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How many 'drop in' observations should we have?

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by hbg, Jun 15, 2017.

  1. Curae

    Curae Star commenter

    How pathetic ! How damaging ! Don't they have anything else to do ? Were you given adequate notice of this or was this spontaneous ?

    Presumably you and most of your colleagues have been given gained time tasks to do which are essential to the running of the school especially as SOWS are being revised for the new curriculum. Yes SLT /HT can and will do as they please especially if no one stands up to them. It is essential that you and your colleagues call for a union meeting and put your cards on the table ...list everything why this should not be carried out , what will it result in and what exactly are the benefits of doing this so late in the term. Smells like some sort of secret agenda rather than genuine school improvement strategy. If you are secondary this is even more pathetic as half the school is out.

    Clearly your SLT have no idea on staff retention strategies and need to change their policy on staff observations.
    hbg and (deleted member) like this.
  2. Curae

    Curae Star commenter

    Short simple and to the point !
    hbg, drek and Scintillant like this.
  3. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    I really feel in need of some top-quality mentoring. Maybe my standards are slipping so I desperately need some immersion in a classroom environment where I can observe outstanding teaching.

    Once I have had this CPD I think it may be worth your while observing me. I know you want me to do my best for the students and send me off to my next school on top form. You don't want to dismiss my earnest plea for self-improvement, do you? Shall I come into your lessons and I can make some notes that will inform my personal progress?
    hbg and crazypineapple like this.
  4. newkidsontheblock

    newkidsontheblock New commenter

    You are lucky yours last 30 minutes, mine last a mere 5 minutes and that drives me insane already! Is your school on special measures or bound to be? Have the exam results drop lately? Feedback: you are lucky if you get one at my school! It seems to me that this school is bound to downgrade if there is an inspection coming up very soon. Tighten your seat belt and ride: you are the expert and you know your subject really well.
    hbg likes this.
  5. MacGuyver

    MacGuyver Occasional commenter

    This is from the NUT's list of action short of strike action instructions

    Members should not participate in any form of management led classroom observation in any school which refuses to operate a policy of a limit of a total of three observations for all purposes within a total time of up to three hours per year

    The full list of instructions can be found on page 10 here: https://www.teachers.org.uk/sites/default/files2014/workload-asos-12pp--10819--revised.pdf

    Of course, are these learning walks or is it a new official policy? Are you forewarned as to when they are happening? It's worth reading page 6 of that document, if you're in the NUT. Are NASUWT still following ASOS?

    Anyway, call a meeting of your union, get union members opinions and raise your concerns with ASLT. If you're ignored (sounds like you would be) then you can refuse to take part, provided you've gone over the 3 hour threshold. I know of a school that was subjected to this and told SLT that any member of staff that had a pink sheet of paper stuck to their door is refusing to be observed. If SLT walked in there was a lot of silent reading being done in all subjects.

    It is tricky though as SLT may say these aren't full observations, just little learning walks. I would definitely be seeking union advice on this. As you say, it's a policy that is already raising staff stress levels and will be detrimental to staff in the long run.
    hbg likes this.
  6. wanet

    wanet Star commenter

    Me thinks:
    SLT think that OFSTED will give poor feedback. trying to save their necks by creating lots of observation evidence.
    One way to deal with this would be for everyone to perform below par. Then they will need evidence of what they have done about it? If none then they are at faults. But sounds like they know there will be issues and don't know what to do.

    Yet another instance of regularly weighing the pigs. But in the case of pigs there is an end result, they have reached slaughter weight. Plus it gives knowledge of prophitability, output market weight * payment per kg - input weight of food * food cost per kg.
    But to constantly weigh teaching makes much less sense, unless weaknesses are indentified and strategies are put in place to correct any weaknesses. But in the end the main OFSTED measure is exam results, if these are below par then little else matters.
  7. Curae

    Curae Star commenter

    A good description of certain types .

    Absolutely so let teachers get on with what they were trained to do ...teach and prepare for the future especially during the scared months of June and July. Don't force an already overworked underpaid profession into constant observations A contented work force is an efficient and profitable ( good progress) one.
    hbg likes this.
  8. Curae

    Curae Star commenter

    Yes I will never understand how an SLT member who probably knows absolutely ZERO about my subject can then SIT me down and tell me how to improve ...dare they ! But I'll leave that for another day !
    hbg likes this.
  9. hbg

    hbg New commenter

    Thank you for all of your replies and support. Our union rep at school is having a meeting with the HT Tuesday regarding the issue.
    galerider123 and crazypineapple like this.
  10. -myrtille-

    -myrtille- Occasional commenter

    30 mins doesn't sound like a "drop in" to me! It sounds like an observation...

    I wouldn't have a problem with people dropping in frequently if it was in the way my previous head used to do - having a wander round the school, popping into classrooms and taking a look at what was going on. He was normally in your room for about 2 minutes. Not enough time to make a judgement about the quality of your lesson, but long enough to get a feel for what was happening around the school on a typical day. And sometimes he'd pick up pupils for behaviour issues or back you up with a difficult class.

    Formal observations are 3x per year in my place, but can be less - they do 1 in the first term, then if it's Good or Outstanding they leave you alone for a bit. I've only had 1 observation so far this year, but my HoD is doing another one this week because she needs to collect more evidence about the quality of teaching in the department.

    The main reason for observations seems to be so that middle leaders can prove to SLT that they are doing their job and are aware of what teaching is like in your department. They don't necessarily want to do them, or to catch you out, but they keep being asked to do it.
  11. Curae

    Curae Star commenter

    Yes and don't accept the reasoning behind it too readily. Let them know that it is really affecting staff morale AND getting in the way of what you be really doing.
  12. zcsaa44

    zcsaa44 New commenter

    When I was a rep I brought up the issue of drop ins with the head as I had a member who received drop ins almost twice a week and the member of SLT (was also our faculty head) would stay for 20-30 minutes. I pointed out the fact this was pretty much unannounced observations and asked if these could be limited to a maximum of 5 minutes. Suggested I would ask the members to keep a log of drop ins to make sure all the SLT were not causing undue stress and report back if any patterns emerge. My friend never had a drop in from the member of staff again, and drop ins dried up quite soon after that.
    This was with the best head I have worked under, always felt she had the interests of her staff at heart as the better we were doing the better the school did. Always aware she was taking the pressure from the trust we were in and sheltering the staff, like an umbrella to allow teachers to teach without any extra stress.
  13. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    Aside from all the stress that over-observing causes, I am also concerned about the waste of money. If SLT have so much time that they can spend much of it doing something so counter-productive, then the school has too many managers. Which means less money for other things, such as salaries for the everybody else..
  14. Jolly_Roger1

    Jolly_Roger1 Star commenter

    If we had a similar police to public ratio as there are observers to teachers in schools, we would have terrorism licked. At my last school, there were so many people doing observations (formal and otherwise), drop-ins, learning walks, 'getting a feel for what is going on in classes', etc., that we had to factor in the inevitable disruption of yet another observer wandering in and out of our lessons. As @Piranha said, if on most days, every teacher in a school has someone popping in, how many man-hours of SMT time does that represent?
  15. Jolly_Roger1

    Jolly_Roger1 Star commenter

    I found that even more disruptive than people traipsing in and out of my lab were 'door window' observations. Usually, the first you knew that this was happening was when the students started looking at the door and cheering. Standing outside the door, gurning through its window, would be one the army of observers. Particularly annoying was when this person would start rapping on the window to get your attention, usually with their keys, so that they could you invite outside to have a 'little chat' with them. The whole process was utterly disruptive.
    crazypineapple and Piranha like this.
  16. Curae

    Curae Star commenter

    Exactly !
  17. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    I have seen this sort of thing happen in business. Top managers add another layer of managers directly below them, who end up creating extra work for the rest of the company. Eventually, when costs need to be cut, some of the extra managers get fired, leaving the people who appointed them looking good becasue they have saved costs. The last bit does not seem to happen in schools, probably because Governors get convinced by the Head that all these managers are needed.
  18. Curae

    Curae Star commenter

    Well if they are short of work why don't they take on more teaching and release the rest of us for the summer and let us observe them doing what they THINK is outstanding.
  19. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    Because they are far too important and busy to do much teaching. To prove it, they have to look busy, hence observations...
    crazypineapple likes this.
  20. Curae

    Curae Star commenter

    Slightly off here but just wanted to say when I speak to my overseas teacher friends ( many of whom have been Head teachers ) they cannot understand why there is such an enormous difference in salary between an experienced teacher and HT !

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