5 Tips for Successful Pupil Lesson Observations

Lesson Observations are a Fantastic Opportunity for Development

Lesson Observations are very much an embedded part of the performance management cycle of most schools.  Whilst some of us love to hate them, there is no denying that when handled appropriately, lesson observations provide a fantastic opportunity for development, both for the observed and the observer.

Every Lesson You Teach is Observed by 30 Pairs of Eyes

Has it ever struck you as strange though, how much extra preparation you find yourself doing when you know your lesson will be observed by a colleague… or, God Forbid, OfSTED?  After all, every lesson you teach is observed.  By 30 pairs of eyes.  And you can bet your bottom dollar that your thirty omnipresent observers who see the good, the bad and the ugly rather than just the ‘Ofsted special’ have more to tell you about how you can develop your lessons than any Ofsted inspector ever could.

Embracing Student Voice

Asking students to observe your lessons whether it’s by simply getting in the habit of asking for feedback, conducting occasional surveys, or formally training pupils as observers is a fantastic way of making your students feel heard and a great way to weave their ideas into your teaching and adapt your existing skills and techniques to best suit the learning styles of your classes.

Five Tips for Successful Pupil Lesson Observations

Fancy giving it a go?  A few points to bear in mind…

1. Be prepared to listen:

Don’t ask your pupils’ opinions unless you intend to really listen and change if appropriate.  Otherwise they won’t bother to speak up next time.

2. Prepare your students:

Don’t just suddenly ask your students at the end of a ropy lesson ‘Well what went wrong there then?’ you’ll leave yourself open for a tirade of abuse and a broken ego.  Instead (for informal observations) talk to your students at the beginning of a lesson about feedback you’ll be looking for at the end.  Explain why their input is important.  If you want your students to carry out more formal observations, proper training is vital.

3. Involve students in all aspects of the process:

If you’re planning of involving students in more formal style lesson observations, or you want to survey them, involve them in the development of the lesson observation form or survey.  This process can be quite informative in its own right as you learn which aspects of a lesson pupils are keen to focus on when observing and feeding back.

4. Leave adequate time:

Feedback will be meaningless if pupils are in a hurry to get off to lunch (or if you are!).  Make sure you leave plenty of time to really explore their thoughts and feelings about a lesson.  If tasks run over and it looks like you’re not going to have adequate time,  you could always discuss the pupils’ feedback at the beginning of the next lesson instead.

5. Be Selective:

Not all ideas are good ones, be selective about which pupil ideas you embrace and which you tactfully do away with!

What are the pros and cons of having pupils observe lessons?

Is a formal or informal approach better, and why?

How can pupil observations be used to drive whole school improvement?