Evolving teaching and learning: how should the art form of teaching be ‘measured’?
Brunel Teaching Year 1 | Ofsted Readiness
In my first year as an Assistant Principal, I have been on a real journey; leading on teaching and learning is an amazing opportunity and this blog highlights my key thoughts and how they are (sometimes rapidly) changing.
Within the last academic year, I was fortunate to be part of a team that was moving teaching and learning forward from 46% Good and Outstanding teaching in term 2 to 71% by term 6. This ‘leap’ in progress was achieved by an unswerving focus on teaching and learning across the year. Staff went from having perhaps one/ two noticed observations, without being given a grade to having one observation per term, at least one of which being no notice. Grades were given. The bar was raised. Progress was essential.
Giving ‘grades’ on 25 minute observations can only be a useful tool when feedback is precise and useful; our lesson observation form was lifted from the Ofsted criteria. Detail was essential as clarity around what makes a Good lesson was needed; staff confidence in recognising grades was low and needed to be improved. The lesson observation form established went some way in doing this:
Lesson_Planning_and_Feedback_Form Version 1
The ‘Ofsted speak’ boxes were useful in outlining key pedagogy but, how to make it our own was still a concern- staff needed to be familiar with this criteria. As such, all staff were involved in joint observations using this criteria in the first two terms; by Christmas, we had a wealth of data which was throwing up some common ‘missed opportunities’ within our lessons. This could then shape the whole school CPD for teaching staff; we have an hour once a fortnight to develop our own skills in teaching and learning; as a leader of teaching and learning, this was a gift; we didn’t drift from one INSET day to another without discussing our professional pedagogy. Non negotiables were established; these went with our, very prescriptive, lesson observation criteria, to make each skill easier to demonstrate in a 25 minute lesson observation.
Through CPD, teaching staff created their own Best Practice cards for each ‘section’ of our non negotiables. Talking about teaching and learning was becoming more uniform; everyone began using the common language, for example, ‘green pen time’ for getting students to reflect on teacher marking. Curriculum Leaders moved their teams forward; week long subject reviews were held so that Curriculum Leaders could share their knowledge about teaching and learning in their subject areas with SLT. Confidence improved and teaching and learning was spoken about. This led to some tentative re-phrasing of the Ofsted style criteria:
The bar was raised. 61% of staff were teaching Good lessons. The ‘formula’ was working.
Impressive? Hell, yes! The end of the journey? Absolutely not- more like the beginning!
Although 61% of staff were teaching good lessons, only 10% of staff were teaching the elusive outstanding. It felt like an unreachable holy grail; it felt like nothing was ever enough. In 25 minutes, how can you possibly demonstrate the 17 non negotiables without doing everything so superficially that true learning just cannot happen?
Interestingly, our summer results did not reflect our journey in teaching and learning; rather than an upward trajectory, results weren’t moving. Surely, good teaching should lead to good ‘learning’ or progress?