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

  1. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    This is where I have a problem with a non-specialist observing. As a mathematician, it would be relatively straightforward to convince a non-mathematician of what work was being done. In a similar way to me observing a class of children reading a book for English. There are many interpretations of the event. Is the teacher just coasting - and is this a common occurence - or is this a normal part of English language teaching? I dare say one could be convinced of either depending upon ones raison d'etre for being there.
    I quite like DM's idea of paired observations. We do this for interviews on occasion, but seldom for teacher observations.
  2. bombaysapphire

    bombaysapphire Star commenter

    In the situation I recently observed there was progress, that could have been backed up by the scheme of work and objectives. Students had also had a significant misconception taught to them which someone who does not teach Maths would not have noticed.
    I have seen this when I have been in lessons with PGCE students who are observed by non-subject specialists. The observer have raved about the progress they have seen while I have had to point out that some of the subject content taught was wrong.
    DM's suggestion of paired observations seems sensible to me.
  3. My concerns come with the following:
    After an observations there were two points that were in 'need of improvement'
    (i) I should have <u>made</u> pupils work in pairs and talk about what they are doing ( I stated they could if they felt that worked for them but it was not essential when I started the activity)
    (ii) I should <u>not</u> (correct, not) have allowed independent learning for 30 minutes without stopping the WHOLE group (I was doing 1-2-1's with pupils on my feet running around throughout this time) as that is too long. I was (as ever) offering personalised learning where all pupils were just cracking on and getting used to the new information overload.
    This was after a 20 minute session of building ideas and class discussion working through together. (starter was a pascals triangle recap)
    Now, there are some lower ability pupils (relatively speaking) doing the binomial expansion for the first time using the nCr method and we had 1 hour before they went away for a week to build their own skills.
    All they want to do is get into the groove and (for many) work alone as its one of those where pupils who are not at ease can make slips. The thought of some of them talking and doing it is simply not suitable. Despite a massive amount of progress being made I should make them work together and talk about and not allow for 'long periods' of independent learning.
    This will go on file and forms part of my performance management.
    I am happy to have someone share and develop my generic skills but to be told a method of teaching that is not conducive to learning that topic for those pupils doesn't sit well with me if the person observing has no understanding of maths beyond what they would have done as a pupil let alone its teaching.
    The person observing BTW was a music teacher.
  4. pipipi

    pipipi New commenter

    I would be unhappy if that was contributing to my preformance management.

    I also don't think that he observer has realised that plenty of maths at this level involves solo practise (rather like music) to achieve fluency and competency.

    I suppose if you were going round and explaining the same thing 121 (like don't forget the factorial every time) then that might justify stopping the whole class to remind them about factorials.

    But when each pupil has a different fault with their engine, then you need to personally finetune their thinking.
  5. So we're on internal observations. I'm glad that became clear because for me it's hard to talk about internal and external observations in the same conversation - they are so different.

    Betamale as an observer I always spend time talking to the teacher I'm observing before the lesson.
    I would want to be aware of the context for the lesson, not just in terms of the curriculum but also in terms of the behaviour of the students.
    I would ask the teacher whether there were things I could deliberately observe for them which would help them. So for example if they have behavioural dynamics going on that they'd like a second pair of eyes to analyse or if they'd like me to pay particular attention to a teaching strategy they're using so that I can reflect on it with them as a professional friend.
    I would also ensure we are agreed on the purposes of the observation. If it is cross-subject this is more likely to include things like 'better understanding the whole school experience of the student' and so on.

    Discussion after the observation would have followed on from these points. If we are required to grade the lesson according to school criteria I would first attempt reach a mutual agreement on that by starting from the point of view of the teacher being observed. In the very rare cases where that could not be achieved, I would expect that both points of view be clearly expressed in the written follow up.
    It is healthy for there to be professional disagreement. A year on when you both look back things usually make more sense.

    Did the music teacher interact with you in this way betamale?
    If not why not? Would it have been better if they had?
  6. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    Observation for Beginners - An Introduction to the Theory of Observations by Weebecka.
    It is quite obvious stuff you are talking about, and not really anything to do with the original question posed.
    Have you observed non-mathematicians? If so then tell us about the issues you faced discussing lesson content with which you were not familiar. How do you see the lesson in context? How does the teacher respond to your ideas and thoughts? That would be relevent and hopefully interesting.
  7. bombaysapphire

    bombaysapphire Star commenter

    This sounds like as much a case of "observation by rule book" as a case of a non-subject specialist. Interestingly enough I have been criticised for the opposite of point (ii) before.
    This will always be the case unless you get an observer who appreciates that there are no set rules for how a lesson should run. It all depends on the context. A lot of observers don't have the confidence to move away from the rules and look at progress.
    Not much to add Betamale except that I feel your pain.
  8. pipipi

    pipipi New commenter

    I'm not sure everything was obvious.
    Taking time to meet before an observation to discuss the focus.

    How many staff in the real world get time to do that? Normaaly I just get told someone's coming to observe me, and that i need a lesson plan for lesson 4 on Thursday.
    Then you have to find time to discuss the observation, and make sure it's not in your lunchtime!

    It's a bit like saying that we should meet with our LSAs before evry lesson to discuss what we're teaching and what we want them to do. Fine in theory, but never happens in practice.
  9. DM

    DM New commenter

    I'm not sure I want to tell a teacher everything I might look at in advance anyway. If I were to say "I will be checking the ratio of positive to negative comments" or "I intend to record the proportion of questions directed to boys and girls" it would surely influence the outcome!
  10. I'm just linking into where betamale is in his thread now and suggesting there may be other ways of looking this situation rather than just considering where the tensions and issues occurred because the observer was or wasn't a maths specialist.
    Yes I've observed and been observed by teachers of other subjects. Whether or not it has been a useful experience has depended on the way in which the observation was carried out.
    DMs point is entirely fair and I think can still sit along side what I do without that being compromised.
  11. Betamale: so sorry to hear of all this rubbish, and that's what it is. Typical 'can't do right for doing wrong'. You know your class better than the observer and I'm sure great progress was made by all. I know how personal these things can feel but please do try and put it out of mind.

    As an aside, we had OFSTED recently and a colleague who has always had good or excellent for observations got 'satisfactory'. The reason given was that the observer didn't see any group work. And this was in a lesson on surds with top set. She did have a matching exercise just prior to the observer coming in, and this was noted on her plan but to no avail. Utterly wearisome.

    The pearls of wisdom visited on me by the Head of English were to use 'hot seating' and have a 'golden envelope question'. I must remember my Coco the Clown outfit next time, seems increasingly it's not about educating any more but more childrens entertainment.

    Give me a shout next time Betamale, I'm quite handy with needle and thread, I'll fix you up a funny costume;)
  12. Thanks for your post.
    I would never pretend I could teach music and would certainly not flat out argue afterwards that as a 'specialist' in observations that I knew how to teach grade 5 flute blowing (or similar) more effectively.
    I believe in (and certainly take on board) sugestions for generic qualities of a lesson such as data/TA provision/Behaviour/School policy but I openly stated I didnt agree with the suggestions for me changing.

    Thanks for the words [​IMG]. I agree on all fronts
    No costume needed...I think some sticky notes with shapes on will be fine so I can put them on the back of kids heads as they come in the room. Then for peer learning we can guess which shape everyone else is the week before their mock exam by giving clues to each other.

    ....what % call for SLT on the walkie-talkie to have you removed?
    "Charlie, Charlie...There is a loon in my room and its not one of the 12 statemented kids.....its a <strike>teacher</strike> adult with an ID card round their neck...they look legit but..... ....over"
  13. [​IMG]
    Okay sometimes it's not possible to talk to them in advance or they simply don't want to.
    But that's my aim. I've been involved in cross curricular observations at several schools and over time worked out what seemed to be constructive. I just adapt it to take into account any specific directives from above.

    If you want to dispatch me from your thread behave sensibly betamale. You should have learnt that by now.
  14. bombaysapphire

    bombaysapphire Star commenter

    You said you wanted to know what we don't like about your posts Weebecka. I don't like comments like this, whoever they are direct at. It sounds like a threat "play by my rules or else."
  15. bombaysapphire

    bombaysapphire Star commenter

  16. 'ts friendly advice bombaysapphire. I got the impression you wanted me to say less not more and I'm trying to help you understand how easy that is to achieve.
    It's not a threat in any way. It that you you're interpreting it?
  17. bombaysapphire

    bombaysapphire Star commenter

    Another thing I don't like. I gave my opinion and you have told me it's wrong. It's not wrong it's my opinion.
  18. anon2799

    anon2799 New commenter

    Are you sure you know what your opinion is BS?
  19. I like sausages
    That sounds like a threat
    It's not a threat. Does it feel threatening?
    okay. it's your opinion.
    I thought you didn't like it when good threads get spammed?
  20. I'll leave you to spam it without me now.

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