Trying to take the temperature of how teaching and learning is going is no simple task. This is mainly because there are many proxies for learning and that learning takes place over long periods of time, rather than within observable, neat chunks. This post has come about after a conversation with my brilliant colleague Mark where he wondered how we could get rid of lesson observations all together.
Whilst the measurement of lesson performances has always been bonkers, there is a need to check the quality of what goes on around school so that senior teams can support and stretch teachers. Indeed, monitoring is important in order to support high quality teaching and learning. Personally, I think the main mistake made when looking in on lessons is that the observer focuses on the teacher rather than the student. This causes teachers to perform when someone drops in, when they should perhaps create moments where conversations with the young people can be had.
Anyway, here is a suggestion of what a learning look model could look like that could be adapted for a department or faculty level. This post isn’t going to discuss what constitutes good learning, just a mechanism for opening up conversations. By having a common focus and good communication it becomes easier to find out what is going on, all as part of an approach where staff and students are encouraged to behave in exactly the same way regardless of who is popping in. Finally, through visiting schools through local authority and Challenge Partners reviews, it’s vital that claims made by the Headteacher actually stack up in the classroom. For this to be the case, senior leaders should be in classrooms as much as possible, especially to see whether the practicalities of policy actually works.
This is a continuous cycle and linked in to CPD as this should be drip fed throughout the year and not reserved for INSET days. Here’s a little more about each section:
Monday morning SLT briefing
This is where the focus for the week ahead will be decided, using information and data from the previous week. I like the idea of a hypothesis to test. Perhaps:
- ‘Year 7 are being challenged well this term.’ Or,
- ‘Our behaviour for learning policy ensures that the classroom atmosphere is focused on teaching and learning.’ Or,
- ‘Feedback is manageable for teachers and enable PP students to articulate their next steps.’
- Speak to children.
- Look through their books and ask questions about the work and the feedback.
- Keep focused on the focus. Of course, if a major concern crops up it shouldn’t be ignored, but they are rare.
- Speak to other adults in the room.
- If I returned in four weeks, would Child A’s work be of the same quality as other students?
- What effect would targeted questions have on PP students?
- How is homework adapted?