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Being observed by students

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by salsera, Mar 20, 2017.

  1. salsera

    salsera New commenter

    Our school has just adopted a system whereby all teachers are to be observed by a group of students once a year. This is, according to the literature, that has been disseminated is to see whether "students" are doing what they are supposed to be doing in lessons and following certain school initiatives. Thye have also been "trained" to be able to carry out these obs. The feedback from the lessons is given to the teacher in question and also to a member of SLT.
    We already have termly observations for appraisal (one hour), plus learnings walk three times a years (30 mins and feedback given), marking and feedback scrutiny for all years groups (so twice a term) and student surveys per year groups (once every half term therefore). And now this!!!
    sbkrobson likes this.
  2. Geoff Thomas

    Geoff Thomas Lead commenter

    Sounds like time to consult the situations vacant columns.
  3. applecrumblebumble

    applecrumblebumble Lead commenter

    Wow I know budgets are getting tight but trainee SLT before they leave school that's a new one.
    ESSMAN1, knitone, sabrinakat and 6 others like this.
  4. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    Great. I bet you all applauded that as an additional opportunity to improve.
    Several implications, aside from the obvious additional scrutiny. I'll leave those to others.

    My biggest concern is this- Is this really the best use of the students' curricular time? How do they select the students who are going to do this? My best guess is that they will choose those who are well turned out, neatly combed and buttoned up. Because these students are always chosen for "initiatives". They wont choose the sweary scrappy doos to come and judge you; they'll choose sensible good achievers, because they will contrive and package this as a form of "enrichment".
    So enrich them! Give them a merit when they turn up, sweets if you happen to have any. Write a note to parents in their planner at the end of the drop-in, praising their maturity and dilligence. Later at home when drinking your gin, assure yourself that you have not actually bribed anybody, and make sure you feign modesty and surprise when the feedback is good.
    Why? Because they are children. You are a professional adult, and therefore in charge. Just because management lose sight of this does not mean that you need to as well.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2017
    ESSMAN1, knitone, -myrtille- and 13 others like this.
  5. saluki

    saluki Senior commenter

    The lunatics really have taken over the asylum. I have had one formal obs this year, plus a walkthrough, plus more walkthroughs planned. Our students also used to give written feedback as to whether we are meeting their learning styles or not. Haven't had that yet this year. I am past caring. No-one listens to my feedback about the students.
  6. MacGuyver

    MacGuyver Occasional commenter

  7. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter


    Kudos. I am loving your work. :D:D:D

    Seriously? Yes, what is advocated in post #4. Also just go with the flow. At first. I still don't see what's in it for the students and it's definitely not a good use of their time. On that basis alone I'd be very tempted to oppose it without further ado but I know that going in feet-first isn't always the best way to skin a cat.

    The more I think about the more ridiculous I think it is.

    To hell with it! I'd be piping up at the staff meeting with a quizzical look and throw a spanner in the works.

    "Sorry, I just don't get it. How does this help the students? Can they get a qualification out of it? This is at the expense of actual, er, WORK? Am I wrong about that? What's the evidence that this is useful?


    However, global ratings are also affected by the students' attitudes towards evaluating their teachers, as well as by the students' liking for their teacher and their interest in the subject of Accounting.

    And I'd also be producing this little gem. And then I'd be saying that I hoped the student evaluations were going to be checked against the pre-existing attitudes of the students to the teacher and the subject. If it can be established that the students already like you and your subject (for whatever reason) then their observations are likely to be affected. The reverse also being true. Thus invalidating the whole process. The student evaluations are worthless.
  8. stonerose

    stonerose Occasional commenter

    Presumably the students at your school are under-occupied and the person/s who dreamt up this wheeze definitely don't have enough to do!!

    Plan your escape now, even if you don't actually leave this listing ship just yet - as recommended by Geoff Thomas above. If the powers-that-be are reduced to such ridiculous gimmicks instead of constructive ideas and plans for real improvement, the school is in trouble.

    Also, I smell someone trying to make a name (and/or a buck or two) for themselves off the bent backs of you and your long-suffering colleagues. They will then plot their own escape - before the idea is summarily, but far too late discredited - leaving everyone no better off and probably angry at the waste of all manner of resources to implement this nonsense. (Especially teachers time, energies and patience.)
  9. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter


    Oh. Here's MORE evidence. From university students. They have a bias against women. This isn't even kids. This is young adults and adults!

    In the US legal action is expected because these flawed evaluations have been used to determine promotion and pay progression. A minefield!

    Oh, yes. The union rep in me would be arriving at a meeting with sheaves of paper on this. I'd have their guts for garters! I'd love it. They'd be wishing they'd never tried this on! Let me at 'em!!!
  10. salsera

    salsera New commenter

    Thanks for your replies. I have no hesiatation in putting my head abve the parapet, I'm too long in the tooth!
    I have no objection to anything as long as I see it has some benefit which try as I might I can't with this. It just seems a little sneaky and we haven't had loads of info.
    I also think, as someone mentioned, it is about justifying someone's pay check and position, a feather in their cap ...
  11. meggyd

    meggyd Occasional commenter

    How about the students teaching us? let them do inset for us! or parents. They can come in and tell us how to do our jobs.... wait a minute- that happens already.
  12. binaryhex

    binaryhex Lead commenter

    This is a wind-up. No school would do something so stupid. If so, name them and be damned.
    stonerose and les25paul like this.
  13. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter


    Research from the Netherlands too. There is NO good evidence that I can find that student evaluations are of any use whatsoever. Quite the contrary. You would be doing your managers a big favour by disabusing them of the notion that this is anything other than a fad, trend or novelty. Not only is it not useful but it could be damaging to people's career prospects.

    The sign of any connection between SET and teaching effectiveness is murky, whereas the associations between SET and grade expectations and between SET and instructor gender are clear and significant. Because SET are evidently biased against women (and likely against other underrepresented and protected groups)—and worse, do not reliably measure teaching effectiveness—the onus should be on universities either to abandon SET for employment decisions or to prove that their reliance on SET does not have disparate impact.
    stonerose likes this.
  14. pair_of_argyles

    pair_of_argyles Occasional commenter

    Just say No.
    or follow the example of one acquaintance,. Fed up repeated learning walks, observational studies, progress examinations etc He now locks the door to his room during lessons He has now followed this up with a "Lesson in Progress, Do Not Disturb" notice.
    They still come though not as often , but he says making them wait while he walks slowly across the room gives him a tiny frisson of victory each time .
    stonerose, Billie73, tonymars and 4 others like this.
  15. salsera

    salsera New commenter

    Oh it's true and it's part of what we are to have done to us - I am now about to quote the ASOSA statement to the member of staff involved - it is sad state of affairs -
    stonerose and grumpydogwoman like this.
  16. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    We had a similar scheme in our school and yes, you've guessed, it ended very badly. Students took the opportunity to put the knife into staff and the curriculum. Old scores were settled by pupils trying to undermine and discredit established and respected colleagues. A teacher is observed by students during every lesson, by giving the student voice some credibility by entrusting them to undertake observations of staff then you are opening a can of worms that may lead to colleagues' careers being seriously damaged.

    Avoid like the plague and protect your reputation and standing in the school by refusing to have any involvement in it. Get your union involved.
  17. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    O my, I really couldn't do that. If "the wrong person" tried to come in there'd be all shades of castigation.
    Worse still would be the wrong student mentioning it to the wrong parent who would have a field day with "teacher holds children in classroom against their will".

    Edit to add some-also others in the dept might need to be in and out for safe rooming/advice/request etc.It can all happen during an actual lesson. Locking the door is locking yourself out from team work and subject support.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2017
  18. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    The above

    Then ask for the evidence on which the bright idea is based.

    Then ask for the evidence showing how the school will use the information gathered to improve anything at all.

    Why can these clowns not be reported to a professional teaching body and be censured?
    stonerose and keyboard2 like this.
  19. meggyd

    meggyd Occasional commenter

    I once had a horrible timetable where i taught almost exclusively Ks3. In the summer term i was teaching non stop whilst others had very few lessons. When it came to a day of interviews for an slt post and the five or six internal candidates were told to go on a learning walk and take notes I put my foot down! There were so few lessons going on and i felt it would be disruptive and unfair to be observed all day long. Union rep said put do not disturb notice on the door. I did and i wasn't.
    stonerose likes this.
  20. rustyfeathers

    rustyfeathers New commenter

    Do not disturb notices work?!

    I once did this at my old school where every single controlled assessment lesson had been disturbed by visitors until I lost my tether. One of SLT came in to thank a pupil for the flowers his mum (and her friend) had sent for her birthday!

    As for this initiative, I'd refuse flat out. It's unprofessional and disrupts pupil learning. If the nonsensical idea isn't dropped, may I suggest getting the unions involved.
    stonerose and grumpydogwoman like this.

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