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Get nervous when being observed, struggling

Discussion in 'Secondary' started by GrahamEdgar, Jun 22, 2015.

  1. I am an experienced teacher that has recently been put on a support plan due to some requires improvement observations. My problem is I fall to pieces when people watch me. Not had this problem before. Slt being supportive, but I understand I am on thin ice.

    any advice for these nerves?
  2. Skeoch

    Skeoch Star commenter

    Paradoxically, be observed more often. If colleagues of all descriptions are in and out of your classroom, they become part of the normal furniture there. Maybe invite a colleague to observe you as a volunteer - perhaps looking for the issues raised in your RI observations. Perhaps get a colleague to observe a specific pupil or group of pupils for pastoral reasons (I found this hugely useful as an observer to understand what my tutor group were doing in class). Perhaps do some observing yourself.
  3. Compassman

    Compassman Star commenter

    You don't fatten a pig by weighing it all the time.......
  4. Skeoch

    Skeoch Star commenter

    @Compassman, that's not what I meant. My line of thinking is that if observation is a rare event, it gets scarier; if it's part of the everyday scheme of things, it's potentially less scary.

    If we can pop in to each others' lessons to observe a teacher in order to learn from them, or to observe a class in order to better understand some of the children, or to observe a teacher in order to help them improve, then that must be a good thing. And I'm using the phrase pop in to suggest that it won't be a great all-singing all-dancing affair.

    And of course just observing isn't all that much use - the evidence collected must then be made useful in informing good practice. Most sports coaches will say that their athletes need to be told what they are doing and how to improve it, as observing yourself in action is rarely as fruitful as the external observer's view.

    I had the pleasure of working in a Dept where teachers would happily drop in to lessons and - if appropriate - join in too; and where informal feedback was willingly given and received. That meant that formal observations would very rarely result in surprise outcomes.
  5. Morninglover

    Morninglover Star commenter

    But that's not what 'lesson observations' have become. Before I retired it was clear that, if one didn't put on an 'interview' lesson, you would be criticised and, 'failed'.

    Now I was fireproof (as I was on fixed term contracts - they needed me as much or more than I needed them), but for most teachers this was threatening and extremely stressful.

    Incidentally the time taken in planning such observation lessons meant that other classes were disadvantaged - less time to mark their work, prepare their lessons, less energy to teach them etc.
  6. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    I am sorry that this happened to you, but it is not the experience of everybody; not mine and I can't see that the OP is suggesting it happened to them. I gave up on producing special lessons some time ago, and have had no complaints from my line manager or OFSTED.

    I think that the idea of getting others to observe is a good way of cutting back the fear of being observed (which I still struggle with). My department has regular learning walks when we all visit each other's lessons, including those of the HoD, and then discuss the best elements we have seen. Comments are recorded without the name of the person being observed, although we can all work out which are our own lessons, and I usually find the feedback quite affirming.
  7. jago123

    jago123 Established commenter

    Sorry to be blunt, but if you are an experienced teacher, you would be used to observations and therefore you shouldn't fall to pieces as you state?
  8. drek

    drek Star commenter

    I think it could be the fact that you have been put on support, and that once you are on this stage observations are not informal anymore. Every observation is one grade away from the 'formal' stage. That fact would be written down in your school's appraisal policy.
    The tone of the feedback should let you know where your management stand. Only you will know the way they are headed as regards your future in 'their' school.
    Some like to imagine that observation grades are 'standardised'. They are, but only to the will of the member of SLT, in a particular school, who placed you on 'support'. Pay attention to the way lead staff talk to you. If it is someone you trust, then perhaps letting them know you are nervous may help them support you through this stage.
    The 'lead' staff would be left in no doubt about what grade to give, at their endless 'performance' discussions. If it is left to the individuals, most teachers should be getting a range of grades, as the variables are large numbers of students, never the same 'group' and the measuring 'meter' is highly subjective!
    After seeing 'successful' staff being given 'outstanding' for ensuring that every single student on their internally assessed course gets a distinction, whether they really are working at that level or not, and the same staff being made lead, with no other experience, I no longer have any respect for the staff that 'train', 'mentor' and supposedly standardise each other to performance observe others.
    I too get nervous but now I make students and not these idiots and their untested strategies the focus.
  9. sabrinakat

    sabrinakat Star commenter

    What a patronising statement!
  10. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    Your management should not need to observe you as they are doing, to know whether or not you are a competent teacher.

    I met a HT in our local pub a couple of weeks back, I didn't tell him my extensive teaching background... just gave him some rope... he told me exactly what he used capability and observations for - to quickly get rid of staff they don't want by increasing the workload and pressure until it becomes intolerable.
  11. keepthespirit

    keepthespirit New commenter

    What a mixed bag of posts ! I agree with the view to have more and then it will become a more familiar situation. You don't wait to become confident before doing something : you become confident by doing it.
    I think the problem is that observations have been warped into worry and control procedures. The element that needs to be revived in schools is trust.
    A co-operative approach, in my view, should lead to more improvement than a coercive one.
    Focus on the pupils and become absorbed in teaching.

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