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Need help with observation!

(18 Posts)
phlebasconsidered Fri 28-Feb-14 17:46:13

I have had my new class for one week.
I am being observed Monday.
My problems are these: they get out of their chairs, they ALL shout out, they are untidy in their books, don't listen and I have 3 SEN children with very specific needs that are level wa and 1a / b in Literacy.

This week i've focused on behaviour, and they can manage to surpress the worst until about 25 minutes in, when they implode through the effort.
I am being observed in English, where the lo will be to identify the features of a newspaper report prior to writing their own at the end of the week.
My real problem is that I can't do anything whizz bang because they just can't cope. Team or group work is out as they fight, squabble, wander, and the noise level goes through the roof. So I was thinking of doing a starter getting the children to describe the features of a newspaper front page to me as if i were a blindfold alien, ( ie: large print words at the top etc) and use this to ascertain what they might know, and introduce the concept, then move onto newspaper feature bingo, with the features on a bingo card, wordbanks for the core, descriptions for the support and extra features for the extension, and get them to identify and annotate differentiated newspaper articles. We could then return to the original starter and see if they can describe the features to me more clearly. The next lesson will be on speech, reported and direct, so I can end with a teaser on that.

I'm thinking this is easily differentiated without too much choice about moving, talking, etc, and I can go over to each child and quickly see if they've picked up the features, so I can assess as I go.

What do you think?

manyhands Fri 28-Feb-14 19:14:47

Have you got a TA, could they take your SEN out during the starter to explain the meaning of the features you will be referring to in a fun way. That would help them asccess the rest of the lesson. I really struggle with observations.

phlebasconsidered Fri 28-Feb-14 20:39:00

I do have a TA, but they are tied up with the SEN. I am thinking I can get her to take them out plus the lower support, re-iterate the features, and they can post-it note their names onto a blown up article with a label of the feature. I struggle, because a) i'm new to the class and b) they are SUCH a large range of ability that I have to differentiate 4 ways.

Plus, they only got me last week! There's no way i'm passing this. At all. My TA has said they are improving, she's noticed, but they're going to be awful for weeks yet. I think they really need simple lessons with questions and answers. I did a history lesson like that and they loved it. Old school, in chairs, challenge questions. They behaved and they got stuff down. If we do anything remotely active they lose it. We did circuits this week and they were SO noisy. All over, wandering, they can't behave in groups. BUT: they did get it down in books and rise to the challenge i wrote up for them. But the behaviour alone would mean RI for me.

I don't know, I only got them last week, they've had two teachers since Sept. I wasn't expecting this, this early.

rollonthesummer Fri 28-Feb-14 21:22:31

Which year group?

PuppyMummy Fri 28-Feb-14 21:43:28

dont do the same activity with them all. divide them up by level and give each group (I think you mentioned 4 main ability groups) something different, appropriate to their level.

Make sure you show progress.

phlebasconsidered Fri 28-Feb-14 22:18:19

Year 5. I'm hoping that one activity, heavily differentiated, will do it. It's hard because some of the 3's are actually 2's and so on.
I would hope that if I diff. the text and what they'd have to locate as features ( plus extra for HA), it would be enough. So, Support go off with my ta and complete a task to identify so many, C and UC identify their selection and i push EXT to go further. It's the SHOWING progress that floors me. So if our main task is identifying ( graduated) features, is it showing enough progress if they annotate the texts and bingo mats? Or do I need more? For me, that would be enough,because tues i'll be doing something that will build, but for an obs, not so sure.

rollonthesummer Fri 28-Feb-14 22:36:19

Is it new learning? That's what our SMT are big on. Start off with 'nobody knows how to do this, do they?!' and end with-'wehay now you can-what a good teacher I am!' Tongue in cheek, obviously!

Throw in peer assessment, self assessment, success criteria, mini plenaries and higher order questioning and you're away!

Smartiepants79 Fri 28-Feb-14 22:43:02

Recently been on training, here are a few thoughts.
Make sure your learning objective is specific and focuses on what skills they are learning rather than what task they will have completed. What do you want them to be better at?
Showing progress is important. We were told one of the big questions from Ofsted at the moment is who has made progress in this lesson? Who hasn't? You need to try and know the answer to this for as many of the class as possible.
Tasks sound pretty good to me. Just think how your starter and plenary can involve as many kids as possible.
Showing progress can be as simple as answering a question.
Be prepared to be flexible, maybe have a back up in case they're not getting it.
Get your TA fully on board. Make sure she knows what your looking for. What questions to ask. Can you do a simple sheet for her to make notes of things the kids say to show understanding/progress?
Think it is downright mean to be observing you so soon?
Who is doing the observation?

phlebasconsidered Fri 28-Feb-14 22:48:37

( holds head in hands) ARRRGH! I've had them one week! I went in over half term to look at books and i'm still finding out where they are as opposed to where they're meant to be. I can't tell what is new learning as they haven't been following the plans, and the last week tells me the last half term was a wash out.

I admit I am struggling with the lower level diff. Wa to 2c is not my forte. 2b- 3c, 3b-3a, 4c-4b are what i've roughd them into. wa-2c is vast though! Esp for Yr 5. I don't see how I can devise anything remotely like for them, which means I lose my TA. When she is (could be) fantastic for 2a/ 3c students.

I suppose I am thinking: after a week: really!?

phlebasconsidered Fri 28-Feb-14 23:05:13

Thanks smartie that is useful. Obs is SMT and a guy from the LEA ( evn though we are SM and going in academy). I am most concerned that, taking on a new class, this week and next week, and the week after are going to be massively different. They are "naughty" now. But in 3 weeks, I would hope they would not be. It doesn't happen overnight.

My TA is fab. She is very capable and keeps notes for me. She is off to Cambridge to do teacher training soon. Anything I tell her to do she can do. I just wonder how to deploy her. She has always been used for support, but actaully she is great for lower core. I just can't do that for an ob. Because that will leave me with the SEN without help, and they are so in need that can't happen.

Smartiepants79 Fri 28-Feb-14 23:08:18

Year 5's with such low levels really should be getting more support.
Sounds like they've had a rough ride so far.
They sound like they're luck to have you.
Are you new to the school or just moved around? Is it an 'in house' observation? If so I'd be trying to use the feedback time as an opportunity to express my concerns about the issues with this class.
What do they really expect to see after one week. They must be aware there are problems in the class. Two teachers since September is good for no one.

Smartiepants79 Fri 28-Feb-14 23:10:27

I hope your SMT is on your side.
Why in the hell would they pick a class with a brand new teacher to observe. Ridiculous.

manyhands Sat 01-Mar-14 07:43:30

Do you have a class computer, is there a BBC task on the features of newspaper article which they can do? There tasks are very self explanatory, you'd be using ICT and they'd be good stuck in front of a screen!

PuppyMummy Sat 01-Mar-14 07:58:47

the easiest way to show progress is to do something in your starter that shows they dont know much (can be as simple as a spider diag on a mini whiteboard) then stop part way thru and question them or get them to add to their spider diag to show they hav learnt a bit more then hav something in your plenary to show they hav learnt lots more things.

make sure they understand what progress means. I am secondary but hav a very low level group (lvl 1 to 4) I explain it to them by saying 'showing progress means being able to say what we hav learnt today if someone asks us'

Also dont forget that with the weakest groups its actually easy to show progress because they probably dont know much to start with but if you get your task right by the end they can actually have learnt a lot!

PatTheHammer Sat 01-Mar-14 08:05:21

Hi I'm secondary not primary but my colleague is a trained ofsted inspector so i'm always picking his brains about observation stuff.

Firstly, provide the inspector with information about the class that you know. Hopefully by outlining the background (eg you are still trying to lay the groundwork for good discipline) they will be understanding if what you are trying to achieve.
Then before the obs just try and consolidate simple sanctions for pupils being 'out of seat' when you have requested 'in seat' work, or something like that. Do you have some sort of chart where their names get moved or something....sorry, experience of primary discipline limited to what my own child has in Y3!
Do the school potentially have a spare TA or somebody who could work with the SEN group just for this activity then you could show that you were hot on correct deployment of support staff? You would show that you had felt your own TA would be better with the lower/medium ability kids so therefore asked for extra support.
Lastly, keep the 'showing progress' thing simple. Lots of teachers get hung up on this and it is a myth about this 'all pupils must show progress in 20 minutes' etc...ofsted inspectors cannot mark down a lesson on this as it has to be specific to task and learning outcome etc. like a previous poster has said just ensure there are some mini plenaries, maybe some traffic lighting type thing or getting the pupils to have a peer discussion about their work, what they have learnt.

The tasks sound well organised by the way. I would be seething that you have been put in this situation and I would expect the school to be helping you any way they can.

PatTheHammer Sat 01-Mar-14 08:06:23

Cross posted with puppy about showing progress....agree, keep it simple and easy for them.

fatcheeks1 Sat 01-Mar-14 08:09:49

Hi, I just wanted to say I fully empathise.I was observed by my HT on the 1st day (1st thing) taking over a class suddenly.I was meant to be having a 2 week handover but the CT went off sick.I got an RI.It was harsh, like you I had little to work on, I couldn't even find their books, the children weren't even sure what books to work in! I am in reception.They should make allowances but they probably won't.Our school sounds very similar to yours but we are not becoming an Academy.This is such a stressful situation for you to be in, you can only try your best which I'm sure you will be.It sounds like you are really trying to differentiate but it's the getting on top of the behaviours isn't it.My class is a bit like that, you do anything fun and they just take it too far, as in clapping , cheering, screaming even if they get the chance and jumping up! I have a couple that can get very silly very quickly.I have had my class 5 weeks now and am still working on behaviours, things don't get fixed over night but SMT expect you to fix everything straight away.
You never know, the LA person might be more sympathetic.When I was observed by an LA person at my last school (also had reception) he was fantastic.He was really into the activities I had provided and seemed to recognise the hard work I had put into my planning.He observed me along with the schools ICT co-ordinator and I got my 1st good but he said it would have been an outstanding if I had left my group to go and extend the highers! Laughably this would have been my natural thing to do but after 2 obs from SMT where I got an RI and was told to stick with my group and not get up. . . . I couldn't even explain why I didn't get up because the ICT person was there but I think he knew.He should be aware of the class history up to you going in there and obviously you will be doing your best to make sure new learning and progress takes place.At least you have a very able and supportive TA.
I think just try to plan for things possibly going wrong/not to plan/not being understood and have extensions for early finishers.That was something that was picked up on from my good obs.
Keep your carpet times short, don't be afraid to explain your expectations for behaviour , you have to.I know you will be thinking they should know, they are yr 5, the observers will think they should know but they don't .You are their 3rd teacher and it sounds like they have had an unsettled time.I had to with my LA observation, I kept it short, I explained why I had to do it, they were fine with it, they liked the consistency, they thought I had high expectations which I conveyed to the class. Be vocal with your praise, show that you are aware of what is going on.You probably will be but verbalise it.I made this mistake in one of my RI observations.The TA had taken a group out, I was with a group and another group was off task.The HT was close to interjecting and I said just in time what I wanted them to be doing and why.The HT said in his feedback that after I had sent them off to work I could have done a mini explanation with one or two groups to keep the carpet time short and to really check that they knew what they should be doing.He said for them to listen to 4 different lots of instructions was hard and they would be going off to work independently not sure of what was expected of them but this was 5 yr olds and I was so out of my comfort zone.I planned to how I thought they would want to see my lesson not for how I thought it should really be/the needs of my class and it went miserably wrong as a result.The SMT didn't understand Early years and were expecting to see x, y, z and I tried to give them that without standing my ground and explaining myself.Plus, my class couldn't cope with being in groups and working independently so even though it was March and they had been together as a class for 5 months I was never going to get a good with the criteria they were using, plus it was a writing focus.The obs I got a good/borderline outstanding in was a maths, more practical one.For the 1st obs I crumbled and listened to outside advice and didn't go with my gut with the 2nd I was more confident and it was all my own planning.
What I'm trying to say is , you need to feel happy with your plans.
I would also say make sure you have everything ready in plenty of time.I have made that mistake in the past, been reliant on a colour copier and their hasn't been any ink (I don't have a printer at home)or wanted to use a YouTube link and haven't been able to access it even though it worked on every occasion prior to that!
If it is new learning, say it, if not refer back to prior work and explain how you will be building on that.I think they like the use of questions, we do lots of Insets on questions, snowballing is it where you bounce around an idea and it gets bigger and you scaffold and then pounce with a biggie? Sorry, I'm normally so tired and hot by the time Inset comes round.
Sorry this is so long, come back and tell us how it went or if there is anything else we can help with.

phlebasconsidered Sat 01-Mar-14 11:31:41

Thanks so much everyone!
I've done a grid for the LA so the TA can write down their learning for me, and they've got mini postits so they can name the features and show which ones they know.

I really am still unsure as to how far my Ext group can go, so I will have another extension task on hand just in case, they can start thinking about reported / direct speech if they "get" it.

So many good points, thanks everyone! I am being positive, it's all there to help me get on top of the class, as they are fully aware of how difficult they are, so i'm trying not to be negative about probably getting a RI! I can't see how it can possibly be otherwise given the behaviour angle of some of them. I'll keep you posted!

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