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Teacher, techie, daddy, nerd. Often all at the same time. Teacher of Computer Science at @utcplymouth and #dev for various individuals.

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how to get a good to outstanding observation

How to Get a Good to Outstanding Observation

Published on 25th September 2017 by Simon


To teach is to inspire, to excite and inevitably, to learn. It's is also an extremely rewarding vocation, that is if you enjoy it, and if you're good at it. If you're in it for the money, you're in the wrong job. Teachers often go above and beyond to ensure that both their students, and their own professional development needs are being met which often ends in several evenings a week, working away to complete marking or planning

If the principle, a governor or, god forbid, an OFSTED inspector should come knocking, it is essential that you are on top of your game. There is a 'toolkit' that every teacher should be able to pluck out the sky either at a moments notice, or use on an almost hourly basis. If you are the latter, you are an outstanding practitioner. Here's what that toolkit is made up of;

Teaching & Learning

You need to be able to demonstrate that you are teaching and that your students are learning. Sounds silly, but if a low-ability student is unable to tell your walk-in visitors what they are doing now and why (and please be assured, your students will get interrogated), you're not going to make the cut. This also goes for appropriate and clear displays; go for bright literacy and numeracy content. OFSTED love that.

Behaviour

If you cannot keep an unruly group of students from shouting and swearing, right down to low-level and persistent disruption, you may want to think about an alternative career. Classroom management should be high on your list of priorities.

Health & Safety

Check your classroom for potential hazards. Cables and plugs, appropriate ventilation, fire safety equipment, PA testing, flooring. This list is not exhaustive but if there is anything that could cause an issue, reign it in (but not when your line manager is pottering around your room).

Demonstrate Leadership

Both you, support staff and your students need to show leadership throughout the observation. This can be in many forms however the most steadfast approach is using your 'lead learners' to support you in the classroom. Primarily, you are the leader of the room so assert yourself. Your support staff are there to support so use them for strategic placement or printing etc. Finally, you can use your students to be leaders themselves. This promotes confidence and a higher emotional intelligence in children and young people.

Use Your Lead Learners

Either high or low ability, these students have either shown a greater interest in, or have completed a majority of the work to a high level. Nominate these individuals to help those who may be struggling. In essence, students who need help will ask your lead learners first. This is a great show of classroom management on your behalf.

Become Data Literate

A students achievement is heavily influenced on their social and financial background. Gathering this data and using to differentiate will certainly earn you brownie points. Data carries a considerable weight in the classroom and every teacher should be using this information to their own and their students advantage.

Differentiate Your Seating Plan

Move your students out of their friendship groups right away. Differentiate by ability and place your lead learners strategically around the room. Leave an empty space near the front or by the door that can be used for behavioural or emotional readiness. These seating plans are a work in progress and will rarely be printed out. Place it in your teaching folder.

A Well Thought Out Teaching Folder

Gather all your groups photos, data and seating plans and place all in one folder. Incorporate school policies, student IT user agreements, fire and emergency strategies and your tutees timetables and you have an excellent resource that will become very tatty very quickly. Your teaching folder should be open at the appropriate place at every class and shows your classroom visitors that you are intrinsically aware of your students and their needs.

And that's pretty much it.

This is not a hard and fast list, nor is it exhaustive - you probably have your own strategies that work well for you so use them, and use them well. This toolkit is something that I have used in my own delivery which has enabled me to remain at that consistent 'good' (and occasionally) outstanding.