Student/NQT guide to… Classroom observations

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By Robin Warren a primary 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

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 immediately (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, co-ordinators, link inspectors and Ofsted. Even beyond your first few years, regular monitoring will continue – by senior management and/or co-ordinators. Again, the link inspector may decide to wander around as well as Ofsted. If you’re a Y2 teacher then you can expect more scrutiny than other year groups.

The facts about mentors

Most mentors will have already completed a course of one sort or another. These are run by teacher training establishments or by local businesses. LEAs now run courses to improve the mentoring of new teachers. Therefore school systems should soon become standardised with new teacher training regulations (if they have not done so already).

“You will have more people in your class than a Next store during January sales”

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.

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