Great news! Education Secretary Damian Hinds has pledged to strip away workload that doesn’t add value in the classroom and give teachers the time to focus on teaching. Naturally this will link with what Ofsted expects to see during an inspection of your lesson observation process.
This certainly makes sense and the aim is that it will lead to increased teacher recruitment and retention as well as learner attainment. The same principle applies equally to FE staff.
But I don’t think it is the ultimate solution. Whilst reducing their workload is important so is the support and training they are given to carryout their role. As is the need to feel a valued member of the team
Likewise, the monitoring of teaching and learning must add value to the learning process and result in an improvement in staff performance. Stripping away those aspects that do not add value to the classroom whilst being a motivating important tool in staff development. Too often this is not the case and the potential value of the observation process is not fulfilled because it is a drastic drain on valuable time and a huge administration burden.
So, if your lesson observation process is not:
- Adding value to the classroom
- Supporting your staff
- Improving staff performance
- Admin and time manageable
then you might want to consider doing the following:
- Are staff being observed asked their view on the observation process i.e. What do they get out of it, do they see it as a threat or a support?
- Are you using Ofsted terminology to grade observations? This can sometimes be very demotivational. Why not use ‘outcomes’ and more meaningful less contentious terms e.g. some support required, good, excellent
- Do outcomes made in observation focus on teaching and learning?
- Do observers have experience in observing and giving feedback? Plus, do they have the relevant background information of the class prior to observing?
- Do observees fully understand the reasons for carrying out observations and understand that the feedback following it is a two-way process and their opportunity to say how things went, what they did and why, what they might do different next time and any support they would like?
- After an observation is enough time given to giving feedback?
- Can you be sure all Areas for development/Action Points are followed up?
- Are you producing timely and relevant data in order to identify your staff’s strengths and weaknesses, the quality of teaching and learning throughout your organisation and the impact of remedial actions taken?
- Is Good Practice readily available to share throughout your organisation?
- Do you need to use a system that drastically reduces the need for paper recording and numerous spreadsheets? Where observations are carried out online and the information automatically updates an individual’s record and group reports. Plus staff automatically receive an email to remind them an action date is due?
- Are your staff taking ownership of their own development?
Useful information: Click here for a 3 month free trial of the Observation Manager software
Useful overview ‘Reducing Teacher Workload’ poster