Progress over time #POTteaching: by @TeacherToolkit

Reading Time: 5 minutes

These are notes have been shared with our (G2O) Good to Outstanding group. We have asked ourselves at leadership; as well as with our G2O group, what is ‘progress over time‘?

Baffled?

What is it? Why does it matter? How can you evidence it? How can you observe it?

Photo Credit: SalFalko via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: SalFalko via Compfight cc

Our next stage is to take this thought-process to all our staff in a series of training sessions throughout the spring and summer terms. Much of our whole school journey can be viewed here in my #PiXL13 National Conference presentation; as well as our recent push on #BookLooks recently shared with my readers.

Our aim, is for all our teachers to be equipped and agree with two key aspects:

  1. What is ‘progress over time’ a) across the school and b) in a lesson?
  2. What information is sourced in lessons day-to-day?

Immersion:

Photo Credit: riandreu via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: riandreu via Compfight cc

The immersed view, is that teachers can be judged on a one-off (appraisal) lesson, which has typically been lodged in all our school policies and procedures, and therefore, in all our minds. (I refrained from using the word ‘mindset’! Did you notice?)

I believe it is time for us all to make a huge shift in proceedings. I discuss the alternatives at the foot of this page.

Former-feedback model:

At best, we may use this simple diagram to describe this former judgement-method shown below.

Judgements over time (old school process).
Judgements over time (old school process).

In this method above, how have you have been judged in (former) one-off lessons? Does this sum up those one-off lessons? You know, the ones where you pull-out-all-the-stops, to show-and-tell your appraiser, ‘this is me!’ Yet, only to find, that you have not ‘ticked all the boxes’ and then receive a judgement you didn’t half-expect?!

How can this be a robust model? Why have we not questioned this enough over the past decade?!

The alternatives:

There are various models we can use with the new-era of judgements on teaching and learning. This may be through a typical appraisal process; or a coaching and mentoring programme, such as our Good in Ten; CPD programme which looks to support teachers ‘over time’; or a paired and triad-method of peer-to-peer observation – which takes time – that works very well when carefully planned and revisited.

Have your say!

Vote below - Have your say!  Photo Credit: JosephGilbert.org via Compfight cc
Vote below – Have your say!
Photo Credit: JosephGilbert.org via Compfight cc

I have added a poll here to gauge how the reader is typically judged in your own school.

The problems:

These questions and thoughts were posed to our very own G2O group:

  1. Are we interested in our students getting the best deal (and therefore learning the most) day in day out?
  2. As a teacher, is it far more valuable for you, to get feedback on a typical lesson that you teach, than compared to a show-case lesson that you ‘put on a show’ for an observation/appraiser? (Consider that, at the moment, our lesson judgements and therefore feedback conversations are focused on the one show-case lesson.
  3. In the observer role, we cannot be in every lesson, every day, or even every week to judge; so what can we use to frame feedback conversations, so that they are informed by day-to-day teaching and impact on day-to-day teaching? (Note, the Ofsted criteria was not meant to be applied to a single lesson observation but, like many other schools, that is how we have used it in the past.)
  4. Ofsted want to make a judgement on teaching over time which leads to progress over time. To do this they will look at books, not just to see if they are marked, but to see patterns of improvement and sequence of learning. They will also need to see data.
  5. Is the data reliable? If an RI teacher produced data showing good progress, could we trust it?

Further complications:

Clear as mud!  Photo Credit: eatmorechips via Compfight cc
Clear as mud!
Photo Credit: eatmorechips via Compfight cc

It’s complicated and muddy!

Teachers (typically) seeking to demonstrate progress over a lesson, would:

  1. Sometimes, teachers actually slow down the rate of learning (with excessive use of mini-plenaries or less time spent on the real practical part e.g. in PE/ Music)
  2. Others feel less confident going off on fertile tangents, or adapting the lesson to suit the students, as they fear losing control over the learning and being unable to demonstrate the precise progress they have planned.

What does this mean for teaching, observing and feeding back?

Are you clear?  Photo Credit: C.P.Storm via Compfight cc
Are you clear?
Photo Credit: C.P.Storm via Compfight cc

When we observe we should:

  1. Require proper data (showing evidence of regular assessment and showing that the teacher has responded / acted / adapted on the basis of the data)
  2. Look through many books and folders (marking, evidence of acting on targets, evidence of sequence of lessons that have gone before).
  3. Talk to (the same) students …
  4. Look out for links to prior learning. e.g. knowledge, skills, understanding and so forth …

If we do not do ALL of these things, we cannot make an accurate judgement.

When we feedback:

We must ask questions. The assumption is, is that the teacher ‘knows the class’ and has planned the lesson acting on this knowledge. If you do not mark, you cannot and do not know your class. If you do not know your class, you cannot teach them effectively. The same goes for tracking data progress over time. Or ‘monitoring’ as it specifically says in the Ofsted handbook (September 2013).

But here lies the danger.

 Photo Credit: Free Grunge Textures - www.freestock.ca via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Free Grunge Textures – www.freestock.ca via Compfight cc

If we move to a model of ‘progress over time’, designed to make judgements of monitoring progress across the school, are we not recreating the entire process again? And for individual teachers and lessons – based on the same judgemental format – we have been accustomed to love or hate!

That is, we create a model to judge individual teachers, based on progress over time for individual lessons and dare I say it, this is automatically reincarnated for one-off lessons too and used inappropriately  …

Are you a Mr. Know-It-All?

You know your students better than anyone else. Could you talk about specific students; based on data;  books; conversations with them and their performance in your lesson?

Are you equipped as an observer, to ask these questions of students and teachers in or out of lessons?

What do you think?

How would you go about using this opportunity to overhaul, how whole-school judgements are made and how this can be (and if it should be) translated into individual lessons?

Future-feedback model:

I give you our own personal challenge, as outline in the simple slide below.

Judgements over time...
Judgements over time…

Whatever process you use to make judgements on individual or whole-school teaching and learning; whether this be through a coaching-model, or a typical appraisal process; it is vital that all sources of evidence are consider and that the observer(s) is equipped and trained to be able to do so.

I’d like to think, I could take the above pie-chart and still be able to form a judgement over time, in a single, one-off lesson. But for me, this would be entirely WRONG and is more about my observational experience, rather than an informed and justified opinion. This would support our former-feedback model. Our immersed practice.

It is up for all observers to consider more than just the proposed model above. I have called this, The Ugly Truth and discussed this here in my last post.

To be able to observe a teacher accurately, needs a desired level of knowledge, skill and understanding. Not everyone is equipped, nor has the level of experience and confidence to do this under the former model and the proposed future model.

So, what are the solutions?

Progress - how would you measure this over time? Photo Credit: Victoria Nevland via Compfight cc
Progress – how would you measure this over time?
Photo Credit: Victoria Nevland via Compfight cc

Are we as a school and as a profession, ready to have the ability to shape our own procedures? We may think that we are very close, but it would be incredibly easy to fall back into the same trap, just under the guise of another new name / fad / model.

My parting question to you is this. Forget this jargon of ‘progress over time’. Instead, consider how would you approach this future-feedback model as a whole-school approach, and avoid this methodology becoming embedded into our one-off lesson judgements?

What would you do?

Why?

And most of all how? Please do let me know …

@TeacherToolkit

In 2010, Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit from a simple Twitter account in which he rapidly became the 'most followed teacher on social media in the UK'. In 2015, he was nominated for '500 Most Influential People in Britain' in The Sunday Times as one of the most influential in the field of education - he remains the only classroom teacher to feature to this day ... Sharing online as @TeacherToolkit, he rebuilt this website (c2008) into what you are now reading, as one of the 'most influential blogs on education in the UK', winning the number one spot at the UK Blog Awards (2018). Today, he is currently a PGCE tutor and is researching 'social media and its influence on education policy' for his EdD at Cambridge University. In 1993, he started teaching and is an experienced school leader working in some of the toughest schools in London. He is also a former Teaching Awards winner for 'Teacher of the Year in a Secondary School, London' (2004) and has written several books on teaching (2013-2018). Read more...

10 thoughts on “Progress over time #POTteaching: by @TeacherToolkit

  • 10th December 2013 at 9:15 pm
    Permalink

    An interesting piece, thanks. Here’s an idea – stop doing lesson observations altogether – make every SLT member put together a year long programme of working with departments they line manage. Work WITH the teachers in the classroom, have discussions about their 21/25 working week. Get to know how they function; how much time they spend marking, how they mark, how much time they spend planning and how they plan; what they feel they need to do to improve; their greatest strengths …. Etc etc …. All this so that SLT can make a secure judgement about staff abilities. I have started doing this since October and it’s already proving very insightful. I am learning about the stresses and strains of change that we place upon people with 21/25 timetables, upon HoDs and pastoral heads. I am also learning about how they have to flex with the demands placed upon them – the best do that very well – others struggle and buckle through lack of correct support from their line managers. For me Ross, we need to work WITH people and stop doing stuff TO them; I realise that’s the way you are working and credit to you for that.

    Reply
  • 11th December 2013 at 7:00 am
    Permalink

    Fascinating to read. Over time, 33 years of headship, I have found that the good to great model as a linear progression does not work, and Jim Collins book of this title confirms.
    Lesson observations, most particularly through the lesson study approach, help improve practice. What price the lesson if the school’s curriculum is set up inappropriately – numeracy and literacy hours for example.
    What price behaviour management when the tracking process actually smacks of illegal unfair practice, if viewed through the lens of employment law. Schools hurtling towards prp eagerly expecting Nirvana to arrive better quickly learn Pink’s message about how bonus systems corrupt.

    Reply
  • 11th December 2013 at 7:06 am
    Permalink

    Fascinating to read. Over time, 33 years of headship, I have found that the good to great model as a linear progression does not work, and Jim Collins book of this title confirms.
    Lesson observations, most particularly through the lesson study approach, help improve practice. What price the lesson if the school’s curriculum is set up inappropriately – numeracy and literacy hours for example.
    What price behaviour management when the tracking process actually smacks of illegal unfair practice, if viewed through the lens of employment law. Schools hurtling towards prp eagerly expecting Nirvana to arrive better quickly learn Pink’s message about how bonus systems corrupt.

    Reply
    • 11th December 2013 at 8:00 pm
      Permalink

      Hi James – thank you for your comments. We live in interesting times. I think the progress over time model has potential; but we are in uncharted territory. This will only ber further complicated (this time next year), when PRP comes into full swing!

      Reply
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