How can we make classroom observation more effective?

2014-02-22T13:00:21+00:00January 14th, 2014|learning|

If the belief that it's possible for untrained observers to pitch up in lessons and grade their effectiveness is comparable to a belief in witchcraft, (and Professor Robert Coe's research confirms that this is the case) where does that leave us as a profession? Observing lessons is the fetish du jour of almost every single school and school leader and, even if we informed and honest enough to accept that learning is invisible and that it's nigh impossible to get two observers to agree on the quality and effectiveness of a lesson, we're probably unwilling to let completely let go the [...]

Don't trust your gut: a little bit more on the problem with grading lessons

2014-01-13T11:34:37+00:00January 13th, 2014|learning|

This evening, there will be debate on the role lesson observation in England's schools with such educational luminaries as Professor Robert Coe, David Weston (the man behind the Teacher Development Trust), Lead Ofsted inspector Mary Myatt, Sam Freedman (Director of Teach First and ex-special advisor to Gove),, Dame Alison Peacock (Headteacher of The Wroxham School) and, er... me. Quite what qualifies me to participate beyond having a big gob and a stubborn streak a mile wide I'm not sure. However, I'm pretty damn excited to have been asked and, despite suffering with an appallingly debilitating cold, am sure it will be an excellent event. [...]

Get ahead of the curve: stop grading lessons

2014-06-04T20:39:29+01:00December 11th, 2013|blogging|

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead Over the past few years I’ve been articulating my objections to Ofsted in general and classroom observation specifically. Being a simple soul I was under the impression that whilst these observations may have struck a chord with some teachers, the rest of the world continued rotating in blithe indifference. Other education bloggers seem to be regularly name checked by Michael Gove or invited to meeting at the DfE, but not me. Altogether now… So imagine my [...]

Has lesson observation become the new Brain Gym?

2013-11-17T11:30:15+00:00November 16th, 2013|training|

I've thought a lot about lesson observation over the past couple of years and have come to the conclusion that it is broken. What is most worrying is that it is almost universally accepted as the best way to bother hold teachers accountable and to drive improvements in the quality of teaching and learning in a school. My contention is that these beliefs are, at least in the way the observations are currently enacted, wrong. Lesson observation distorts teaching, makes teachers focus on performance instead of learning and creates a system which is more interested in short term fluff than real [...]

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