A follow-up workshop after observations

I’ve just found some old notes from a workshop we ran at our school after a round of lesson observations where we saw every teacher, and thought it might provide a useful model for somebody somewhere.

I started by summarising all of the positive points which came out of the observations – I think it was probably the third and final round of observations for the year. This was the list:

  • Clear effort and planning that had gone into the lessons
  • Huge progress through the year
  • Demonstrating an obvious response to feedback we had given
  • Points and routines used more consistently in young learner and teen classes
  • Anticipating problems and being able to deal with them efficiently
  • Varying lessons effectively
  • Demonstrating ideas the observers could steal (one of my favourite things about observing!)
  • Teachers knew their students and there were no surprises with students having trouble with what happened in the lessons
  • Teachers were challenging themselves, not just coasting with their teaching
  • Experimenting with ideas from workshops

We then had about 30-40 minutes left. Each member of the senior team was in charge of an area of development we’d noticed when observing. The four areas were:

  • Feedback
  • Getting attention and monitoring
  • Brain breaks/stirrers and settlers
  • The aim of activities/where is the learning happening

The teachers were free to spend as much or as little time as they wanted with each of us, to visit all of us or stay focussed on one area, to move around as they pleased and to participate as much or as little as they wanted to (side conversations were fine!). This gave the teachers autonomy within the session.

The final area on the list was mine. If I remember rightly I had a few of the course books we used at the school. Teachers chose a book, opened it at random, and had to decide what the aim of given activities/pages in the book were. They also had to decide what help or support they perhaps needed to add to make sure that learning would definitely happen if they used that activity. This was designed to help them think more deeply about what they could and should use from the course book, how it might or might not help the students, and what scaffolding they might need to provide.

What happens at your school after observations to build on observation feedback?

2 thoughts on “A follow-up workshop after observations

  1. Hi Sandy. Thanks so much for sharing this!

    I like the element of autonomy in the session you describe, as this allows for a very personalised and supportive session for each individual. In my experience, when teachers are given her chance to make decisions about their own development, this is so much more meaningful and memorable.

    We have a centre-review every two years, where all teachers are observed. What we see in lessons is shared with teachers- very much focusing on the positives- then we design an INSETT programme based on the needs of the teachers (we use other things to develop the INSETT programme, too, such as the needs teachers identify themselves and share with the L&D lead through surveys, the feedback during meetings with their line managers, feedback to training sessions, a ‘quality plan’ based on the centre’s business goals, etc.). So we create a dynamic and meaningful INSETT programme in response to both the teachers’ perceived needs, and what observers have seen in lessons.

    Teachers also get two observations a year, and this is part of a consistent observation cycle. As part of this cycle, teachers and their line manager discuss core teaching skills, using a concrete document which outlines what these are and how they look in lessons. This document is the basis for the pre and post observation meetings between the teacher and observer. After a post observation meeting- in which the teacher identifies (usually three) action points to work on, and the observer commits to supporting them with this- the teacher receives a detailed write up from the observer, and then they write a comment to summarise the discussion and write up.

    The observation cycle is captured on a digital platform, so this feeds in to mid and end of year meetings with the teacher’s line manager. The action points identified from an observation can also lead in to a set of ‘learning aims’, which a teacher sets at the start of every academic year.

    Sorry for the elaborate response, but as you know, teacher development is one of my passions 😂


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