What if we stopped grading lessons?


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A presentation on the perils and pitfalls of lesson observation for the National Teacher Enquiry Network Conference 7th February 2014

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  • Learning occurs but performance in the short term doesn’t improve, or…Performance improves, but little learning seems to happen in the long term.
  • What if we stopped grading lessons?

    1. 1. Why observe lessons? • To check teachers are doing the ‘right’ things? • To check that students are safe and happy? • To improve the quality of teaching & learning?
    2. 2. Improving teaching & learning • Is there a preferred teaching style? • Progressive vs traditionalist • What is ‘learning’?
    3. 3. Performance Learning
    4. 4. Separating learning from performance Performance is measurable but learning must be inferred from performance: it cannot be observed directly. Robert A Bjork
    5. 5. ‘Poor proxies’ for learning • Students are busy: lots of work is done (especially written work) • Students are engaged, interested, motivated • Students are getting attention: feedback, explanations • Classroom is ordered, calm, under control • Curriculum has been ‘covered’ (i.e. presented to students in some form) • (At least some) students have supplied correct answers (whether or not they really understood them or could reproduce them independently) Robert Coe, Improving Education: a triumph of hope over experience
    6. 6. The MET Project • If a lesson is given a top grade, there’s a 78% chance a second observer will give a different grade • If a lesson is given a bottom grade, there’s a 90% chance a second observer will give a different grade. http://www.metproject.org/downloads/MET_Composite_Estimator_of_Effective_Tea ching_Research_Paper.pdf
    7. 7. Do we know a successful teacher when we see one? • Fewer than 1% of lessons judged inadequate are genuinely inadequate • Only 4% of lessons judged outstanding actually produce outstanding learning gains • Overall, 63% of judgements will be wrong Strong, M., Gargani, J., & Hacifazlioglu, O. (2011). Do we know a successful teacher when we see one? Experiments in the identification of effective teachers. Journal of Teacher Education, 62(4), 367–382.
    8. 8. What about ‘formative’ observations? • Personal preference & bias is hard to avoid • We focus on performance • If you can do it you can spot it? • Can observation really miss so much? .
    9. 9. Improving observation • • • • • Don’t make assumptions You’re there to learn Make it reciprocal Focus on instructional support Watch the teacher or the pupils? Lessons from Lemov
    10. 10. Quality Assurance • What are your non negotiables? – Pupils’ work – Quality of marking – Responses to feedback – Punctuality & attendance – Professionalism • How would lesson observation be used to ensure these things were happening?
    11. 11. @LearningSpy learningspy.co.uk ddidau@gmail.com