Trainee Teachers - Is it helpful to watch a more experienced colleague teach?

(33 Posts)
deleted203 Thu 14-Feb-13 20:27:20

In light of a thread about teachers struggling and a couple of incidents at work I wondered if any trainees/NQTs actually found it helpful to observe someone else? I've frequently had people watching me, and I'm not sure how useful it is, TBH, as I suspect that I'm not much help with behaviour management (which is generally what they are having difficulty with). I've taught for a lot of years, and the problem is that if you are struggling with bottom set Y9 who are throwing pens around, calling out, chatting, refusing to stay in their seats then it's not much help to come watch me (where they will file in quietly and sit and work like angels).

We've got a couple of GTP students at the moment on placement who are really struggling with a couple of classes (y9 and y10) and both of them have come and watched me teach these same groups. Whilst I'm happy for them to do so I do wonder whether I am being any help at all - or if it's making things worse for them by seeing that these classes aren't any trouble at all for me. I suspect it's frustrating to sit and think 'Why doesn't she have to deal with the kind of behaviour that I do?' without being able to see what it is I'm doing to prevent it. Unless you watched me teach the class for the first time ever, you probably can't see how I've set out the expectations, stamped on anyone who raised their head immediately and made it totally clear that poor behaviour won't ever be tolerated and the consequences will not be worth dealing with. By this point in the year classes are well aware of my expectations and equally well aware that it would be a really, really bad idea to even think about kicking off.

I know my reputation with pupils is something along the lines of, 'Mrs So's a really good laugh - but you don't ever want to play her up, or she's really scary'. I've taught for over 20 years and am more than willing to offer constructive/helpful advice if I can - just wondering if these student teachers are going home feeling worse that they are struggling to cope when someone else isn't?

Dominodonkey Sun 17-Feb-13 13:52:12

I think watching teachers teach to help behaviour management only works if the teacher is a similar sort of person to the one observing or if they use lots of very clear behaviour management techniques.
When I was observing, one teacher used three or 4 really clear techniques (such as having a seating plan on the board and putting ticks next to students who were behaving) - that was useful to see. Another told me to watch her to improve my BM but she really just used the fact that she had a loud, strong personality to control the class.
I know it would be no use watching me for help on behaviour management as my classes are controlled through a mixture of raised voice, comedy and enthusiasm for my subject which shows in my leaping around the classroom. (I am at a school with very good behaviour) My current trainee actually keeps them far quieter than I do (but unfortunately not engaged)

blueemerald Sun 17-Feb-13 23:01:08

I'm a PGCE at the moment and we've all been advised to mainly observe NQTs or new teachers. It's only worth watching established teachers teach a new year 7 class between September and November really, then you see how routines and expectations are established.

deleted203 Sun 17-Feb-13 23:04:53

Thanks, blue. This is partly what I was thinking. It's very different to watching me teach a Y9 set I've had for 3 terms now. Naturally I'm not having to deal with the behaviour issues that a trainee teacher who has just taken them over is.

ProphetOfDoom Sun 17-Feb-13 23:18:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Knowsabitabouteducation Tue 19-Feb-13 13:23:01

I would have thought that it was essential for trainee teachers and NQTs to observe more experienced teachers.

blueemerald Sat 23-Feb-13 17:36:36

Watching experienced teachers is great if you want ideas for activities, assessment for learning etc etc but when it comes to behaviour an experienced teacher has access to resources new teachers don't have and can't get (reputation, experience etc).

PopMusic Sun 24-Feb-13 09:18:51

Whilst I agree experienced teachers have resources that new teachers don't have (reputation, history with students and sheer experience), it is always useful to observe teachers. There are always little nuggets to pick up and take away and put into your own teaching. I agree though that being able to have a conversation about it afterwards makes it doubly helpful. I love observing other teachers and I still try to do it now, even though I qualified a few years ago. When I was a student, my mentor at my last placement, became a friend. She finds mentoring students and nqts frustrating or rewarding depending how receptive they are. If they are willing to take on board her comments and suggestions, then she finds it rewarding but she says that quite a few students/nqts are inflexible, can't see how they can improve, don't take advice on board and generally not reflective about their teaching and this she finds enormously frustrating.

Phineyj Sun 24-Feb-13 13:39:34

I have recently qualified and the most useful thing for me in terms of getting students to behave, work well in groups etc was drawing on my previous experience in the workplace of trying to get annoying adults to do things. I felt there was over-emphasis in the training of learning by watching others. I was always told 'go and watch so and so because they're outstanding' but I found I learnt a lot more from teachers who were less experienced or even who weren't very good with their classes, because you could see the processes and where they weren't working.

Watching an expert is a problem because by definition they have expertise, and it looks easy. I am a musician (for fun, it's not my subject) and have learnt more from playing with other amateurs who are a little better than me, than from internationally famous players of my instrument -- who I watch thinking 'crikey how wonderful' but don't actually get any tips from iyswim. If anything it is depressing as I end up thinking 'I'll never play like that!'

However, I did find it useful to observe lessons where the person was an expert in my subject (even if they weren't brilliant at teaching technique) because I could learn about the subject and how to approach different topics, and get ideas of resources I could use.

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