Monday, 27 October 2014

"How did that go?" - starting to evaluate lessons

You get to the end of an observed lesson and the observer asks, "How did that go?"  What are you supposed to say?  Where do you start?*

Basically the observer is asking for an evaluation.  He or she wants you to give your (informed) opinion on your own strengths and areas for development in relation to what has just taken place. This fits with Teachers' Standard 8 - you're being asked to demonstrate that you can take responsibility for improving teaching.  But there are lots of different ways of approaching this, different angles to consider.  Here's one:

Evaluating learning and teaching 
When asked "How did that go?" you could talk about these two elements separately.  For example you could comment on the extent to which the children you were teaching made progress - this is evaluating learning - and you would need to link this evaluation to evidence.  If your response to the observer's question were "All the children made progress" then the observer's follow-up should be "How do you know?"  (You need to think about this when you plan your lesson - How will you know at the end of the lesson that the children have made progress?)

You could comment on the extent to which your teaching was effective.  The complication with this is that if the children haven't made progress the conclusion should be that your teaching wasn't effective.  However well thought out your plan, however well prepared and well resourced your lesson, if the children haven't made progress, if you haven't made a positive impact on their learning, this was an unsuccessful lesson.  Having said that, after an unsuccessful lesson, if you can pinpoint what it was that didn't work, you can turn this experience around.  Thinking about and identifying what didn't work gives you a clear platform for improving teaching (see, again, Teachers' Standard 8).

Frankly, learning and teaching are inseparable.   If you felt that your teaching had been effective but that the children had made no evident progress, then there's an opportunity for you to dissect your teaching - Why didn't the approach I used have the impact that I'd anticipated? If you felt that you hadn't taught the lesson effectively but that the children had made progress, then there's a different kind of opportunity - What am I doing unwittingly that is resulting in evident pupil progress?

And your evaluation can be framed entirely positively.  Children made progress.  The teaching was effective.  But always be ready to respond to follow-up questions from the observer.  "Did all children make the progress you'd anticipated?  Were all children appropriately challenged?  How do you know?"

*These suggestions also work if you're starting to complete written lesson evaluations.

No comments:

Post a Comment