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Lesson Observations with no notice - the only way forward

Discussion in 'Headteachers' started by Athena_Owl, Sep 16, 2009.

  1. I vehemently deny beating Fred. Or if I did it was either in an act of self-defence or because he was a danger to himself or others and was in full accordance with the policy on physical restraint!
    <font face="Calibri" size="3"> </font>And, yes, in the cold light of a Saturday morning, I do realise that apostrophes hasn&rsquo;t got an i in it and I appear to need some sort for IEP for dyslexic typing! But, hey, Friday nights are for alcohol, takeaways and wasting time on the internet- not literacy lessons.
  2. I did indeed! [​IMG]
    Your point about a difference between notice and no notice observations goes to the heart of the matter.
    Here's my take on what has actually evolved to be the current situation (I say evolved as no one actually planned for this to happen):
    In order to minimise stress it was agreed that Performance Management observations would be with notice. This does, indeed, allow a teacher to do praparation that they otherwise might (might!) not do for every lesson they teach. And this is fine, as astandard for formally judging performance, so long as the same standard is consistently applied, in cluding to staff on Competency.
    It is clear that the new, and the old, OFSTED framework makes no-notice drop-ins essential. These also ensure that the standard seen in with-notice observations is not the only one that is seen. There is no argument with such observations, so long as a grade is not placed in a personnel record as a result of them. Obviously an impression will still be formed and this is not a problem, nor should it be.
    The point about teachers bothering to prepare lessons when not being observed is best addressed by reference to results and discipline records surely? If the results are good then something must be going well in there!
  3. Absolutely agree. A WIDE range of evidence from monitoring should be gathered and, to be honest, I place much more emphasis on scutiny of work and results than one off lesson obs. We are all human and we all have bad days but over time we should be effective. Plus, how can I expect my staff to be creative if they fear failure because I might drop in and make judgements- I don't want a school where everyone plays it safe.
    If the children are happy and enjoy school and make good (all round) progress, that's all that counts in the end. That's the destination, the journey is up to the professionalism and teamwork of teachers, with my support.
  4. All of the above and more. Where is an applause smiley when you need it?
    The problem with observations in a Competency Procedure is that one is teaching for ones job. I have seen the fear in the eyes of people in such a situation and cannot for the life of me fathom how one can be expected to be effective in such a situation.
    Knowing a more rounded assessment is being made must be far less stressful.
  5. Athena - I'm aware that some of your comments may have been tongue-in-cheek, but I suspect that some others' views were a bit closer to reality than you may think and while your intentions may have been honourable, this isn't a laughing matter........and if you've ever interviewed a fast-track candidate for a Deputy Headship you'll realise what sort of potential heads are lurking out there ready to pounce.
  6. I assure you I am not laughing. Sometimes the bitterest humour is the best way to make a point.
  7. gjeh67

    gjeh67 New commenter

    Some excellent points Nick. The OP to this thread would have been funny IF IT DIDN'T ACTUALLY DESCRIBE what some people face every day. Intrusive observation, pop-in's that become sit-down's, informal obervations recorded on file and referred to constantly even when the inadequate lesson was a one-off and the class gets good results (not me, so not a personal gripe).
    When did observation become this checking-up process instead of the developmental process that many, many HoDs (and SLTs) operate? Could it be to compensate for the busy HT not having time to get to know their own school?
    NEWSFLASH - lots and lots and lots of teachers from NQTs through HODs to DHTs are in school at 7:30, go home at 6 and still do more work. I sometimes think that HTs imagine their schools are full fo teachers who come in and have frequent, leisurely coffee breaks and stand around the water cooler chatting about last night's telly. Yet they are never allowed to give being busy as an excuse for them not getting things done or knowing their kids or their department or their results or their schemes of work or their homework timetable or their parents or which pupils are SEN, or G&T or EAL or... I think you get the idea.
    If you are Head and you don't know within one week of starting your new job who the poor teachers and the star teachers are then you're an idiot. Get off your backside, walk the school for 20 minutes three times a day for the first week and you'll have an almost perfect picture - without ever having to open a classroom door!
    I'd go further with Heads keeping their own hand in. I'd make a contractual obligation for every state head to have to each one half term as a supply in a different school. While they are away in a school where no-one knows who they are, putting all that sit-at-the-back-of the-room-and-dispense-wisdom experience into practice. The DHT and AHT and possibly HoDs can gain experience 'acting-up' for half a term. I wonder what possible grounds our fantastically experienced SLTs could have to objecting to that?
    Imagine if that became the norm? Just picture the look on the latest fast-track HT's face when they realise they have to go back to that place they couldn't get out of fast enough.. the classroom. You know, that strange place where the real business of a school is actaully done!
    Why is the English system so up it's own backside about recording, monitoring, measuring and grading everything? In over twenty years of experience it has NEVER been the heavy-handed, over-bearing, interfering, micro-managing, dictatorial, no-notice, I'm checking up on you model that has produced the goods. Supportive inclusive practice develops people so much better and takes them so much further. 'What of the incompetents' I hear you cry. Their lack of skill, effort, vocation, knowledge, or whatever it is is thrown into even sharper focus and the main claim of no support is already a non-starter because EVERYONE is getting it as a matter of course. Comptency procedures become much more straightforward and often unnecessary as Unions usually advise them to move on before proceedings even get properly started.
    I can't say this Utopian model is easy to achieve or, maybe, even possible in every school. It certainly is very difficult to operate with a HT who is an NPQH-speak, box-ticking, let's all do what Ed (sorry Mr Balls) wants, pension-padding flunky.
    Being a HT is a tremendous responsibility and an even greater privilege. Don't abuse it by exercising the power in only one direction - down. Use it to protect staff from practices that do little to improve teaching and learning and that undermine the confidence, professionalism and commitment of even the best, most experienced teachers. Create an ethos of support - invite teachers to watch you teach - anytime. Talk WITH teachers in the corridors about teaching and learning not just AT them in staff meetings about results.
    Don't have the time? MAKE IT!
  8. If my OP did nothing else than to provoke the post above then it was worth it.
  9. I absolutely agree with this email. Also, it is a poor reflection on an HT that he should send in such a post. Observations should be implemented in the spirit of helpfulness, support and a desire to objectively improve standards. It ought not to be seen as a instrument of power differentials. Furthermore, I would like to suggest that managers should be open to being observed by staff in a reciprocal effort to raise the standards of interrelationships which are often very dysfunctional in schools - a poor reflection on managerial systems. If you want openness & an ethos of whole-hearted cooperation then it has to start at the top.
  10. 10 minute drop in observations are also beneficial in observing students, and thereby spporting staff. Senior Management gain ligitimate knowledge of student, teacher and curriculum content which can lead to useful discussions and build collegiality. I enjoy other educators observing classes and the constructive discussions which follow. Lets do more of it a break down the us and them barriers - we are all on the same team.
  11. I have one example of a teacher on competency who was not allowed to observe their observer.
  12. Completely agree re. openness and cooperation. The kind of observers I have been reading about are playing a different game, at the expense of hard-working staff. I used to call in several times each day on my teachers, giving a smile and a hand when needed. They would send for me if there was something they were particularly proud of happening, and similarly, if they were having a problem. I would ask them for feedback on my lessons, assemblies etc., and they would share their views. In this way, trust is built up, but also things like observation skills, inter-personal skills and the like. We successfully operated a no notice system, because we trusted and respected each other. The key to all of this is respect and understanding. Do heads want to progress by developing their staff, or by hammering them.
  13. Yes,trust grew as time went by. As did mutual respect and understanding. Notice was never an issue, because with ongoing contact, there were never any shocks or surprises. We would diary a date for the formal obs, but it was understood that this nothing more than ticking the box. The feedback would be to a prescribed format, and that was the major difference. Mine was a small school, so in some ways it was quite easy to know what was happening in every classroom. I was involved in all of the planning, and all of the teaching, one way or another. I know this can't happen in a large school, but I still think that ideally, there should be no suspicion, and nothing to hide. It's strange, relationships in a small school can be very easy, due to small numbers of staff. On the other hand, they can be very difficult, due to small numbers of staff.
  14. I hear you on that one.
  15. So glad I don't work in your school, athena_owl! A half decent manager will support any failing teachers, not try and 'catch them out'. I suppose you don't bat an eyelid when you get the OfSTED call as you're already doing everything so perfectly all of the time? If you have staff who are incompetent, bullying is not going to make them improve. they need support-it's your job to provide it.
  16. I agree with all that you said.
    (I was being satirical...seems it was a bit too realistic!)
  17. Satire? Hmm! I think not, but if so, then why? What exactly is your point if only satirical?
    The realism for me, comes from working for someone with your 'satirical' views!
  18. Mary...have a look through Athena Owl's posts, and I think you will find a different picture.
  19. Allow me to clarify: I do not beleive the things I wrote in the OP and the fact that such extreme nonsense seems real says a lot about many school managers.
    Either belive me or call me a liar. Over to you.
  20. Re: Post 52
    I believe I am the example of a teacher who was refused permission to observe her manager teaching the same class. I was put on informal competency and one particular class was cited as an example of my incompetency. I shared this class with a member of SMT and requested formally that I should observe the class with this teacher. The request was granted by the HT, I emailed the teacher concerned with my request and I arranged cover for my own class. At the very last minute, the SMT teacher refused to let me observe the class, saying that it wasn't fair to let my own class be taught by a cover teacher.
    I would be the first to admit that I didn't do a brilliant job with this particular Year 9 bottom set, who were being forced to study a subject none of them had any intention of continuing in Year 10. However, I generally managed to keep bums on seats and managed to cajole most of them into learning something. Not brilliant, but a whole load better than the stories I'd heard about the lessons with the member of SMT. Why should I have been criticised and have my career ruined when nobody else could do a better job than I was doing?

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