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any teachers out there? Horrible lesson observation - help?!?

(4 Posts)
happynappies Wed 27-Nov-13 13:35:34

Yesterday I had one of my A Level lessons observed by a member of the management team, and I thought it had gone reasonably well. I haven't been observed for some time because I've been on maternity leave, so emailed the observer beforehand saying that I had all the usual documentation - scheme of work, lesson plan etc - but was there anything I should be aware of about the format of the observation, i.e had anything changed? I got an email back saying basically, no don't worry, just relax and teach. So I did.

It was an A Level class, and part of my plan was to spend the first part of the lesson feeding back on a mock exam the students had done the previous week. This was on my scheme of work and lesson plan, and it was not re-capping subject content, but was an activity I'd devised for the students to do in pairs, 'interviewing' each other using a prompt sheet designed to help them expand on their points of evaluation, as I'd found that I was making the same comment on their exam paper - good attempt at evaluation but you need to elaborate upon the point.

The observer thought the exercise was excellent - students engaged, all good, good use of q&a etc, but he said this was essentially a recapping exercise, so no wonder they were 'good' because they'd done the material before. I explained that I wasn't re-capping the topic information, but working on building skills, and that I'd been pleased with how this part of the lesson went, but he said that they were able students and I needed to get them to do more. I can't quite understand this, because I know the students and how much they struggle with it.

Then he came to his 'major concerns'. He spoke to a student initially who said positive things about his learning in my class - good resources, opportunities for independent learning, enjoyable etc. Then he talked to a student across the room who said he hated the subject and would be glad when the year was over and he wouldn't have to study it any more. In September I asked all students to share with me their reasons for choosing the course etc, and had a few students say they hated the subject but 'had to' carry on to A2 level or they wouldn't have enough grades for university. I realised what I was up against - and have been working on these students, some of whom had failed assignments, but progress has been made, and this one in particular got a reasonable grade in the exam last week. I had also been providing the particular student with extra work. I mentioned both of these things to the observer, but he said if someone says they hate the subject, they are not engaged. He said although my exercises were good - getting students to work in pairs was not 'dynamic enough' and I should have moved tables around and got more group work going on. Fair enough - I stuck to the methods that I found work with this class rather than trying to put on a show for the observer, so if I need to use different methods, I can accept that. But his main concern was that a student was texting on his mobile phone under the desk. I said that if I'd been aware of that, I'd have spoken to him about it. I showed the observer the ground rules I established in the first week about no phones in class, and said that I treat the students in an adult fashion (I work in an FE college), and expect them to follow the agreed rules. Obvious transgressions are dealt with, but I genuinely did not realise he was texting. I'm not sure what to make of this. When he told me that aspects of my lesson were 4, and that he couldn't give me more than a 3, I was astounded - I thought it was a good lesson, with good evidence of learning and active involvement of students. I feel shattered. I tried to hold it together while he continued with the feedback, came home, cried... then couldn't sleep, and now feel angry about it. Has anyone got any advice, or could you tell me how you would deal with this situation? I don't want to go in to work again (I work part-time) and seem like I can't take criticism, I would be happy to learn from constructive feedback, but I just feel this person didn't 'get' what I was trying to do, and made judgements on the basis of things that I don't quite understand.

TheTruffleHunter Wed 27-Nov-13 13:51:23

This happened recently to a friend and it turned out that Ofsted required them to 'identify & support' struggling teachers to improve the schools grading, and the genuinely struggling teachers were something of a lost cause. She was utterly devastated cos she also had thought it was a really good lesson and many of the concerns were questionable to say the least!

Might it be something like that? In this case my friend knew that the new deputy was driving the Ofsted stuff and was able to get the Head onside - in her case they were practically begging her to go full-time so clearly had no actual concerns about her teaching.

Best of luck to you, I can well imagine how upset & frustrated you must be.

Putthatbookdown Wed 27-Nov-13 14:06:50

This is so demoralising A manager walks in and judges you on one lesson Firstly this is a manager and they are paid to see that the organisations aims plans etc are fulfilled and this being education you can bet there is a lot of politics behind it To be honest they do not care a heck about how long you spent planning it etc they just have a management box to tick What really matters is not this one-off but how you have performed throughout the year Do you have an expereinced colleague that you can talk this through with ? Someone who can give another opinion and understands your point of view? You need to get this off your chest

happynappies Thu 28-Nov-13 11:28:26

Thank yo for your thoughts Truffle and Putthat... am still anxiously await the arrival of the final verdict - the rating and documentation which wasn't decided on the day. Will speak to my colleagues when I go in next week, but really quite worried that there is a hidden agenda - there is talk of redundancies at the end of the academic year, and as I have 100% attendance and no other 'issues' - this seems an obvious blot on my copy book, and have a feeling it could lead to massive problems. Am going to see what the observer has written, then try to put my perspective over to my line manager when he no doubt talks to me about my training needs.

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