Beech nut case.
, by Friedrich Schiller, 1804.
In the 14 century, Switzerland was ruled by the Habsburg Emperors of Austria.
From 1300, Gessler, the Austrian ruler of Swiss Altdorf on Lake Lucerne, raised a pole in the village’s central square, hung his hat on top of it, and demanded that all the townsfolk bow before the hat.
In 1307, William Tell, mountaineer and expert crossbow marksman, walked by the hat with his son and refused to bow to it. Gessler, infuriated by his defiance but intrigued by his fame,
arrested him and devised a cruel punishment: execution unless he could shoot an apple
off his son’s head with a single crossbow shot. Tell split the apple, struck a blow for liberty,
and sparked Switzerland’s successful rebellion for independence.
The fearful prospect of a missed target
Ask any teacher for their experience of summative observations, and it’s likely their answer
will involve various expletives. It’s no surprise that Secret Teacher guest bloggers, given a choice of any topic, have several times chosen to fulminate about them, asking:
of pre-planned lesson observations?
Four of Britain’s education bloggers, Tom Bennett (‘ : being formally observed ranks just below self-immolation as an activity of choice’), Andrew Old (‘there is a big problem with this obsession: ’), David Didau (‘ : why do we insist on grading lesson observations?’) and Tom Sherrington (‘ ’),
have asked similar questions
To my mind, there are four problems with our system of summative observations:
1. High-stakes judgements create undue pressure and stress.
2. Numerically graded labels lead to over-prepared performances.
3. Criteria and targets are often unhelpful or counterproductive.
4. The one-off observation model is a chronically narrow snapshot of actual teaching.
This blogpost, all I want to do is collate what teachers are saying about the current system of lesson observations. Anecdotes and comments from across the education blogosphere tell their own story:
1. High-Stakes Judgement: Under The Microscope
2. Numerical Grading: A Game of Twister
3. Ever-Shifting Sands: Unhelpful Criteria…
… and Unhelpful Targets
4. Flawed Snapshot
What’s so problematic about our observation system?
In sum, summative observations are high stakes, high stress, high pressure.
They judge teachers by grading lessons on a 1-4 number scale, unhelpfully labelling them.
They encourage over-prepared ‘performances’ and don’t enable anyone to build any kind of picture of what learning is actually happening day-to-day.
The criteria don’t often help teachers improve. The feedback is unhelpful or counter productive.
The whole process of taking a one-off snapshot is flawed.
As Old Andrew says, “
As Tom Bennett says,
As David Didau says, “
The most striking questions from the comments on the Secret Teacher articles ask, with urgent insistency: “
You can TCR software and engineering manuals for spontaneously recall – or pass that exam.
I can Turbo Charge Read a novel 6-7 times faster and remember what I’ve read.
I can TCR an instructional/academic book around 20 times faster and remember what I’ve read.
Introduction to Turbo Charged Reading YouTube
A practical overview of Turbo Charged Reading YouTube
How to choose a book. A Turbo Charged Reading YouTube
Emotions when Turbo Charged Reading YouTube
Advanced Reading Skills Perhaps you’d like to join my FaceBook group ?
Perhaps you’d like to check out my sister blogs:
www.innermindworking.blogspot.com gives many ways for you to work with the stresses of life
www.ourinnerminds.blogspot.com which takes advantage of the experience and expertise of others.
www.happyartaccidents.blogspot.com just for fun.
To quote the Dr Seuss himself, “The more that you read, the more things you will know.
The more that you learn; the more places you'll go.