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Can't remember the last time I had a positive observation

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by nzu, Dec 8, 2017.

  1. nzu

    nzu New commenter

    I'm really starting to think I must be a bad teacher. I've been teaching for 6 years, and I'm one year into my role at my current school. I left my last school after a long period of excess pressure and the the threat of capability. No matter what I did I was always told it wasn't enough.
    My new school is tough, but I thought I would be better supported. However, one term into this year I've had observation, that I thought went well, only to find that the lesson was failed. I'm now going through a support period which sounds like informal capability.
    That doesn't really bother me, if there's room for improvement, fair enough. I think I'm just sick of being told that what I'm doing isn't right.
    Has anybody else found this? I think its been about four years since I've had a lesson that wasn't deemed in some way "requiring improvement". It's so demotivating. I feel like giving up teaching and leaving, but I'm at a loss as to what else to do.
    drek, saluki, phlogiston and 2 others like this.
  2. Jolly_Roger1

    Jolly_Roger1 Star commenter

    I am afraid the LO system is geared to 'accentuate the negative'. If the observer did not find anything on which to pass adverse comment, then they would be seen as not doing their job properly. If you are not teaching as prescribed by your school's policy, or not as your observer thinks they would do it, (remember, 'different is necessarily better' to some) it gives your observer scope to criticise.
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2017
    BelleDuJour, drek, eljefeb90 and 3 others like this.
  3. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    Actually....I had one last week...I thought it was rubbish but the DH liked it.
  4. baxterbasics

    baxterbasics Senior commenter

    I would not take it too personally because:

    1. The whole process is disgustingly patronising and an unwelcome change to the status and welfare of teachers. Routine observations have crept in over the past decade. It used to be that once you were qualified, that was it - unless you were absolutely terrible.

    2. It is extremely subjective - one person's bad lesson can be another person's good lesson. It really can be that subjective. In fact, I have even heard some people say, "it is not what happens in the lesson, but the progress shown in the book that is important". However, some schools expect you to be the proverbial circus entertainer.

    3. Observations are used to victimise and put down hard-working teachers the nation over.

    I would suggest getting out of the school that you are in. Do supply for a while and find your way into a school where you are respected and valued before you take on a permanent contract.

    Taking on a contract without knowing the school and its agenda is sadly now a huge risk to everybody's career, status and mental health. The whole system is in crisis and enveloped by an endemic blame culture.

    It is absolutely not your fault. It has happened to me, and probably thousands more (I would like to know the real figures).
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2017
  5. galerider123

    galerider123 Lead commenter

    It may just be because this school's criteria for a successful lesson are different from your previous school. Make sure to get detailed feedback so that you can tailor your approach, and hang on in there for a little longer. It might well improve here. I would assume that there is often a difference when you move from one school to another.
  6. Landofla

    Landofla Established commenter

    I have often found that teachers will repeat the same lesson over and over again for observations. It’s never just a snapshot of normal learning. “Play the game,” is what I hear. It’s a terrible shame. Imagine if doctors only saved lives when they were being observed?!

    If I were you, I would start writing everthing down (lesson obs feedback and everything that happens during your supported period) and if things don’t improve, contact your union.

    Are there any other new teachers you could talk to? Having that support network in school is really helpful. You may find everyone goes through it initially to give a UPS member of staff something to do!
    tosh740 likes this.
  7. Alldone

    Alldone Senior commenter

    It doesn't have to be like this. Worked 28 years in Indie school - had lesson observations to see good practice by different teachers. Each term we tried to observe two other teachers. Nothing written down, just a positive experience. No learning walks and lesson observations by SLT were once every three years. Every time we had an NQT starting in the school the HT would ask if I minded if they watched some of my lessons. When prospective parents visited the school I was always asked if the parents could sit in to one of the lessons. No stress and treated as a valued member of the school.
  8. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Did that school have a prep/pre-prep department attached?
    Would they like me to teach there?

    Not that there is anything other than right and decent about the support offered by our SLT, and they are absolutely lovely, but it isn't half as free as your old school.
  9. Alldone

    Alldone Senior commenter

    Hi @caterpillartobutterfly
    I think I was so lucky to have taught in that school. Just to give you some idea how different it was to most schools, is that when I first joined the school and got married, the HT asked if I would like to get married in the school chapel, and that he was happy to put on the reception at the school. I didn't do this but the HT came to my wedding, with most of the SLT. Retired two yrs now, and next month we are staying with the next HT of the school, at his holiday home in the Yorkshire Dales. I taught Physics and Chemistry to all three of his children and last summer went to the States for one of his sons weddings. My two HODs I see socially each month and consider them as close friends. As I say, I think I was so lucky to have such an enjoyable career.
  10. becktonboy

    becktonboy New commenter

    I have been retired for a few years now but heard this kind of complaint frequently when I was active in this forum, so frequently in fact that I was inspired to write a blog post to which I could refer Tessers, putting my own admittedly jaded view of LOs. You will find it here. Written in 2011, it may not provide solutions but still seems relevant.
  11. Jessaki

    Jessaki Occasional commenter

    My department was being observed by the same person once. On the same day. They had a new method of teaching we were all supposed to adopt, it was rubbish and we hated it, but on Lesson Obs day, we all planned the same lesson, same activities, doing it the 'new way'. The obs did not like me, because they were my line manager at the time and I tried to point out how the 'new way' would not necessarily work in our subject. Everyone in my department got Outstanding and I was good. We did exactly the same lesson, the only difference with me, the obs sat at the back of the room for 20mins, did not speak to a student or even look at what they were doing.

    The following year the school saw sense and we didn't have to do it the 'new way' anymore. I had my first obs, It was good, but not outstanding. If I do x y z next time, it will be outstanding. Next obs, different observation, I did x y z, still not outstanding, but if I a b c it will be outstanding. At this point I realised, it was all bowl ax. It all depends on who comes to see you and how they would do the lesson. They never follow the protocol, which should be to look at your PM targets and previous lesson obs, they do not agree a lesson focus for your obs....so you will never know what this person want to see, it is an unknown and unhelpful for teachers. It is a stick with which they like to beat us.
  12. vickysimpson1989

    vickysimpson1989 New commenter

    Are you really taking on feedback and seeking support? If more than one school is saying the same thing something has to change surely? As teachers it is our responsibility to change, adapt, grow and improve to make sure the children we have the responsibility to teach do the best they can. Having said that it takes a certain kind of strength to take feedback, really listen and put it into practice. I really hope things improve for you.
  13. Jolly_Roger1

    Jolly_Roger1 Star commenter

    Some observers are like Mrs Pugh's tea, from Under Milk Wood'.

    MRS PUGH: "Too much sugar."
    MR PUGH: "You haven’t tasted it yet, dear."
    MRS PUGH: "Too much milk then."

    I hate those LOs when you have to second guess what the observer 'wants to see', often before he or she knows themselves.
  14. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    If the same criticism is levelled at you time after time by different observers then I guess they must have a point.

    If the feedback doesn't seem to have much in the way of common features then I suggest it's just the usual lottery of classroom observation. Depends on whether the observer has indigestion/had a row with their partner/found they are unexpectedly £750 overdrawn.
    drek and caterpillartobutterfly like this.
  15. banjouk

    banjouk Occasional commenter

    Going back a few year for Ofsted Inspector training you all sit down and watch a video of a lesson. At the end of it you have to come up with a grade. You are allowed to be one 1 grade away from the predetermined grade for the lesson. Their 'Good' is my RI and so on.
  16. drek

    drek Star commenter

    Grow change adapt sounds wonderfully mindful.....but it’s been the job of everyone in a community since the birth of civilisation not just the order of teachers!
    the most important rule is that everyone has different starting and end points depending on individual circumstances.
    A running technique for usain bolt will not work for a paralympian just because it is introduced by the worlds greatest coach (a dubious title by itself....)
    And that’s why while we can learn/teach skills that enable everyone to improve....the actual skill has to be left to the individual to practise and develop depending on the circumstances they have to manage to work around.
    Circumstances alone does not make one person better than the other......
    In teaching it is absolutely unfair that a person who can talk the hind legs off a donkey about how wonderful they are at teaching but can’t actually hack it in the classroom unless it’s with chosen, selected students and groups and lots of non contact time a week.....should impose their judgements on the ones who do.

    often after the chosen ones attend one day courses on ‘project management’....... where dodgy research informs ‘best practice’ and is shared in a ‘I can drum my chest the loudest’ fashion.
    That sort of superficially acquired management wisdom has been failing everyone in the system for the past how many years god knows......

    If they keep changing goalposts and call it support....you know it’s not you...whether it’s the same school or several....

    if you feel disrespected you need to start thinking about how long you will be happy working alongside such negative people.....and when to start considering doing what makes you achieve your best.
    Even if they ‘pass’ you as in ‘thanks to me you’ve improved’.....you need to keep trying until you find a workplace where there is mutual respect for each other’s jobs.

    Right now leadership demands not commands respect from others in the system based on the behaviour and tactics they have employed for points up the TLR scale....
    BetterNow and grumpydogwoman like this.
  17. Pomza

    Pomza Star commenter

    Pass me the
    kega123, BetterNow, Alldone and 2 others like this.
  18. Pomza

    Pomza Star commenter

    Heard this kind of crazy talk before - Unless the same students were in every room, or those with identical needs and every teacher asked every question to every student at the same time and in the same way etc. etc., it was not exactly the same lesson.

    You can give 5 teachers the same plans and resources and you'll see 5 different lessons...
  19. vickysimpson1989

    vickysimpson1989 New commenter

    I am not going to apologize for taking my job seriously. We are responsible for taking care of other peoples children for 6 hours a day. If you dont take the job seriously go somewhere else and do something with less responsibility. Its a lot easier to moan than it is to really try and improve your teaching.
  20. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    You're right @vickysimpson1989
    But so is @drek

    It's just life. Everybody does it. Every day. Otherwise we'd still be prancing around in a nappy and eating with our fingers.

    It doesn't really help. And it's not likely to happen when teachers live in dread of arbitrary verdicts on their teaching and the effect on their income. You need a nurturing atmosphere to adapt, learn, grow etc etc. And a lot of schools don't offer such an environment.
    BetterNow likes this.

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