Observations can be a nerve wracking thing particularly when it is assigned or linked to the agenda of Ofsted, a judgement of teacher planning and delivery when attached to performance related pay. Observations conducted fairly can be a good and supportive way of ensuring standards are met. To identify areas of good practice that can be shared and to support in areas that may require further development or intervention. This is good in any means for reflective teaching and to improve ways to become more effective in terms of knowledge use and resources for teaching and learning particularly in Art and Design sector. This is important for good delivery and ongoing development for the teacher that may also be practitioner within the field of the subject taught. Keeping the teacher up to date and abreast with their practice.
My experience of lesson observations in the past have often been formal and in many cases either attached to an inspection such as an Ofsted or related to performance and targets. Schools and Further education colleges require that you teach a lesson as part of the interview process. HE doesn’t have that regulation. One could argue that results from NSS reports are the closest in terms to student experience in the classroom. Therefore, observations in HE is not so stringent, however the principles of ensuring good practice remains the same.
I find it beneficial to both observe and be observed by a range of people. I tend to reflect on my lessons taught to identify if what went well, had the intended learning been met? How have the student’s response been to the lesson or subject?
Peer to Peer observations are good for informal practice towards any observations that are attached to a form of Judgement. It allows staff to share their practice and can help with peer-to-peer learning for continuing professional development. Encourages reflective practice. This is a good method for staff to provide feedback to their peers as well as learning from each other teaching styles. Here are just a few examples of sharing good teaching and learning methods amongst higher education teaching staff.
- Helps to be aware and identify subject knowledge and pedagogy use of in the teaching that reflection can be enhanced.
- Areas for development’s can be pinpointed and addressed by professional development training.
- Peer to peer observations can lead to team teaching for enhanced learning experience by the students.
- To develop new ideas and creative approaches by reflecting on any particular needs for a better student experience.
- To apply a consistent element of teaching and learning within a department.
To share ideas and experience particularly with new members of staff that may have some fresh ideas but also require the experience of understanding criteria and strategies within the teaching and learning. Likewise, for those that have been in the teaching bubble for while also benefit to see other methods and teaching styles. This is good practice within a department to review each other’s teaching methods. It’s often refreshing teaching styles particularly within different subject area.
When preparing for lesson observation I ensure that there are certain things to be done to meet safeguarding, health and safety regulations. Lesson observations are there to maintain that all guidelines are being met and that there is quality teaching for the students. Regardless of being observed, I maintain to have a class register. Data referring to the students may not be possible within HE however, I can generate own character reference based on attendance, punctuality student outcomes, tutorials. This was a specific stored bearing in mind confidentiality and a new regulations data storage. I usually spend the first term of knowing the students making a learner profile register based on what I’ve learned from them for example being aware of any special educational needs that they may have disclosed and supported by disability services and the course leader. Such information is to be treated in confidence but there for me to support the students with their learning and attainment. Observation lessons are also reminders to ensure that I have the following:
- A lesson plan that evidences differentiation to meet the individual needs of learners that I pass on to the observer.
- A scheme of work relating to the course being observed.
- Copies of any supporting materials and worksheets related to the session.
- Documentation of students’ progress tracking of grades are kept on file for reference.
Ensure that I have a lesson plan that’s in line with the scheme of work and demonstrates higher order thinking. I tend to prepare a PowerPoint that outlines the intended learning outcomes leaving an area assessment this could be a worksheets formative discussion I plan aims of what I want the students to achieve the lesson.
Being observed the delivery my lesson outcomes to ensure that students are making good progress and that I have set a good pace.
- Lesson plan and where it fits into the scheme of work. Learning environment and that suitable for its intended use.
- A scheme of work that includes course aims and objectives along with teaching and learning activities.
- Inclusive teaching and learning strategies all student needs are supported.
- Pace and structure for learning. Identification and support of individual learning. Differentiated lesson tasks.
Peer to Peer observations are good for informal practice towards any observations that are attached to a form of Judgement. staff feedback as well as learning from each other teaching styles. It’s often refreshing to observe varied learning and teaching styles within same subject area.