[NOTE: THIS POST WAS WRITTEN BEFORE THE NEW OFSTED FRAMEWORK.
I felt it was too personal to be published at the time but now... Well I am investigating ways in which lesson observations are conducted in schools and looking at a range of lesson observation templates, most of which are just as complicated as our one - but I sure hope it won't be for much longer.]
Just a few observations on my inability to think straight when I am planning for an observation and leaving my instincts in the cupboard during the actual obs.
Now I have the good luck to have achieved several "Os" in recent lesson observations, but it always feels like luck rather than anything else. I do get that warm feeling when a lesson goes well and you feel on top of the world, but I don't think it's happened whilst I've been observed. I just get too nervous. There is too much to prove; there are so many expectations... I even start taking pills a few days before a planned obs to remain calm.
Anyway, thinking back about that year 9 lesson, it was actually going very well; despite my initial struggle to calm my nerves (one of the colleagues I admire the most, a fantastic teacher and friend - and also now SLT- was observing me for the first time), the kids were great and coming up with many super ideas and comments to the point that I actually forgot I was being observed for a bit.
So why oh why did I suddenly panic again at the end? I can still hear myself say to the students that we now had to move on!!! They were still engrossed in their task. Anyway, it wasn't a disaster but somehow I had it in my head that reaching the last activity would be the best way to demonstrate outstanding learning...
And why do I think so stupidly when observation time comes?
The weight of expectations - yes. But also the lesson observation template itself and all that talk of demonstrating outstanding progress within one lesson. The dreadful checklist, the plethora of criteria, the 'recommended' teaching style, the awful vocabulary....
I think it has genuinely confused me more than anything over the last 2 years and made me second guess myself on too many occasions. The more I read the Ofsted criteria, the more I loathe the whole process, the more nervous I get, the more useless I feel.
I also hate the fact that it is used as a checklist, a genuine Ofsted checklist. I wish we were free from so much jargon and went back to a much more straightforward format which would feel much more formative and supportive.
Anyway... lesson learnt - Avoid the extra "squeezed-in" activity that you would never dream of doing in a "real" lesson and just hide the lesson plan at the bottom of the drawer as the lesson starts... That and the pills...