What's the most useless piece of feedback you have received after a lesson observation?(94 Posts)
It's lesson observation time at our school, and everyone is getting anxious and comparing notes. I always promise myself I won't get worked up, but I always do .
To cheer myself up, and to remind myself that judgements can be a bit abitrary, I wondered if fellow teachers would share the most pointless feedback they have received. I would like to offer the following:
"Just do exactly what you are doing but better!" (said to a colleague who asked for specific strategies to move a lesson from good to outstanding)
"Why did you waste 10 minutes having them read the book aloud? Wouldn't it just be easier to show them the film?" (said to me, an English teacher).
And my personal nadir of feedback bollocks: "you achieved the objectives, the behaviour was excellent, they all made progress, but it just didn't feel right. So I'm grading it "requires improvement"...
Anyone got any more?
"You need to make sure that Joey Bloggs tucks his shirt in"
I should actually have been pleased that the observer couldn't think of much else to criticise at the time (years ago). Sadly, whatever we do will never be good enough.
Have just spent around 4 hours preparing for tomorrow's observation.
Wish me luck!
If you had played some mozart during their independent working time, I would have given you an outstanding. I love Mozart.
Hmm yes cheers boss, great advice.
"When your TA picked something up from the floor she should have stood up and squatted down rather than twisting round from her chair."
Yes, thank you for your concern for my TA's back but I really didn't need that as a written point for improvement on my (otherwise outstanding) observation.
Nothing like yours.
Had an ob today....use your TA properly! Big Ofsted thing atm.....
'teacher dressed inappropriately'
I was wearing black trousers a t shirt and smart jumper. I'd bent over to reach a pen a student had dropped and apparently the observer got a glimpse of the top of my knickers.
hope you squatted and didn't actually bend paperclips
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
I think if I got an obversation with any of these silly comments, I'd tell the observer where to get orffffff!
Don't walk around the room interacting with the students, set yourself up at the front, maybe with a little sign that says help desk. HOD then spends 5 minutes getting very into this idea and how he could make everyone a sign
Him: I think the lesson was probably good.
Me: ok what can I do to make it outstanding
Him: well umm not much really , maybe a little sign?
Both from my current HOD, who is mostly clueless. I had to point out he was using Ofsted criteria that was 3 years out of date. We are overdue an Ofsted, I supposedly work at an Outstanding school.
"Your voice isn't deep enough. It would be better if your voice were deeper.......like mine." Mentor from Hell.
I had an Outstanding once where the observer, who clearly felt the need to give me some advice, put, 'There is graffiti on the wall' as the only comment in the Areas to Develop box. I was teaching in six different classrooms that year and barely had time to GET to each room, let alone examine the walls.
The 'Little Sign' is my favourite so far.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
My personal favourite was when I was told that my room was too hot and I should open the windows. I just thought that if that was all they could think of to comment on I couldn't be doing much wrong!
Many years ago, three weeks into a move from Y2 to a Y6... 'Everything was perfect, and the children obviously made progress within your teaching, but they all understood the objective by the end of your teaching and could do the work set.' Thanks folks, obviously I should make the work impossible then, so they can't practice what they've just learnt - that or perhaps I shouldn't teach well enough for them to understand it in the first place?
'You know your problem? You've got NO confidence...'. My first head as an NQT. I resigned the next day and have never regretted it.
I'm astounded by some of the awful, and bloody ridiculous comments here. I've just had a crap lesson observation. My head said, 'Shall we just pretend that never happened, and I'll come back next week?'.
I love my school.
That my lesson was strong, behaviour was good and progress was made by the children.... but that I didn't 'sparkle'.
Observer worked for local County Hall and is now my own DD's headteacher - hope she 'sparkles' when covering classes.
Anyone expecting me to fucking 'sparkle' would be getting short shrift these days!
Not given to me but a close mate.
"Maybe you should wear a special hat to symbolise the start of the lesson?"
Er right. And spend fifty minutes wandering around looking like a tosser?
Dear Lord. How is it possible that ofsted just downgraded my school but there are numpties like your observers in other schools? Our leadership team would be furious if they read records like these!
I was once told that my classroom was too small. How very lax of me not to have built an extension. And another time I was advised to 'ask questions the students know the answers to'. You have to laugh.
'It's too sunny to teach Dracula.'
OK...next time I'll be sure to plan two different lessons and then teach the most weather appropriate one...
Judy - that's what I do if I observe a less good lesson. Seems v sensible to me, but is unusual.
Wtf re Dracula? Okay - that's my favourite now. I'm lost for words.
Does anyone ever get given the current criteria under which observations are going to be made BEFORE the lesson?
Yes, we got the current criteria.
Remus, I've been in my school three weeks and just love it. They have just got it all right. It had better be judged outstanding. Because it genuinely is. Not box tickingly so, really, properly outstanding (sob sob, over-emotional returnee from four years of mat-leave and SAHMing).
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
These are great. I actually don't know how teachers manage to keep their enthusiasm!
One of my colleagues got: 'Well, it was Good all the way, but you printed your differentiated homework sheets on different coloured paper, so I'm going with Outstanding overall.'
She was like this .
A colleague was once given a Satisfactory (when such things existed) because the autistic boy in his class refused to talk to a partner and did the work alone.
This is why all management and leadership should teach a class....including the head.
Such a great thread!
I'm on the other side and doing rounds of observations.
I saw a really outstanding lesson this week with one very difficult boy in it who was disengaged some of the time (but not at all disruptive). I was taking to the SIP about it in theory today and she said that that one student should have pulled the lesson down to good.
Bear in mind that SLT are under pressure to make 'correct' judements in the face of ^^ . We are judged too.
Judy I would do that too- I think your HT has been kind.
During my last observation a child manages to throw up over the deputy head, white board and me before I got the bin to her.
I got requires improvement cause child x made no progress in the last 15min- she was holding the bin throwing up non stop in to it!
Of course SLT are judged too (am SLT myself) but there's a difference between trying hard to get the balance right between commonsense/kindness and OFSTED style judgements, and the sheer bonkers-ness of some of the below
Sorry Judy I thought you were being sarcastic and now I see not.
The difference between a duff lesson taught by a good teacher and a duff teacher are generally dead obvious. I would ignore the prior.
The difference between a duff lesson taught by a good teacher and a duff teacher are generally dead obvious. Yes indeed! Well said.
An ofsted inspector circa 2005 actually said ( to very gorgeous French teacher )....im struggling to make a judgement as I was totally distracted by youe accent and your divine perfume.....wtf ?? She made a complaint. Ive struggled to take them seriously ever since tbh.
Suffolk, in my first school one of the teachers was tiny and the only way she could reach the board was to use the platform specially constructed for the purpose.... Who knows what would have happened had she been observed on the occasion that the kids stole it!
I teach a class of children with additional needs-a mix of a whole range of sen, ebd etc (fun but really hard!) in a mainstream school. My last obs was good with some outstanding features, my feedback was that what I was teaching was not 'age appropriate'- the fact that it was developmentally appropriate was beside the point. I felt like banging my head on the desk.
A friend once got "if you taught in an inner-city school you wouldn't have got away with that" (starting a lesson telling kids off for being late). We teach in a fairly placid rural school...
Lots of interesting comments, and some anecdotes. I'm in the position of both being observed, and observing lessons and it's horrifying how variable the quality of feedback can be. Our deputy head told me that he wants to make the process of observations more rigorous for the observer than for the observee, i.e. there should be more pressure to make a correct judgement and give meaningful feedback than there is on teacher being observed, and I agree.
Getstuffezd An SLT member at my old school once advised a colleague to have a variety of hats available, and to change hat to indicate a new activity, e.g. a "questioning" hat, and a "work independently " hat. The idea was that the teacher would not explain that the lesson was moving on, just change hat. In a Secondary school.
I was observed this week and got a good. When getting my feedback, I could see that practically everything was marked as outstanding but it was good overall because the 2 EAL students in the class had not made sufficient progress. This was a Yr11 GCSE Performing Arts class. The 2 EAL students in question only arrived in the country in April, and were put in my class because (in the words of SLT) they have to go somewhere and your class isn't full. There's no way they can achieve anything because all the assessment is based on practical work and they HAVE to perform in English, which they don't really speak.
I was once told during an observation by SMT that the sqeaking door to my classroom was a distraction to the students.
During an actual inspection the inspector went to the wrong room (only 6 classes in the school) and sat watching a music lesson for 20 minutes before realising he was in the wrong room - he then came and observed what was left of my science lesson - the main critisism was that he didn't see any evidence of an introduction to my lesson.
When I pointed out that if he had arrived on time he would have done he replied that as he hadnt seen it the comment would stand. So I was penalised for his ineptitude
My favourites are:
1) My HOD, ''I haven't got time to give you feedback but I was just thinking how pretty you'd be if you lost weight.''
2) Ofsted inspector on day 3 of inspecting our all-boys' school, 'So is X the only girl in this class then?'
Some of these are shocking.
Mine isn't quite as bad and I didn't get graded down because of it but the only criticism I had last year was that the classroom I was teaching in wasn't big enough for the amount of learners I had.
Please, I said, tell me something I don't know!!!!!
Shocking. If I was in doubt about going on strike, I am not now. If the unions only achieve their three observations a year point, that will be a victory.
I was told to stand at the other side of my IWB to teach as there was no unit there with a computer on to get in my way (unit is there due to plug sockets). When I explained that I could not do this due to the hand I write with I was asked why I could not use my other hand to write with!
I was observed last year during OFSTED by a subject specialist) rated as a 1.
When we had our department review I purposely engineered it so I could teach the exact same lesson (obviously changed to suit the learners, but the basis was the same) as I wanted to prove that the SLT did not know what they were doing - I was right! When I was getting my feedback of a lesson that needed improvement and I said that this was the lesson that OFSTED saw the look was one I wish I had taken a picture of!
Only piece of negative feedback from one particular observation: "You said OK rather a lot". Ok.
"The buttons in your button tin are boring." Hmm, how to break it to my Granny who had provided the buttons?
Dear god, these are horrifying. Ive occasionally contemplated going back into the classroom. This is enough to put me off forever.
The piece of information that has of course improved my teaching BEYOND BELIEF is "... needs to tie her hair back!"
Same HT also commented on my use of ICT (something that I have been picked up on as being partic strong in EVERY obs ever bar this one) despite not even being able to switch on the projector with a remote when covering my class.
Not obs feedback but the bit that stuck in my throat (& still does) is being told that I'd raised my game/ was lucky with a grade 1 lesson in an obs despite me teaching a lesson that was the same style/ type as I have done a number of times in a number of schools. Same HT AGAIN!!!
Unsurprisingly I left above school as did most of the staff whilst HT maintains they are perfect!!!
'Your lesson was satisfactory. I think.'
'What could I have done to improve it?' (This was in my NQT year).
-'I don't know'.
'Well that was pitched all wrong, you clearly don't know the children and I can't think of many redeeming features, to be honest. I'll have to fail you.'
That was day 2 of my PGCE. First time I'd ever stood in front of a class. I wasn't even supposed to be teaching so early on, but my 'mentor' teacher at that school used to loudly crow about his ability to 'break down students and build them back up.'
I never got built back up - not by him
I usually get Outstandings these days. That school is in special measures. Such a shame.
I also had dire PGCE observations (since then -outstanding) at a school that was meant to be fantastic. But the Head of English didn't know the term sibilance and my mentor taught the wrong text of Dr Faustus to his sixth form class. They wanted to fail me!
Yeah - you're stuffed if the observer has a vested interest in looking better than you - for example if they're not very good at obs themselves and only scraped satisfactory during Ofsted (and that only because the inspector didn't have the balls to fail SLT)
Oh heck...I'm doing my PGCE and have my first placement starting in November.
I'll probably be able to keep my mouth shut, (grinding away my teeth in the process), but the eyebrow has a mind of it's own when confronted with stupidity.
HOW do you all manage to stay calm??
I had feedback on a lesson once where my mentor talked to me about the fact that I had used 'they' instead of 'he/she,' as in 'A pupil will stand at the front of the class. They will do x/y/z.' I was a bit miffed at that as it was put down in black and white as 'must improve written grammar'
Observation 1: great relationship with the kids, everyone focused and learning, differentiation outstanding etc etc. "Good" because I didn't have enough 'pizzazz'. This was from a teacher who had failed a lesson that Ofsted had graded as Good.
Sorry - there is no "Observation 2". Not sure what I did there.
I was told that the Good with elements of Outstanding lesson (when Good meant 'Good,' not 'Alright, I suppose') could only go down as Satisfactory because, although I'd been over several times what we would be learning about and what I was looking for, I hadn't actually uttered the words "success criteria." To eight year olds.
Friend's daughter was told as a student that she couldn't have Outstanding because the class teacher didn't believe in giving Outstandings to students, otherwise they wouldn't have anything to work towards. When she asked what, therefore, she should work towards, the teacher said "I don't really know."
We watched a video if a lesson. We had to judge. A me member of SMT gave it a 1. OFSTED a 3.
I was told by an Ofsted inspector (ex secondary school geography teacher, sorry to all those out there!), that on NO account should children ever be made to work in groups of 3. Still not entirely sure why, there were no issues at all!
A friend was also told that her class of Y1/2's should have written about their "special place" (RE lesson) as "children of this age simply can't draw!" This was the same inspector!
My favourite was the comment that one of the student's did not speak in the class discussion. Err, that would be the student with the severe speech impediment (as flagged up in the context sheet with the lesson plan) the one who contributed to the class discussion via the chat room projected onto the whiteboard. Did he not notice the other students responding to the projected typed comments? Especially as that particular student was the best in the class (and one of the best students I ever taught) who the other students treated with respect and a little bit of awe?
I really wondered if he was paying any attention to the class at all.
I moved the tables during an observation once to do some roleplay, revealing a crisp packet which I quietly put in the bin. Was told the presence of the crisp packet meant the lesson was only a 3. Well, that and the fact the observer could not judge how well I had set the lesson objectives - because he was 10 minutes late
I got a Requires Improvement last year because 'You obviously weren't at all well & the students picked up on it - two of them were definitely off task.'
I did indeed have the galloping lurgy, had already been told by dh that I was a loon for going in & had (very briefly) considered ringing in sick - because it was Random Observation Day, & I knew I'd get a crap rating if chosen.
Under normal circumstances, if too ill really to be at work but not actually completely incapacitated, I'd stagger in, & dig out the trusty 'do a worksheet for the first half of the lesson & you'll get a video to watch for the second half, I'll just sit here & go "uuuuurrrrgh" from behind my tissue occasionally' lessons - every Scheme of Learning has one. I really don't do time off ill! So it seemed dishonest not to drag myself in as I normally would just because of a possible observation.
Sure enough, I was picked, so I attempted the all-singing, all-dancing lesson I'd planned a week previously; only I shambled through it like something off Night of the Living Dead. Don't actually remember much about teaching it tbh.
Best of all, it took 6 months before I got my feedback. Luckily, I'd had an Outstanding since then, as the policy is that two RIs means that a 'support programme' of additional observations gets put in place, since you're obviously shite...
I did take this up with the DepH who observed me, who said quite reasonably 'Well, it's not like I could have given you constructive criticism. It was a very well planned lesson, it's just that you clearly needed to be tucked up in bed rather than delivering it. I'd just have had to tell you to FFS ring in sick next time. & we're certainly not going to be encouraging staff to do that - the whole place would fall apart!'
So that was helpful .
From an inspector
My HT said that the properly typed up report would have more detail. It said
"Pretty good. Well done"
'The children were really excited during the activity. They created their own learning as well as working towards the learning objectives.'
This was a negative ... and I teach NURSERY!
The head didn't like that afterwards the children 'went off on a tangent' and started experimenting with the resources and learning about distance as well as size. Instead of sticking rigidly to the LO as 3 year olds obviously should
oh yes Little Machine, I am in EYFS and I share your pain. Ofsted chap who came to us just didn't get child initiated at all. Ten minutes before obs HT tells me I have to do Maths, instead of phonics as timetabled, 'and he wants to see you teaching. Cue bewildered 4 year olds sitting in groups for a Y1 lesson. That part got a good
Crazy ninah! I got a 3 for my exciting activity with independent learning
I'm yet to receive any targets, 6 months later. Despite it apparently being so crap.
I'm doing teacher training at the minute and had my first observation last week. One of the criticisms was that the classroom displays (done by the teacher, not me I might add!) didn't match my lesson.....
I have had to wait two weeks for feedback from my last two obs. When I've finally managed to corner the HT, the feedback given was "yeah it was good" and "all fine, no worries".
This is after being put on capability last year for an 'unsatisfactory' obs . (which came about because of serious mental health problems). Really helpful!!
We've got obs across the school in the next few weeks. When I made my appt with the HTs secretary, I also made one for later that afternoon and asked her to label it 'feedback session' in the diary.
I mainly get 1s and 2s these days but got 3s at my previous school (read prison). Once I got a 3 because I walked around the room too slow. I also got a 3 from on ofsted inspector who thought the work was too easy for 15 year olds - he clearly hadn't read the bit that said it was an SEN class - the number of statements should have been a giveaway (he also played on his phone the entire time).
Today I got feedback for being too nice - thanking pupils for things I should take for granted as is 'my classroom' and apologising if I make a mistake. I need to work on being less nice. Never mind about the fact that the person observing me has appalling discipline problems, and that when I took on this class from her they were feral - they are now calm, working, learning and progressing and being courteous to me and each other... No perfect, but generally well-behaved teenagers. Oh and the class of 28 has 8 SEN (BESD/SLC/ASD), 4 EAL and 12 PP.
My colleague got a 3 yesterday because some of the nursery children were playing side by side and not together.
Yes. Nursery children. For whom this is a normal stage of development.
'Your handwriting is very neat.' As a negative point. It was a teaching practice observation, back in the days when planning was handwritten, in my case, too neatly.
I have to say, I actually snorted at that.
How can handwriting being too neat possibly be a negative?!
Apparently it made it look as if my observations and planning were all written up in one go, as opposed to through the week. I was quite offended at the time, as this was far from the truth - I was just neat and loved y fountain pen. Wrote the next week's planning and assessments in an assortment of media, including pink crayon. Tutor saw it and said, 'Well done! This is a significant improvement.'
Funnily enough, a tutor at sixth form had a go at me for neat handwriting too, but she was just very strange. Same woman once berated me in front of the class for, '...thinking I could submit an A-level standard of essay,' and she, 'hoped no one else was thinking this would be acceptable.'
That course was at GCSE level. The woman was incensed...and a little odd. Part of me would love to see her now and reassure her that my handwriting has gone downhill in the intervening years.
Oh I've had the one about neatness!
My planning is on Excel spreadsheet, as per SLG 'good practice' examples.
I don't actually mind - it probably doesn't make me teach any better, but I quite enjoy a bit of nerdy Excel-tweaking & so my planner sheets now look lovely.
I update them all in my free period on Friday afternoon, for the week just gone, & cut'n'paste as much of the next week as I can predict from our Departmental medium term plans.
It's a completely useless free anyway, period 6 on a Friday; I'm always too tired to do anything genuinely productive, so I may as well make my planning look pretty.
I then use 'insert comment' for any subsequent annotations through the week eg. 'Freddy absent, arrange to complete CA with 11B Monday p.3' or 'additional speech marks HW set, uploaded to VLE <pathway>' or 'L4 kids need differentiated article, find & email to <LSA> by Thurs'.
SLG have told me that my planning's great, but can I print it off & write the annotations on by hand? Otherwise - like GeorgianMumto5 - I risk it looking as if I've written it all up in one go.
I've bought a pack of different coloured gel pens to scrawl with .
Your children are too well behaved!
OK, perhaps I should organise a small riot in the corner of the room for the next time
"Could you reduce the smell in the room?"
Um, no. Not unless I personally purchased all the teenagers who need it anti-perspirent and plonked plug-ins into every socket. Or moved the classroom so it wasn't in the middle of the suns' glare all day throughout June.
Colleague was recently given a good but told as a criticism that the lesson 'wouldn't have worked with a different class'.
Where's the two way process for this ridiculous process!? We should be able to state how happy we are with the observations-how helpful the comments are etc and they should be judged when they'd said stupid things!!
An assistant head observed me a couple of weeks ago. He told me that I should have used a capital letter after a colon. Idiot.
I once got criticised for neatness too, when I used the same pen in my planner and was accused of planning in retrospect. Sigh.
These people are actually paid large sums of money for saying such banal and unhelpful things-it's ridiculous!
We recently had OFSTED in and I was observed teaching an A Level ICT class that happens to be all boys although school is mixed. When I went in for my feedback I was told that the lesson was judged as good but what stopped it from being outstanding was that the inspector couldn't understand why the class was "one female teacher teaching a group that is all boys"
What did the observer want, Pink , a chorus line of female teachers, do you think?
I was told my pencils in the pencil pots weren't sharp enough
I'm not a teacher and this is making me cross.
I don't want demoralised teachers who are fed up of petty shite teaching my kids.
From my GTP observation 'you are too enthusiastic'.
I was once told I couldn't have outstanding for meeting individuals needs because my statemented child (despite having peer support and a slightly differentiated task she could access and still achieve the lo) didn't have a ta. This was by the head - who decided my class didn't need a ta - ever - despite nearly 50% SEN, said statement and at the beginning of the year - big behavior problems.
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