They stalk the corridors of schools, striking fear into the hearts of even the most senior teachers. They are...the Ofsted school inspectors!
Inspections of any kind can be very stressful for those at the cutting edge. They can be intense and exhausting, as everyone gets immersed in over-preparation.
The stress of an inspection can make usually rational people incoherent. “Normal" thought processes vanish but you need to find a way to stay calm and focus on what you do best – teaching!
Almost all the teachers will be observed at some point during an inspection. The judgments Ofsted inspectors make are inevitably taken very personally and can feel extremely subjective. It is important to make sure you understand the process fully and demonstrate your strongest achievements to the inspectors.
From good to outstanding
Every teacher wants to provide the best possible lessons for their students.
Every teacher should be taking part in self reflection as a means of improving their own teaching.
So how do you get from good to outstanding?
What is needed is succinct, clear evidence of outcomes successfully achieved?
Ofsted has clear criteria for its assessments of teaching and learning. This can be a useful bench mark when assessing yourself or preparing for an appraisal or inspection.
When planning and assessing your lessons you should be looking at the same things as an inspector/appraiser:
- progress and achievement
- quality teaching
- pupil response
- direction of teaching assistants
- home work.
Try using the LESSON OBSERVATION to assess your own lessons and decide what rating you would give yourself? Ensure your planning and lessons “Ticks all the right boxes “ If you have ticks in the other boxes make sure you see progressions towards outstanding .
Try reading the OUTSTANDING TEACHER document. No one wants to “Be in the red”
Simple ideas to improve your lessons
- Create thought provoking starter activities. Have it ready as soon as the students arrive on the desk/whiteboard. Get the class to start as latecomers arrive.
- Use tiered learning objectives and colour coded to help students realise progression from green to orange to red means difficulty increases.
- Use learning objectives not task based objectives:
- Define/recall/describe/summarise (Green L/O)
- Explain/compare/discuss/compose (Orange L/O)
- Anaylse/evaluate/investigate (Red L/O)
- Refer to learning objectives consistently throughout the lesson – not just the beginning and the end.
- Use hinge point questions (Questions to test understanding before allowing students to move on to the next learning objective).
- Have mini-whiteboards on the desk. Even if you hadn't planned to use them, you might find them invaluable when you have to re-model a task and think on your feet
- Make sure your resources are creative and have learning objectives on worksheets so students know where they are in the lesson.
- Avoid getting students to copy out definitions/key information - get them to work for this information themselves.
- Step back from being the expert in the class from time to time and let students show their ability to learn independently.
- Use different types of activities from lesson to lesson. Aim to keep students on their toes each lesson so they do not know what to expect.
- Re-model tasks verbally to help differentiate.
- Ensure that you speak to every student in the room at least once during a lesson (Say hello, ask them a question, praise them, comment on their work).
- If students simply aren't getting the content of your lesson-don't soldier on in fear of deviating from your lesson plan. Instead re-model and re-shape your learning objectives and lesson.
- Ask probing, open-ended questions.
- Be consistent with behaviour rules/discipline with every student in the class
- Ensure you know where the learners are with their progression (AFL- mini whiteboards- post it notes etc.).
- Always have an extension task or two ready – students should never run out of work to complete.
- Ensure that you complete a plenary to find out which students have reached their learning objectives.