1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Hi Guest, welcome to the TES Community!

    Connect with like-minded education professionals and have your say on the issues that matter to you.

    Don't forget to look at the how to guide.

    Dismiss Notice

Students as Observers

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by kez84, Jan 2, 2011.

  1. Hi all,
    I have been asked to look at how we can further improve our student voice within school. The student council are quite active however, not with respect to teaching and learning.
    I thought about looking for students to become observers within the classroom to highlight what makes lessons interesting, how student behaviour affects lessons and so on.
    I initially thought of using my own maths classes to start this off as a pilot - see how it worked and then role out into the department and then faculties as needed.
    Has anyone tried anything similar to this? How did they go about doing it?
    I know students will need to be trusted and trained on how to observe. I also think I'm going to come up against some resistance with other staff members - as they aren't going to want to be observed by students. So, I initially thought about asking for volunteers to begin with.
    Any advice anyone could give me would be appreciated.
    Thanks in advance
  2. DM

    DM New commenter

    I think this will be extremely divisive and cause you to become deeply unpopular within your own department and throughout the whole school. It could undermine the authority and morale of teachers. Some may even find it humiliating. I can't think of one positive thing to say about it.
  3. Thanks for that. I know it is divisive, that's why I'm looking for advice on it.

  4. Don't do it!
  5. DM

    DM New commenter

    Well my advice is to think again.
    You are living in the past anyway. Michael Gove believes this sort of blurring of the roles of educator and educatee has no place in schools and Student Voice has been stripped from the new Ofsted criteria.

    The NASUWT says:
    <h3 style="margin:3pt 0cm 0pt;">Lesson observations by pupils</h3>
    Observation of lessons by pupils as a means by which judgements can be formed about the quality of teaching and learning either in respect of the work of individual teachers, the engagement of other pupils or more generally across the school, create significant issues for teachers and have a number of potentially serious implications for both staff and pupils.

    Notwithstanding any training that may be given to pupils, the NASUWT is clear that meaningful lesson observation can only be undertaken by adults who are suitably qualified. Views about the quality of professional practice should only be made by individuals with appropriate professional qualifications and experience. In England, this principle is reflected explicitly in the Performance Management Regulations, which require those observing teachers to have qualified teacher status.

    Formal student observation of teachers&rsquo; practice undermines key elements of the relationship between teachers and pupils by legitimising criticism of teachers. The use of a formal mechanism for pupil assessment of the quality of teaching and learning through evaluations of performance that are not based on professional knowledge and expertise could work to undermine unjustifiably pupils&rsquo; confidence in teachers&rsquo; capacity and capability.
    In some schools, the approach to the student voice in relation to lesson observation is extending beyond learning that aims to be relevant, purposeful and engaging for all youngsters, to the development of strategies that involve little more than opinion surveying of pupils and strategies that privilege pupils in a way that undermines, disempowers and deprofessionalises teachers.

    Regardless of any conditions that seek to commit pupil reviewers to confidentiality in respect of their evaluation of teachers&rsquo; practice, the fact that pupils cannot be held accountable for violating any such provision means that teachers cannot be given sufficient reassurance that pupil reviewers&rsquo; opinion of individual teachers will not be communicated more widely.

  6. i agree with the "don't do it" view here...
    our school are dabbling in it as a way of giving our AST something to do (!) and it has already been trialled badly.
    also, some evidence from students has been used in capability procedures...

  7. googolplex

    googolplex Occasional commenter

    On a more proactive level, the extent of student voice in my department is in terms of gaining formal verbal/written feedback on initiatives, such as new units of work, special events, etc. Hardly ground-breaking stuff, but sufficient to tick the box.
    As DM says, it's on the way out anyway; plenty of other trees remaining to bark up...
  8. I've often asked other staff to discuss what's going on in my classroom with students they respect and to feed back to me. Sometimes they have asked the student to keep an eye out for particular things and to feed back to them. This has been particularly important when there have been issues which I have been unable to pinpoint.
    Students naturally observe and they talk. The provide useful information which should be used in an informative and intelligent, not a judgemental, way. It is essential that the professional interpreting the information knows the character of the student well.

  9. I think in the main, as stated, not the best approach. When reading feedback forms kids have been asked to do with T and L in the class many (even good kids) fail to articulate themseles or can't see the big picture. They can respond with 'i wanna av more fun' not realising 6 months out from their final GCSE exam, their idea of fun is not ideal.
    On the flip I think it would be great to say "How can you work with teachers to make non contact time more productive?" ie get kids developing a VLE and being proactive about learning outside of school rather than placing al the ephasis on a teacher in a classroom.

Share This Page