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Observations

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by Betamale, Feb 11, 2011.

  1. Do you think its important that maths lessons/teachers are observed by maths specialists when it comes to either internal perfromance management or external inspections?
     
  2. DM

    DM New commenter

    External inspections yes. Internal inspections no. If I observe a Spanish lesson, for example, I think my complete ignorance of the content actually helps me focus on the teaching and learning. When I observe maths lessons, I often think "I wouldn't have done it like that."
     
  3. Crowbob

    Crowbob Established commenter

    Nope.
     
  4. The structure used for the observation is much more important than the specialist skills of the person observing.
    Give me a non-specialist who carries out an observation where perceptions are discussed and feedback is qualitative over a specialist who comes in for 20 mins, grades you on a single scale, gives you feedback which is completely mad and then leaves any day.
     
  5. Glad that's not just me then! I agree that it can be more difficult to focus on the lesson itself, not what you would do yourself.
    However, is maths taught and learned in a different way to most other subjects? If so, is it important that the observer has some insight into this?
     
  6. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    It very much depends upon the nature of the observation. If the observation is to do with classroom management then a non-specialist would be just as effective as a specialist and perhaps, as DM pointed out, even better.
    However, if the observation is to do with progress in the lesson, on the content of the lesson and with how a specific subject is being taught, then in my opinion the observation must be by a specialist. It would be very difficult for a non-maths specialist to see if a lesson on trigonometry was appropriate or not for example.
     
  7. My sentiments 100%
     
  8. bombaysapphire

    bombaysapphire Star commenter

    A subject specialist will pick up different things to a non-specialist. I observed a lesson this week which contained fundamental errors. Someone who is not a subject specialist would not have picked up on them.
    At least some observations need to be by a subject specialist to identify if subject knowledge is an issue.
     
  9. DM

    DM New commenter

    We do paired obs - one specialist and one non-specialist for this reason bombay.
     
  10. Colleen_Young

    Colleen_Young Occasional commenter

    DM how many observations do staff at your school have?
    Does anyone work at a school where it is quite common to drop in on other lessons?

     
  11. bombaysapphire

    bombaysapphire Star commenter

    We have periodic "learning walks" which involve staff dropping in in pairs. We are warned about them in advance.
     
  12. DM

    DM New commenter

    How long is a piece of string? In Department Reviews, every member of the Department is seen at least once. For Performance Management, every member of staff is seen at least once. On a personal level I have student teachers, potential student teachers, potential cover supervisors, parents doing tours of the school, other members of my Department, other members of Leadership popping in and out all the time. I even had a trainee Ofsted inspector in with me for a bit last term. weebecka wouldn't have approved!
     
  13. Colleen_Young

    Colleen_Young Occasional commenter

    Thanks for replies bombaysapphire and DM.
    Are people comfortable with the learning walks bombaysapphire?
     
  14. bombaysapphire

    bombaysapphire Star commenter

    I have to say - not 100% Casy. We have all been told that it's not judgemental but when the feedback was sent round the covering note said that the comments were mainly positive. When you actually read it, it wasn't. Popping into lessons for 5 minutes and making judgements, which people do or there would be no point, feels a bit hit or miss to me.
    I think in part it's a training thing for middle management who do the walk with a member of SLT. That I can see the benefit of.
     
  15. In my last role I was used to both observing and being observed, and have to remind myself that many people find observations threatening and/or pointless. When I became a head of faculty creating a more open, transparent approach with people popping in and out of lessons, was very important to me. Whenever I have a non-contact I spend time popping in to lessons for 2-5 minutes during on-task activities (ie not when the teacher is addressing the class). What I've found difficult is getting the team to engage in peer observations. Some of my team don't feel comfortable in such a role, some resent doing something they're not paid for and some just can't find the time. My compromise will be to keep the peer-agreed criteria (for any given focus) but for me to do the actual leg work.
     
  16. Colleen_Young

    Colleen_Young Occasional commenter

    Thanks for the helpful reply bombaysaphhire. 5 mins seems too short a time to be making judgements, a bit hit and miss as you say.
     
  17. When I tried introducing more peer observation I insisted that everybody would just to have to find one thing that was good and make a positive comment about it. No negative comments and no targets to work towards.
    I was hoping that once people had got used to other teachers in the room, the comments could then develop and become more useful. But initially it was hard enough to get people using their frees etc so in a way, the ones you want to 'get out there' find a way not to. The ones who want to develop themselves , and others, found a way.
    I made this a feature of the maths meetings, that people would have to feedback one positive thing they had seen someone else do..
    I had to leave for other reasons, so i never saw it through completely.
     
  18. Scheme of work

    Lesson plan with explicit outcomes that match the SoW

    Assessment within the lesson

    Key question outlined and used

    Information about the ability of the group, again with reference to the SoW


    I observe a vast range of subjects and ... if I cannot see progress I am happy to have the subject specialist talk me through the progress ... I expect that they would be able to evidence this using the SoW and assessment objectives form teh lesson
     
  19. I have mixed feelings on specialist v non-specialist. I recently had an observation from the Head of English and whilst the lesson went very well I got a big long list of 'activities' they do in English which it was suggested I try. I already incorporate more activities in lessons than most in my department and many of the 'helpful' suggestions simply wouldn't be applicable or work in maths.


    I have observed in other subjects and picked up useful things but wouldn't dream of foisting maths specific ideas onto others.

     
  20. Yet again, 100% my thoughts
    So between this and Karvol's post sums up my outlook.
     

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