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Learning Walk vs Lesson Observation

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by alexandrahodges, Nov 7, 2018.

  1. alexandrahodges

    alexandrahodges New commenter

    I am in need of some advice regarding observations and learning walks in school.

    I am being told that 'Learning Walks' are different to 'Lesson Observations'. For every learning walk that has taken place, formal feedback has been given and added to 'Bluesky Education' online.
    Since starting back in September I have had 6 'Learning Walks' where formal feedback has been given via Bluesky Education, and two Ofsted Observations, both of which I received no feedback for.

    What's the difference between Learning Walks and Lesson Observations? (they appear to be the same)
    How many Learning Walks/ Lesson Observations are we supposed to have each term? (so far I have had 8!)
    Are Learning Walks/ Lesson Observations different for Academies?
    agathamorse and grumpydogwoman like this.
  2. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Yes. You should only be observed in accordance with the observation detailed in your performance management planning statement and the joint NASUWT performance management/appraisal checklist. You should not, therefore, agree to any other observations whatever they are called.

    The NASUWT believes that learning walks are observations whatever else they may be called and therefore are covered by the instruction on classroom observation.



    But I can envisage a situation when you tell your SMT this and they just hoot with derision and say, "And what're YOU gonna do about it, *******?"

    I hope I'd be able to say that my fellow NASUWT members and I would henceforth be discontinuing clubs and trips and so on and so forth until learning-walks were also discontinued. But I was a union rep and at the end of my career so I could (and did) do that. Will you and your colleagues?

    That's the only way round it, as far as I know. But they could just cave in, I suppose. Just ask nicely and hope for the best?
  3. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    A few years ago when I was fully involved in mainstream, I received learning walks and did them. My view of learning walks (then) was that the main purpose was to go round and ensure that teaching and learning were taking place. If children were disrupting things, you could take them out and discuss behaviour with them.
    Towards the end of my time there was a bit more paperwork and they were starting to look for walt and wilf and probably other stuff as well. I believe that I may have had to put in paperwork. I was given two keen sixth-formers ostensibly to help me, but I soon realised that they were really there to reprioritise me if I found more important things to do.
    Lesson observations lasted at least 30 minutes and resulted in feedback, but happened less often.
    agathamorse likes this.
  4. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    My issue with this is: does it achieve its objective?

    So I'd need to know why the people conducting these walks think they're useful. What do they hope to get out of it?

    Just the general atmosphere in the school? Are staff using technology properly? What is behaviour like? Are the rooms the right temperature? Is the place clean?

    Because, if they don't know why they are wandering about or what benefit derives therefore, I don't really see the point.

    If their intention is to observe teaching then it's an appraisal. If they give feedback then it's appraisal. If they comment on your teaching (other than just to give you an encouraging word of thanksgiving) then it's an appraisal.

    And there are guidelines about that.

    Plus you risk really demotivating and alienating your staff! Is it worth it?

    I'd like to be out and about in the building and part of it but I'd want also to be a benign and helpful presence. I wouldn't want to upset people. I'd want staff and students to be cheered by my arrival.

    I don't know why anyone would do it to the detriment of morale! It makes no sense.
  5. Dyathinkhesaurus

    Dyathinkhesaurus New commenter

    I wish this were the case. Perhaps in some schools, it is.

    In schools where a culture of mistrust and fear pervades, it seems unlikely that anyone from SLT would be regarded as "benign and helpful"; staff and students would probably be cheered more by their departure…
  6. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    I feel sick at scenarios like this.
    If you're going to subject people to such intrusive and undermining levels of scrutiny, then, hey, why not just let anybody into the job who has not bothered spending time and money and effort actually qualifying????
  7. Progressnerd

    Progressnerd Occasional commenter

    Or decide that person was worth hiring in the first place...
    agathamorse, tenpast7 and sbkrobson like this.
  8. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    agathamorse likes this.
  9. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    How can you possibly have had Ofsted twice since September?

    I'd suggest any action you take has to be depend on the context.
    I've had more than six learning walks happen, but the head/deputy/head of KS are all super supportive and positive and give short and brilliant feedback. It's been new (and therefore a bit scary) but unfailingly supportive and useful.
    agathamorse likes this.
  10. betanzos

    betanzos New commenter

    Ok. I'm going to differ. With a *huge* rider that learning walks are different from observations and appraisal, and that some (many?) schools don't distinguish between the two.

    It's someone's job in your school to improve the quality of teaching of reading. By providing support, training, coaching etc. If that wasn't the case, then any improvements, however well-meaning the staff, would be unlikely to happen. And that person (a) is fully accountable (if they're SLT, to the point of dismissal) if they haven't improved things, and (b) isn't likely to be making a good go of it unless they know whether the kids are reading at home, whether the right questions are being asked, whether the tasks are well pitched, etc. etc. In fact, on (b) they're likely to make a complete mess of it if they don't have an accurate picture of what is going on across the school. So they do a learning walk, to get as much of a feel for this as possible. They can't just ask you because you may not know what you don't know.

    It's someone else's job in your school to make sure that the kids are being taught effectively by *you*. That's your appraisal. Maybe you just can't do it and the kids are getting an awful deal. Maybe you've got to the point (after all those learning walks!) where you're so cynical you don't care. That's a tiny, tiny proportion of teachers, but they're out there.They need to be supported to improve, and - ultimately - the kids deserve better if they don't. That's what appraisal observations are for.

    If one and two are separate, then what's the problem? If one's happening, do you want feedback or not? As a HT, I stick rigidly to the 3 x per year appraisal process. But I've got one teacher who completely blew all three last year (nerves), but she passed because we knew that T&L in her classroom were effective. That is a picture that builds up over time.

    Put yourself in the HT's shoes. Your career is over if the standard of teaching in Class 4 isn't good enough, but according to some on here, you're only allowed in there three times a year for a staged lesson. Really?

    It's not the amount people drop into your classroom that is the problem here (although obviously it's a pain). It's what you fear them doing to you if they spot a problem. If that fear is genuine, and your SLT are unreasonable bullies, then that issue won't go away by restricting them to 3 x per year. They'll still be unreasonable bullies, and it will happen without any evidence whatsoever. Challenge it (or find a nicer school). If they're using learning walks to collect info, provide support, improve things, then let them. That's their job.

    Waits to be flamed ...
  11. Pomza

    Pomza Star commenter

    Don’t even know what this is, but already hate it.

    In only honest answer to your questions is that your school leaders can undertake as many ‘learning walks’ as they see fit, and unless you and your colleagues can convince them to stop, there is nothing you can do about it.
    agathamorse and grumpydogwoman like this.
  12. 50sman

    50sman Lead commenter

    Unfortunately you will have to wait until next September and ask by how many perc ntsge points exam results have improved compared to how many percent observations increased in the last academic year
    agathamorse likes this.
  13. baxterbasics

    baxterbasics Senior commenter

    And as has been said many times before...is it any wonder there is a rentention crisis?

    This sort of stuff is definitely the most depressing aspect of teaching in 2018.
  14. install

    install Star commenter

    See Union asap. This sounds like slt playing games...

    1 Request School Policy on Learning Walks / Lesson Observations / Ofsted Observations. Also request PM Policy.

    2 It should be you putting any evidence on Bluesky that you deem useful for your Confidential Performance Record. Not the other way round .

    3 Have you had training on.how to download evidence on Bluesky ? Is there a clear policy about who collates your PM Evidence?.Is this fair?.:cool:
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2018
    agathamorse likes this.
  15. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    fyi BlueSky is a platform for managing, amongst other things, performance management, and can cause no end of anguish. The access rights to your notes extend to your own performance manager and the HT. It monitors adherence to deadlines, and can issue whole school targets to all staff. It will issue you repeated and incrementally abrasive emails about over due action or required responses.
    It is a budget slasher's wet dream.
    One good thing about it, OP, is that for every entry on BlueSky by your observers, you have a response box. And a "this is what I need from the school to progress" field. Not many managers highlight this fact. So If you get in there immediately and refute every single thing stated, upload bits from your lesson and reference it, then that is also a powerful tool in pm review meetings. Nobody else can edit your responses to observations. And the most beautiful and laughable thing is, nobody ever reads it. They are too busy!
    So it functions as a trump card if you are targetted in this sort of respect. It face eggs the person preparing to tell you you have failed. In that meeting, right at the end, you just say "Ah-but you do not refer to my timely responses...?"
    Hoisted by the BlueSky petard.
    agathamorse likes this.
  16. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    I always revert back to, "Why do it?"

    It was a question I asked myself before every lesson. I always told kids that they had to ask me why we were doing what we were doing. They rarely did but I badly wanted them to.

    I could never justify taking up their time if I didn't have a clear idea what the point was.

    And so with anything the management did. Why do you want us to do this? What's this for?

    So learning walks are fine if they're in a good cause. That would be a). And then you have b). You know why you're doing these walks so you then ask yourself if they're having the desired effect.

    If you can genuinely say you've a bunch of shirkers who only pull up their socks when you wander around? OK. If that's what it takes.

    If you are keen for pupils to see that you are on top of behaviour and are making a difference by not hiding in your office? Go for it.

    But what is your focus? And are you achieving what you'd hoped?

    Oh, and try explaining it to the staff! That may allay the anxiety some of them feel at being observed.

    Personally I never bothered about being observed as I did what I thought was for the best. So shoot me! But I know others do suffer a bit with nerves etc. So you explain!
    agathamorse likes this.

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