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Learning walks

Discussion in 'English' started by delilah, Nov 23, 2011.

  1. I am in the NASUWT and they are saying that no-one other than the Headteacher are allowed to come into your classroom on a learning walk without permission. Puts us in a difficult position and I actually think the Headteacher shouldn't put us in that difficult position.
  2. gruoch

    gruoch Occasional commenter

    My HoD does learning walks - and is the NASUWT rep!
  3. Why so worried? Presumably if you are doing decent lessons and kids are learning, you're happy for people to see this, and if you're not, your SLT is paid to know that and support you to sorting it out? Don't teachers need to be a bit more transparent in terms of their classroom pratice?
  4. chalkerso, how may usernames have you had now? And you are still plugging your 100 cool lesson activities!
  5. manc

    manc New commenter

    Mr Harris' argument (basically 'as long as you're good, you need not worry') seems a good defence of the SMT Spying Stroll. But surely that is the same sort of logic which justifies the Gestapo - as long as you are not betraying the Fatherland there's no need to worry about that knock on your door. I don't want to live in a surveillence society. I am a professional and I want to treated as a professional.
  6. manc

    manc New commenter

    I seem to have no contrary view expressed - excellent.
  7. Oh, go on then if I have to...
    1) to compare supporting the idea of learning walks to justifying the Gestapo is a silly thing to say as you probably know
    2) to compare being a poor teacher who is then offered support to improve to 'betraying the Fatherland' is an even sillier and frankly quite an odd thing to suggest
    3) if you want to be treated like a professional, perhaps stop saying / thinking such silly things and try to recognise that valuing and seeking out feedback is a characteristic of professionalism
    Will that do as a 'contrary view'?
  8. Learning walks in my joint are an informal affair....three people saunter in,smile,chat and wander out after 15 minutes and you get a little memo saying what they liked.
    Consider yourself lucky.
    Our observation obsessed place is starting 'no notice lesson observations in the New Year...they will arrive ticksheet in hand, sit down and of course...you gotta be outstanding.
    Meanwhile in the real world we all plan pretty good lessons, engage our pupils and usually meet our targets.
    When did we become so obsessed with 'outstanding?' My GP is good. My dentist is good.
    Sainsbury's is good. !!!! Waitrose very good.....I could go on.....
  9. To compare Learning Walks in a secondary school in 2011 to Gestapo activity in Nazi Germany is silly because the latter was a darkly evil state of affairs driven by ideological wickedness, whilst the former is a largely well-intentioned initiative aimed at improving schools for teachers and students. Therefore the analogy is bizarre and very frail – silly. The logic that you attempt to apply to both contexts does not stand up to scrutiny. When the Gestapo arrested German citizens, it was for acting in a way which they thought had the potential to damage the Nazi state, and they were frequently tortured, killed or imprisoned. If SLT on a learning walk witness a poor lesson, they are duty-bound to act, and the member of staff will be offered support. In the very worst case scenario, this will lead to a highly structured and transparent application of capability proceedings, also designed to support. There is no common logic here. Learning walks are patently not spying, and senior leaders are patently not spies, and that sort of highly emotive, hostile, Daily-Mail-style imagery does not help anyone.
    In honesty, I find this sort of ‘anti-observation’ hysteria quite depressing; it plays on and worsens teacher insecurity and anxiety, it erodes trust, and makes it more difficult for colleagues to support each other (and god knows we need to support each other in this often-challenging job). Doctors, solicitors and dentists are highly accountable for their work, albeit in different ways to us. Lots of teachers do seek feedback, and value having colleagues come in to their lessons to offer support and guidance – surely this is something to be welcomed rather than derided.
    However, I can understand that a lot of this sort of thinking only really works if you’ve got a decent SLT. If you haven’t, you are in trouble (but of a ‘job made a bit more difficult’ variety, rather than a ‘get thrown into a detention camp’ type).

  10. No, Waitrose is Outstanding. Seriously, anything that has a piece of paper attached which is filled in is an observation. Look carefully at your school's Performance Management policy and anything written about observation. Contact your union for a definitive interpretation (if such a thing is not an oxymoron). In a previous school, I was so hacked off with no notices observation- it was a special measures school - that I told my head of department that, if anyone walked in with a tick sheet to observe the lesson, I'd walk out of the room and leave them with the class. Strangely, no one ever came near me.
  11. gruoch

    gruoch Occasional commenter

    NASUWT has a definitive policy. Learning walks are not acceptable.
  12. It seems to me that you only see learning walks as having a monitoring / accountability function. This ignores the value that can be gained from sharing examples of good practice around the school as well as providing help/guidance/advice where it is needed. You are wrong to say that no teachers see LW's as supportive ? clearly some don't, for whatever reason, but many others do and appreciate colleagues coming in, taking an interest, and providing opportunities for supportive discussion of practice. You are dismissive of this and feel somehow qualified to comment on the culture of 'most schools' and the views of 'any' classroom teacher ? rather a hubristic position.

    That's not to say that there isn't a monitoring and accountability role as well ? I'm sure that SLTs use the process to monitor standards ? but that is their job and their responsibility. They are paid heaps of public money to fulfil that role. And it's also reasonable to expect teachers to perform to a set of professional standards, isn't it? What do you want instead ? 'hey everyone, don't worry about reaching a reasonable level of competence, if kids aren't learning much, well, fingers crossed you'll get the hang of it one day'? Really?

    Why on earth would you want to observe your headteacher doing paperwork? How's that going to help anyone? Heads are highly publicly accountable for their work, but observation of admin is a bit of an odd suggestion, no?

    Anyway, your experience of all this sounds much more exciting than mine ? I've found SLTs to be generally decent folk, motivated by the same blend of altruism in wanting the best for the kids/staff/school, and self-interest in wanting a decent career and working life, as anyone else in schools. I haven't seem much espionage or Gestapo-style approaches ? I liked the 'bursting' into rooms by the way ? what do they kick the door down? In through the windows like a SWAT team? Come on. I prefer to have a literal view of these things, if only because the sort of paranoid, sneering, hyper-cynical attitudes that your language betrays is demoralising, particularly to new or less experienced colleagues who hear this sort of stuff in the staffroom and conclude, quite logically, that SLT are to be feared, observation and feedback should be avoided rather than welcomed, failure or difficulties should be hidden away, and that we are all basically ON OUR OWN rather than part of a team.
  13. ps my paragraphing has disappeared, don't know why, please don't let this detract gravity from my rant!
  14. sebedina

    sebedina Occasional commenter

    I LOVE your "fatherland" response. Excellent. Totally agree.
  15. sebedina

    sebedina Occasional commenter

    Yes, indeed they "burst" into rooms. I had one recently, where two people (vice principal) and another person with clipboards burst in abruptly and I was "sprung" off my seat like a cold bucket of water had just descended. Then my feedback was "ccd" to senior (Head) like they had just captured a "spy"... It was horrible and I did not feel any support whatsoever ...It was more like a nit picking exercise, even though I had a formal observation by two other senior staff and had been rated "good with outstanding features"...
    Now I am feeling like a rabbit in the headlights as was told there may be another one soon as well as a whole school inspection of books (the second round)..
    I think the learning walks should be supportive not "gustapo" style which I experienced...

  16. manc

    manc New commenter

    School procedures for starting a lesson,eh? And so the micro-management and teach-by-diktat mentality continues.
  17. Clive_Candy

    Clive_Candy Occasional commenter

    Gove out, Manc in!
  18. manc

    manc New commenter

    Excellent. I'm a bit scared of words like 'key', 'innovate', 'structure' and 'framework' - so go easy on me!
  19. manc

    manc New commenter

    Incidently, I love the po-faced poster who really thought my analogy was to be taken at face value, and proceeded to inform us all that the two cases were completely different. Durrrr...yes, of course...in scale, but not, actually in principle. Still, if you love living in Foucault's Panoptican, then good for you.
  20. roamingteacher

    roamingteacher Established commenter Forum guide

    A sad reflection of where we are in a profession when we feel threatened by others observing us. I'm not saying there is no reason to feel this way - I know I have certainly tensed up in the past when I see an SLT face approaching. Luckily, I'm not in this position now, and I welcome visitors to my classroom. I really value the additional perspective I gain from the narrative on what they saw. Paired with student feedback, I feel it is a really powerful way to improve my practice.
    The rationale for LWs should be discussed beforehand, with the teacher identifying - or at the very least negotiating - a focus point/s. Ensuing discussions should centre on that alone. Obviously, there needs to be trust and a culture of mutual respect rather than hierarchy.
    If that were the case for most schools in the UK, we'd be in a very different place right now in terms of morale...

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