Please Come In!

Is your classroom open for business?

Teachers need courage. It’s not a job for the faint-hearted but it does seem to attract a shed load of people with crushing self-doubts.

One area where many teachers feel anxiety is being observed.

The problem with observation comes down to it being a high-stakes ‘done to you’ experience.

Things are changing though and observations are slowly losing their fear factor thanks to a shift in mindset about how we can help and support each other. Who would have thought that?!

Observations have held teachers accountable and the grip has been so tight that many colleagues have crumbled.

Yet, it doesn’t have to be this way. Some teachers have the courage to invite people into their classrooms to observe. Where this happens it is normally in a supportive school with a collegiate atmosphere focused on growth.

Take Deputy Head Mr Starr. He has the right attitude when it comes to observation:

Reclaiming lesson observations as our own is definitely the way to go because it gives teachers ownership and removes the fear. Why wouldn’t you want someone to come and watch you teach, especially if you can share expertise and support development.

If we adopt a more casual ‘drop-in’ approach to lessons then we can strip away the anxiety as observation being ‘an event’. It isn’t an event. Children observe us all day long and we don’t get hung up about what their opinions (too much!) so why should an adult make us feel inadequate? Being observed is, or can be, an empowering experience and opportunity especially when you provide clues as to what you are trying to improve as Mr Starr has done.

Psychologically safe schools that value collaboration, value ideas and help teachers grow don’t make a big deal of observations because they don’t make them ‘formal’. They make them an ordinary experience where our classrooms are open for business not hidden behind closed doors.

The #Observeme idea is well-worth getting behind and making a feature of in your school but it needs to be something all staff do.

As I have said in my blog Observation Deck

We are now witnessing, at least in forward-thinking schools, a culture that celebrates and nurtures success rather than a culture of fear that vomits toxic tuts and soul-destroying criticisms.

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