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Beginner’s guide to classroom observations

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By Robin Warrenprimary teacher and freelance writer.

A clipboard, a knowing smile, eyes that follow you around the room – yes, the observers are here and they’re watching you! Tick the right boxes with this handy guide…

Teacher being observed

Being observed is like being the star of a show – no matter how prepared you feel, there is always the danger that the critics are going to eat you for lunch. It is the nature of any ‘assessment’ that your strengths will be highlighted immediate (and then brushed aside), and the negative bits are dwelt on (which you then spend days and months pondering over). Don’t worry. Observations don’t always have to be a nightmare.

Throughout your career, you will be observed. As an NQT, I advise you get used to it. You will have more people in your class than a Next store during the January sales. These will usually be your mentor coordinators, link inspectors and Ofsted. Even beyond your first few years, regular monitoring will continue – by senior management and/or coordinators. Again, the link inspector may decide to wander around as well as Ofsted. If you’are a Y2 teacher then you can expect more scrutiny than other year groups.

The facts about mentors

Most mentors will have already compled a course of one sort or another. These are run by teacher training establishments or by local businesses. LEAs also run courses to improve the mentoring of new teachers. There are, however, rare occasions when someone who really should not be doing the job might be assigned to observe you delivering a lesson. They might be overly critical, a little negative and make you feel completely useless. This is not a good observer.

Generally speaking, you will be assessed on your knowledge and understanding in a subject, your professional qualities and your classroom management. There will be variations of course, but in all cases you should be aiming to present a good, balanced, organised lesson. Ideally we should be performing like this at all times, but we wouldn’t be human if we didn’t have the occasional bad day (as in ‘Morning after the Christmas party’). The key is to make sure that these are not the days on which you are getting observed.

Preparing the classroom

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