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Why are observations so scary?!

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Bonnie23, Jul 9, 2018.

  1. Bonnie23

    Bonnie23 Occasional commenter

    I'm in a position every teacher has been in; it's observation week!

    I can have an SLT or the head do a learning walk at any point and they will see good or great progress in the students and I don't mind them walking in. However the moment it becomes an 'official observation' I'm terrified.

    I spend so much time planning a lesson that I could probably do with minimal prep easily.

    I think I'm scared of my observer. With any other member of staff I've had great feedback but with this member of staff he always pulls my lesson apart, doesn't give any good feedback and he only focuses on the negative. I was even given great feedback by the head once and Ofsted.

    Lack of sleep and a class that has some low level disruption students and I'm in panic mode!

    Does this apply to anyone else?
  2. Progressnerd

    Progressnerd Occasional commenter

    Yes, observations make me feel sick. Most conducted by members of staff who teach far less than you or not at all. There'll always be things they pick on that they themselves would never do in a thousand years or are impossible to do with that particular class/pupil etc
  3. Oldfashioned

    Oldfashioned Senior commenter

    Because we are subjectively judged by some muppet with a fixed idea of how a lesson should look. Just crack on and refuse to have the feedback. Are you a qualified teacher? Then you can teach.
    tenpast7, mm71, Jamvic and 7 others like this.
  4. Jolly_Roger15

    Jolly_Roger15 Star commenter

    Because the outcomes are often decided before the observation, and the criteria on which you are judged often are not decided until after the observation.
    yodaami2, Jamvic, BetterNow and 4 others like this.
  5. Skeoch

    Skeoch Lead commenter

    Because they are so rare and so high-stakes.
    Professional development systems which gather information and promote good practice regularly and in small, easy-to-digest stages, give better quality information to managers and better outcomes for staff.
  6. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    It applies until you've been in the job long enough to realise what a crock of sh.it it is!

    As explained by the previous posters!
    tenpast7, woollani, Curae and 4 others like this.
  7. lovejoy_antiques

    lovejoy_antiques Senior commenter

    As a classroom teacher you teach lessons all day. Some will always be better than others. You are only one of 25-30 people in the room, each with a plan of how the lesson should go. There is no guarantee that your plan will be the one to prevail everytime!

    Observations are scary for the same reason russian roulette is scary. You never know when your number is up. Everyone has groups they wouldn't want to be observed with. You are the same teacher with good or bad classes, however you are not the only variable in the equation, hence the stress.

    Things to do to avoid falling foul of the high stakes observation process, and the inevitable informal support plan/capability/work related stress/settlement agreement are as follows.....

    Keep your head down in staff meetings.
    Suck up to slt.
    Don't make a fuss when behavioural issues you reported are ignored.
    Agree with everything from above.
    Avoid being a union rep.
    Keep union membership quiet.
    Dont be a ups classroom teacher.
    Don't stay at any school for long enough, to be seen as part of the problem by incoming slt looking to make their mark.
    woollani, BTBAM, SamGBr and 6 others like this.
  8. BioEm

    BioEm Occasional commenter

    Depressingly accurate
    tenpast7, woollani, Curae and 5 others like this.
  9. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Except I disagree with the union rep bit.

    As union rep I think I had extra clout. They'd muck about with me at their peril. Not that they ever tried. I didn't have that kind of boss. But, had anyone ever tried, I'd have known my rights and been on the ball. Depends if you know your stuff, I guess.

    Well, not everything works for everyone. I always felt buoyed up by being the rep. I couldn't NOT be.
  10. GirlGremlin

    GirlGremlin Occasional commenter

    @grumpydogwoman I would love to have you as my union rep! I knew before I even saw from your posts that you were made for the job.
  11. Catjellycat

    Catjellycat Occasional commenter

    As someone who has done some observations, I always felt for people when they were obviously nervous. I always used to look past that (you could tell, usually their shoulders hunch up to their ears).

    I always thought that if you fell back on picking on whether the LO was up or not etc, then you really don’t know a good teacher or not.
  12. drvs

    drvs Star commenter

    When someone satisfactorily explains to me the correlation between a 30 minute lesson observation and year round performance I will gladly begin to attach some emotion to observations. In the meantime, I shall continue to teach children as I see fit.
    tenpast7, woollani, d_fahey and 13 others like this.
  13. gogogulliver

    gogogulliver New commenter

    I'm going to be a goody-two-shoes and say that I actually like them. I rarely get any feedback about my teaching from my peers so it's really useful. That said, I think my department heads are quite good at observation feedback so experiences differ.

    I know, as a teacher, I'm basically fine and things could be worse. Feedback varies from useful to box-ticky (yes, I know I could use ICT more but we also don't have any computers so what can I do?).
    d_fahey and grumpydogwoman like this.
  14. BioEm

    BioEm Occasional commenter

    That's not goody two-shoes, you've just been lucky enough to work in a place where observations are useful and aid professional development as opposed to somewhere where they're used to beat teachers down and drive them out.
    d_fahey, ATfan, agathamorse and 2 others like this.
  15. BioEm

    BioEm Occasional commenter

    Same here. I once did a joint lesson observation with an ex-OFSTED inspector and he wanted to grade the teacher down as they were nervous and (shock horror) allowed a lad in the class to keep his hat on (I was working in a 6th form at the time and the dress code was very open to interpretation, no mention in the rules about hats on or off in lesson so was very much up to the teacher). Nevertheless I listened to his feedback of the feedback he said I should give and promptly ignored it as otherwise it was a good lesson.
    d_fahey and grumpydogwoman like this.
  16. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    I never minded them much either @gogogulliver

    I'm a bit of a show-off though plus very sure of my ground. Er, conceited???

    I always did what I thought was right so I never felt there was anything much a critic could tell me. I could always learn but I'd never have listened if anyone had pulled my lesson to pieces. I'd know they were wrong. You have to have confidence as a teacher or how will you ever keep the attention of the kids? So I felt I was always at least 80% on the right track. So you could never dent my confidence too much. Coz I was definitely 80% of the way there. No matter what anyone said.

    Plus they never pulled you to pieces in the way they do these days. It's ridiculous now. Even more good reason to stand your ground.
    corgie11, d_fahey, Curae and 2 others like this.
  17. FriarLawrence

    FriarLawrence Occasional commenter

    I don't mind them TOO much, but yes, I still get twitchy before and during. There's a real Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle thing at work here: the act of observing changes the thing observed.

    If one of the endless PE teachers who make up our SLT is in the room, the kids freeze up a bit and don't respond the usual way - apparently thinking that what's expected of them is to be QUIET above all else. Drives me mad. TALK, DAMN YOU! :p
  18. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    "Don't mind me! I'm not here to upset the applecart. Just sitting at the back. Don't turn round. No, ignore me!"

    Yeaaaaaah. :rolleyes:
    d_fahey and agathamorse like this.
  19. Curae

    Curae Star commenter

    Very subjective
    I have sat in on observations deemed good when l felt nothing had been learnt and in lessons that I believed were excellent were deemed satisfactory ...needs improvement . What definitely cones out is confidence. .If unlike me you have loads u can turn a pretty mediocre lesson into a fab one. I am now after decades deemed outstanding very strong or whatever other label you wish to use. For me it's experience that made me confident but I still do feel netvous inside. ..I guess my old face is better at hiding my fear. However knowing that you teach and kids learn stuff is far better than listening to a load of old BS There is no job more easier than to criticise others. No way can anyone sustain 100 %outstanding practice it's actually important not be outstanding all the time.
    tenpast7, topgirl1, d_fahey and 2 others like this.
  20. Curae

    Curae Star commenter

    I have written similar and totally agree.I honestly believe that confidence should be taught it really is a magical ingredient that makes a huge difference in all that we do. I am self taught through decades of experience some U wanted and some I definitely didn't want.
    agathamorse and grumpydogwoman like this.

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