Separating learning from
Performance is measurable
but learning must be inferred
from performance: it cannot
be observed directly.
Robert A Bjork
‘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,
• 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
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.
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
• 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.
What about ‘formative’
• Personal preference & bias is hard to
• We focus on performance
• If you can do it you can spot it?
• Can observation really miss so much?
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
• What are your non negotiables?
– Pupils’ work
– Quality of marking
– Responses to feedback
– Punctuality & attendance
• How would lesson observation be used
to ensure these things were