Most teachers know the feeling. It’s time for your annual observation and you start planning your ‘special’ show lessons with more differentiation, more excitement and more assessment (or whatever you think the observer will want to see). In some cases, this is taken to an extreme – we’ve all heard stories of the teacher who bends their teaching schedule to ensure that their ‘best’ lesson, perfected over the years, is rolled out at just the right time.
James, the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) student we interviewed recently, called his observation lessons ‘elaborate’ – showing the extra work he put in. And even scheduled recordings on mobile devices will lead to the same problem – putting some lessons above others!
The problem with show lessons is that there’s no role for teacher progress. The teacher just sees the lesson as a hurdle to jump over before they can relax and go back to their usual teaching. If the observation goes well, some observers assume that the teacher doesn’t need any development for the next year – despite the fact that we all know the truth of Dylan William’s famous quote, “every teacher needs to improve, not because they are not good enough, but because they can be even better.”
This is a key area that we’ve been working on with our partner schools. We don’t want teachers producing one-off special show lessons. We also don’t want them burning themselves out trying to make sure that every lesson is of this standard. We want teachers to be confident using our discreet 360-degree video cameras to share their real lessons, warts and all. This means they can share the good bits where they made a difference with a previously challenging student. They can ask for help when they felt an explanation didn’t work. And they can compare parallel classes or watch colleagues teaching the same students and work out which strategies help learning.
As well as leading to real teacher development (and for those thinking about the next OFSTED framework in England, this goes to the heart of the implementation focus), this also re-engages teachers in their teaching.
Zara Sahota, Head of Maths at Aston University Engineering Academy in the UK, used the Lessonvu system and external coaching with Y11 classes. At the end of the process, she sent out the tweet we’re showing in this page!
Would you like your teachers to feel this way about observation? If so, please get in touch! Our Lessonvu solution that has been referred to by some as the ‘future of lesson observation’ can help your teachers achieve that and much more.
If that describes your school or trust, please get in touch with us and we’ll either come and show you our system or arrange a visit for you to see one of our partner schools!