Archive for August, 2010

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The Hostile Observation

August 29, 2010

Before the observation

“Andrew, we need to do a performance management observation as soon as possible in order to get it out of the way. I’ll just focus on progress. Which class would you like me to observe? I’d like it to be during one of my lessons so I can get cover, I don’t want to lose any of my frees. It can be any class.”

“Well, my top set year 8s are my best class. I have them Friday and Tuesday.”

“That’s fine. Is tomorrow okay? Or would you rather I wait until the lesson after.”

“I’d rather you waited, as I’m very busy tomorrow. Is there anything I need to do? Do you want a lesson plan?”

“I’ll need to have something.”

“Is there an official lesson pro forma?”

“There is but you won’t need it, just give me a rough list of what you are doing so that I can remember the details when I write up the observation.”

“Okay.”

After the Observation

“That didn’t go very well. This was an important observation. All my paperwork goes to the headteacher. When you have an observation like this you should spend hours preparing it because it’s really, really important. It should have been an all-singing, all-dancing lesson. Overall the lesson was barely satisfactory. I was focussing on progress and I couldn’t tell that they progressed. When I say the focus is progress that means I expect to see progress at least every twenty minutes, so you should be getting them to do groupwork and holding up answers on mini-whiteboards. What you did might work normally, in fact your starter is something I will try and incorporate into my lessons, but it was very old-fashioned. They did a lot of work in silence, there were only three activities and you spent a lot of time explaining things to them.

Also this was a bad choice of class. It was a very small class and they were high ability so it is no wonder they worked well and behaved well and seemed really eager to work. You should have chosen a more challenging class. In that lesson you might have been able to see progress because you managed to see their work individually and ask them all questions about what they knew at the start and end of the lesson but that wouldn’t have been possible with a bigger class, so there should have been assessment for learning. Also you didn’t give out enough merits. You only gave them to half the class yet all the students were doing lots of work. They should have all had merits every time you saw them working well. If I was teaching them I’d have given them all about 5 merits each because they were working.

Your lesson plan was not detailed enough, I wanted it spelled out exactly where you were going with every single activity. I know I didn’t give you a pro-forma and I’ll take responsibility for that, but you need to plan properly for all these things. You are going to need to be observed again before the end of the week.”

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I’m Back

August 26, 2010

Apologies for the long break in blogging.

I have been distracted by a number of things. Some work commitments, some academic commitments, and the need to do some research for some future blog entries.

I should be back to regular blogging soon.

When I first started writing this blog I was mainly writing about the Behaviour Crisis above everything else. However, as time goes on I have come to the conclusion that there are three main problems with the education system:

  • The Behaviour Crisis
  • Dumbing Down (including teaching methods)
  • Bureaucracy

Having spent so much time on the first of these, I want to take a closer look at the other two issues which I have often discussed only superficially. That said, there are still some issues to do with behaviour that I really need to look at, such as the reality of some of the alleged medical and psychological conditions that are used to explain poor behaviour.

Anyway, thank you for your patience. I intend to go back to writing a new blog entry every couple of weeks or so, or more frequently when the entries are shorter.

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