Recent musings on observations

Today I was asked by some PGCE students and some NQT students if they could arrange to observe me teaching an RE lesson. My answer? Well obviously it was “no”. And yes I mean that, no they could not arrange to see me teach. Arranging to see me teach means I will, without a doubt, carefully consider if I have ticked all the appropriate boxes. Now that is not to say I wouldn’t have planned my lesson anyway, or that I would not always be aiming to ensure rapid progress for learners in all my classes. Being observed triggers in me a desire to produce my best, something I hold my hands up to not being able to do all day every day with every class, despite my best intentions. And herein lies the problem. Can I arrange to observe you? What will this achieve? well it won’t be genuine, it will be a constructed ‘this is the best I can do and thou canst learn from it’ , type event. At this point I am very aware that this may in itself be simply my superficiality and perhaps the rest of the teaching profession would never respond in such a way, but I have a hunch I’m not the only teacher in the universe who performs a little differently when I know I’m going to be watched.

So no, no I don’t want NQTs and PGCE students arranging to come and see me teach a lesson, what I want is NQTs and PGCE students feeling free to pop in to any lesson I teach, at any time I teach and then observing what is going on. It may be they stumble across some outstanding T&L, equally they may observe a struggle with a difficult class, or some areas of a lesson that could be better or any combination of the above! They may even, in their freshness to the profession be able to offer me some pointers, some inspiration and some encouragement. What better place for open dialogue and real professional development to occur. Neither NQTs or PGCE students are coming to grade my lesson, to performance manage me or to place an Ofsted judgement on some report about me. I don’t do outstanding lessons all the time but I am driven to be better each and every day in every aspect of my job and this is a step in that direction.

So yes please come observe, don’t arrange it, just pop in. I want to be part of a culture of shared learning, not just for my students but for me, forever a student teacher.


About Learning to Teach Lorraine Abbott

Deputy Headteacher in a Surrey School Author for Hodder Education
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