Sunday, 30 January 2011

Observing lessons

I recently read this interesting book from the Pocketbook series. It gave some interesting ideas for observing lessons and for being observed.

Here are some of the points that I will take with me after reading the book:

  • Why observe lessons? The book shares lots of purposes for observing lessons and it really makes it clear that observing lessons can be a two-way process - the observer could be there to learn (like a trainee teacher) and also to support the class teacher.
    • To demonstrate a skill
    • To share a success
    • To diagnose a problem
    • To explore alternative ways of delivering a topic
    • To assess performance
    • To support a colleague
    • To learn
    • To coach
    • To work out a solution to a problem
    • To monitor progress
    • To help with discipline
  • As an observer there could be many things that you can be looking for in a lesson, but it is important that the focus for the observation is made very clear. When observing, always consider:
    • What did the pupils know when they entered the lesson (prior learning)?
    • Was this developed or used (reinforcement/development)?
    • What did pupils leave with (new knowledge or skills)?
  • Observers can look at an aspect of your teaching to help your professional development. Ideas could be:
    • Lesson pace and structure
    • Transition between tasks
    • Behaviour management
    • Use of prior data such as key stage results and Fischer Family Trust
    • Teaching the less able/students with special needs
    • Managing group work
    • Use of praise and reward
    • Assessment
    • Key skills delivery
    • Use of support staff
    • ICT use
    • Effective starting tasks
    • How you round off the lesson
    • Pupil progress during the lesson
    • Body language
    • Questioning techniques
    • Implementing specific school policies
    • Use of VAK
    • Differentiation
  • The book describes how schools should agree fair and effective feedback protocols, and has great ideas for how a school can formulate its own criteria for judging lessons.
The book is worth a read if your school has a copy, and, although I think many of the ideas are more suited to high schools, much of the guidance can be applied to primary schools.

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