Lesson observations without grades - are we going to view this as a more constructive way to move our understanding and professional development forward as we won't be listening out for the good/bad or outstanding but will see what we did well and what we need to improve on. Well that's the idea anyway.
Thursday 25th June
The new way begins. I start by meeting my observer for a mentor type chat. We discuss various things. What do I see as my strengths and what I would not be so confident with. After about 20 minutes we came up with a target - To develop opportunities for Maths Story Telling within topic work to deepen mathematical understanding.
Came up with the idea of putting Mr Grinling and number words together.
Monday 29th June
After chatting with my mentor it is not possible for him to view the lesson until next week. If we do take on this model then I think the observers would have to be free to observe for the week after the chat. Mr Grinling and his picnic will have to wait until next week.
Tuesday 7th June
I am ready! Little bit nervous but know that this is going to be a different experience and I should see it as a developmental tool. My mentor arrives early and we get started. Nerves soon forgotten I introduce the lesson. My mentor intervenes with a question about what helps the children learn and why do we need number words? It did not feel like a threat but like we were working together to do the best lesson possible. The children were great and really settled to the task of working out a picnic for Mr Grinling using number words. My mentor was able to point out a couple of things along the way which helped me to see where I could have put in a question for my more able children. It is the first time I have ever asked my observer if it wasn't time for him to leave as I knew he had another meeting to go to. He had stayed in the lesson for an hour but it felt like 5 minutes. Afterwards I completed what I thought had gone well and what could have been better.
Later, after a staff meeting, we met to discuss the lesson and filled in the Teaching, Achievement and Progress boxes. At all times it was looking for the positive. The boxes are quite small so there is not too much you can write which is the point. The final box was the Development points which lead into CPD.
I was lucky, I had my mentor's undivided attention as there are only 2 people trialling this new way. The lesson could stand alone but there was a bit of a gap between the initial meeting and the observation which might have been a problem.
It was a very positive experience and where things could have been improved I had the chance to do it in the lesson right there and then.
Not once did we mention a grade for the lesson. It didn't matter. I feel I have learnt more from this way of working.
So often as teachers we are very quick to put ourselves down. This process is looking for the good and working to improve the rest.
I have never had anyone observe me for that long but I enjoyed it! You have to feel comfortable with the observer as there is an element of trust in this process.
So where do we go from here?