the two teachers decide on. The feedback for the formal observations this year is based on criteria that each faculty has developed separately based on subject specific Ofsted guidelines, whole school initiatives, faculty priorities and individual preferences and needs. You can see that the discussion afterwards is based on the pedagogy that the teacher has chosen and the NTEN style feedback points give the teacher opportunity to reflect on their skills [flexibility and adaptability mid lesson win lots of Brownie points!] whilst the observer has the fantastic CPD chance of taking away far more than the teacher! I always say that it is an absolute privilege for me and any colleague to be allowed into a fellow professional’s classroom and we have to make the most of this wonderful opportunity to talk about deep learning and its impact on our students.

Appraisal Observation Feedback     Teacher                                       Class         Observers

Subject chosen pedagogy Observer feedback comments to support development.How did each chosen strategy impact on learning? Anything you spotted for future devpt advice? Teacher view-did your teaching of each priority meet your predicted outcome and impact on student learning? Did you have to change tactics?

For the observer

3 bits of great teaching that inspired and that you are definitely going to use tomorrow! Your favourite piece of student learning-best penny dropping moment-what and with whom! What did you learn most as a teacher from today’s observation?

For the observed!

What would you like to develop next with either subject or general pedagogy? How can we [or others] help? How did today help your appraisal targets? Where next with this particular target?

As a staff we need to consider, again, the purpose of our observations. I enjoyed Chris Moyse’s recent blog where he explained that at his school in Somerset that;

‘The purpose of lesson observation at BCA is to……accurately portray what is happening in the classroom.…stimulate professional reflection and dialogue.…inform the coaching process and future developments at the academy.…help us deepen our understanding of teaching and learning.…make us even better teachers.’

I don’t think that we would radically disagree apart from perhaps mentioning the impact this should have on student learning and if schools are serious about teachers being ‘learners’ too then any notion of unannounced lesson observations and ‘plan all of your lessons on Monday [and in great detail] and you will be observed but we are not telling you when and with whom; should be banished! Just because Ofsted may do this doesn’t mean that it is the best way to use observations and develop outstanding learning and teaching. In fact if teachers are given the opportunity to participate in lesson study, peer-observations and are able to plan together and take risks together-they will perform far better when an inspector calls and will be secure in their own self-confidence of what great teaching actually looks and feels like. We know our teachers best and have a variety of ways based on a myriad of information and data to decide how well they are performing-a couple of performances a year tells us they can perform a couple of times a year!

60 years ago England didn’t learn their lesson too quickly-a year later the Hungarians drubbed them 7-1 and it would be a further 22 years before we were to win the World Cup. The education of our children is far too precious to wait 22 years before we react to innovative tactics and superior coaching.  There is an important debate surrounding the use of observations both informally and formally at present and it is important that we share our ideas and look to others for inspiration. For instance, I read about Wroxham School’s ideas in a magazine this morning [David Weston article], enjoyed and agreed with school based practical ideas on blogs by Chris Moyse and Paul Banks and followed all of the comments being made to a David Didau blog. Our staff book club read Zoe Elder’s ideas on observations and from an US perspective, Leverage Leadership offers really interesting ways of helping to mentor and coach via observations. There is an appetite for sharing and talking to each other in education now at a grassroots level and as always any comments and sharing of ideas would be greatly appreciated by all at Meols Cop.