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Lesson observations by headteacher candidate

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by loo16, Oct 14, 2017.

  1. loo16

    loo16 New commenter

    I have emailed my union about this last night but just wanted some instant advice if anyone has any.

    Our school is interviewing for the headteacher position on Tuesday. As part of the process the LA (I assume) want the candidates to carry out lesson observations on staff and give feedback. Is this a normal interview task? Staff are unhappy as we haven't been told officially just given some warning by the deputy after school on Friday.

    There are 4 members of teaching staff all of which have been observed this week for our appraisals and one is the deputy who is on the decision panel. Surely they should use scenarios or role play instead of staff that the candidates might end up working with? Not to mention we have parents evening and tracking data to input this coming week so preparing for another observation seems unreasonable. Can we refuse?

    Any advice will be gratefully received.
  2. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    Well of it is a test then your lesson should contain some obvious fails to see if they spot them!
    george1963 likes this.
  3. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Yes it's normal nowadays. I doubt you can refuse.

    I don't understand what you would have to prepare for? The purpose isn't to assess your lesson as part of any evaluation or PM of you. The purpose is for the selection panel to get evidence about whether the candidate can observe lessons and then give effective feedback to teachers. Normally the candidate and an LA advisor (or some external person) jointly observe the lesson. The candidate's 'Observation' is then evaluated by the LA person and that forms part of the evidence the section panel uses. In all the headship selection panels I have been on the candidates have not given actual feedback to the teacher, they have told the LA person what feedback they would have given, although we always offer the teacher the opportunity to get feedback if they want it. Some do, some don't. Nothing in the candidate's Observation goes onto the teacher's file.
  4. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Your Performance Management should include details of numbers of observations during the cycle. This isn't one of them. Take a running jump.

    Your union could be one of those signed up to the three hours per year limit. They will support you.

    One exception is being observed by students as part of their training. But these HT candidates aren't there to learn something that improves their teaching.

    No. Just say no. Nicely. "I think you may have forgotten. It's just not part of my annual cycle as per what's written on my PM. They're very stressful. If I weren't so tremendously busy I would have helped you out on this but I just don't have time to prepare for another observation that's not for my benefit. Think how frustrated I would be if "my" candidate weren't appointed. I would feel I had wasted my time for no reason. And if my candidate did get the job I feel I could be put at a disadvantage. Doesn't seem very fair really. I totally see what you're getting at but count me out on this occasion."

    And then get the union in if the above approach fails.
    Laphroig likes this.
  5. drvs

    drvs Star commenter

    What's the problem? Is your teaching awful when you think nobody is looking? Just turn up and do your job like you normally do - normal planning, normal preparation, normal lesson. If you're worried about the additional time needed for the feedback, just pass on it politely.
  6. cornflake

    cornflake Established commenter

    Its not part of your appraisal - so getting uppity about PM is not going to help.
    I understand that any observation can cause people to feel unsettled, but this is not about you.
    I think it is out of order that you haven't been told about this process, especially because you don't know whether they want you to teach a specific thing etc etc .... however equally, perhaps the governors thought this would cause undue stress and that you would then prepare for it as if it was for PM.
    Just as with OFSTED, it should be made clear that this is NOT part of PM.
    Pomz and caterpillartobutterfly like this.
  7. coldmetal

    coldmetal Occasional commenter

    Why should they put the pressure of an observation onto the other staff? Why don't they organise a lesson with specific flaws in it and see if the candidate picks them up? Lesson observations are highly stressful. A class dynamic whatever anyone says is always unpredictable and things can go wrong or work out wrong and nobody wants things going wrong on their watch because it reflects badly on them. Those who say "what's your problem with an observation? Are you no good?" as an answer are probably HOD's or CTM's etc

    I think it is totally wrong - the question is What can you do about it? The answer is probably nothing. The executive boards of schools and teaching corporations it seems can do pretty much what they like these days.
  8. Sally006

    Sally006 Occasional commenter

    Hi there. Happened in our school - case of arm up the back and “who wants to volunteer” to be observed by prospective Head candidates put to us by the Governors. We got together, consulted our unions and unanimously said “no!” We did however make some useful suggestions for involving staff in the interview process. They didn’t take up a single one - god forbid the staff should have any influence or opinion! However, the observation part was dropped. Stick together and stick to your guns. They can only ask for volunteers and if you all say “no” it can’t happen.
    grumpydogwoman and FrankWolley like this.
  9. delmamerchant

    delmamerchant Established commenter

    I am not sure why a lesson observation would be part of an interview. Especially as it affects you more than the interviewee. Teaching a lesson yes, presenting their vision, yes but observing a lesson, no.
    FrankWolley likes this.
  10. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    So (if this is secondary) it would either be watching a video all lesson or perhaps exam practice (silent working). ;)
    Babycakes77 and Laphroig like this.
  11. drvs

    drvs Star commenter

    Not I, just a humble subject teacher who has no responsibility whatsoever, but evidently one of the few who doesn't do any extra work for observations, doesn't find them stressful and isn't afraid to have a dialogue with any observers.

    A lesson observation only affects you if you view that lesson as being something that stands separately from your normal lessons. As far as usefulness to the interview process goes, I think it's pretty important to have a headteacher who can identify what's going on in a classroom, though IMO it would be much more meaningful if that part was carried out in the head's school.
  12. Laphroig

    Laphroig Senior commenter

    In this situation, I'd be concerned that what was seen would come back to haunt me larpter, even if it isn't part of the usual process. I just don't trust slt. I think I'd deliberately run a poor lesson with a detailed rationale for doing so. Call their bluff. However, if the candidate who observed me got the job, I'm sure they'd remember what they saw on interview. So it's a big no and a chat with the union from me.
  13. delmamerchant

    delmamerchant Established commenter

    More useful if they were observed teaching or even watch a lesson and assessed it.
  14. Pomza

    Pomza Star commenter

    Completely normal. Not really anything you or any union can do about it.

    I wouldn't stress if I were you. As others have stated, it is the candidate that is being assessed and not you. Besides, if you do a good job, then you might have impressed your new HT before they've even started in role, which can't be a bad thing.

    To be fair, whoever is appointing needs to have some indication that a potential new HT has some understanding of effective teaching and learning and that they are capable of engaging with teachers in a professional/appropriate manner...
    DYNAMO67, nomad, digoryvenn and 2 others like this.
  15. Ex-teacher

    Ex-teacher New commenter

    When we last interviewed for a new head, staff were approached and asked if they were willing to be observed. Refusals were allowed (ie the planned lesson wasn't suitable, you had 9wx4, etc), and staff were not "victimised" for saying no. Some even offered, and then said they would put a few "issues" in to see if they were fed back; the theory was the panel wanted to see how the candidates fed back and responded to staff.

    Mind you, this was in the days when there was little threat from above, and teaching was in a good place...
    strawbs likes this.
  16. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    I think this is what is being suggested and what the OP is objecting to.
    drvs likes this.
  17. Jesmond12

    Jesmond12 Star commenter

    As part of the recruitment process to find my replacement the candidates had to observe a lesson taught by the DHT. She was quite happy to do it.

    Sometimes though it can backfire. As part of one interview process I had to watch a lesson taught by a DHT in a school that needed a lot of support. Unfortunately the lesson was inadequate (and not on purpose) and I decided that this school was not for me.
  18. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    There's one big difference in your scenario, that it was the DHT being observed, in both instances in fact..

    If senior staff were observed in OPs school, rather than teachers with only teaching responsibility, there may be less fear of falling under some radar. Senior staff tend to be the ones who ascertain where a radar points, rather than suffer from the worry of falling under it. They benefit from an unspoken "immunity" in this situation.

    In fact you could be said to demonstrate the truth of this in your example twice, firstly that your last DHT was perfectly happy about being observed, and secondly, that the DHT you observed was manifestly weak in their classroom skills, and yet held the post of DHT-you don't get to be "up there" in the first place if the same performance management stick is used as against those "at the bottom", so there they were-a DHT who cannot teach well.

    If OPs HT were in tune with this on any level, sensitive to how their staff may feel, they could feasibly arrange for the observation element of the HT interview to be conducted on SLT teaching only.

    (One asks at this juncture if they are perhaps too rubbish in the classroom and the fear is that their carrup teaching will scare off candidates, as it did yourself...I notionally ask (subjunctive) them to forgive my cruel speculation if I'm wrong)
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2017
  19. Pomza

    Pomza Star commenter

    Does the OP not state that one of the people being observed is the DHT?
    nomad and caterpillartobutterfly like this.
  20. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    Ah, OK, thanks for highlighting that
    so I re-read the OP, and am now confused!
    DHT was observed this week
    DHT is on interview panel
    DHT will be observed by interviewees
    A combination of any of the three

    I dosee now how you can have read it, but then I'd say that even so, there are clearly other staff drawn into the process who do not hold that position in the school , and are worried as OP outlines
    Personally if this happened to me I wouldn't be worried and would just "go with" (I'd quite enjoy having a nosey at who wants the job!) , but then each school has led it's staff to perceive the observation process in a certain way, and I guess OP has been a victim to this somehow.

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