Peer observation is often well established in schools, but often the culture is not truly developmental. If colleagues do not welcome peer observation, it means that
- they don’t see it as a valuable process;
- they often don’t feel free to innovate and take risks in their practice during an observation; and
- they feel threatened and the lesson becomes an unrepresentative lesson from which limited learning can be taken.
To build a welcoming culture of peer observation
- ensure that leaders model best practice around professional learning and take part in the process themselves;
- ensure that the observation is focussed on pupils and on some pedagogical learning, rather than judging the teacher themselves; and
- emphasise the learning and developmental nature of observation, including taking the learning from things that don’t work in the way that was expected.
You can find out more about using peer observation through collaborative enquiry and Lesson Study elsewhere on the Portal.
Lesson observation without grades
The Teacher Development Trust, has engaged extensively in the debate on effective Lesson Observation. Harsh grading and formalised rigour can be demotivating, while there are many other ways which can be effective. The links below are excellent starting points for thinking over how Lesson Observation can be a force for good rather than dread.
Beyond Lesson Observation – Mary Myatt (lead inspector for Ofsted, adviser, writer and trainer) shares her four suggestions for schools to create evidence which is robust, fair and does not rely on individual lesson observation grades.
O’Leary, M. (2012) ‘Time to turn worthless lesson observation into a powerful tool for improving teaching and learning’ InTuition p.16
TDT Network Conference – Video
In February 2014, TDT Network hosted a conference at King Edward VI Grammar School on Leading Practice in Lesson Observation. Throughout the day, some key figures shared thoughts on their vision for effective lesson observations without grading.
David Didau “What is we stopped grading lessons?”
Liam Collins “How do you effectively monitor T&L without grading lessons?”
Tom Sherrington and Alan Cocker
TDT/Teach First event on Lesson Observation
Watch: Professor Rob Coe discussing the research around lesson observations
His accompanying blog is here.
Evaluating Performance Reviewers
John Tomsett, headteacher of Huntington School (a TDT Network member) wrote this detailed blog on culture and leadership and schools. He included a resource on how to evaluate Performance Development Reviewers that has been introduced to Huntington that looks at a 360° approach.