#FormativeLessonObs by @TeacherToolkit and @LeadingLearner

Reading time: 3


Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
Read more about @TeacherToolkit

The world of lesson observation is evolving and changing for the better. 

Over the last six months, we have seen a move to judging the quality of teaching rather than grading individual lessons and Ofsted trialling no grading within lessons.  This must only be a start.  The next big challenge – the one that could radically transform the quality of teaching – is a focus on #FormativeLessonObs.

The resource:

Formative Lesson Obs Sellfy

Download the resource here:

SellfyIf we are serious about having a world-class education system, then systematically improving the quality of teaching is critical.  Our primary aim must be to improve teaching, not measuring it.  This blog post has an associated resource that is being sold on Sellfy for £1.49.  There is also the option of purchasing a perpetual licence, cost dependent on school size, for use of the resource across the school.  The link to the resource is here.



Purpose of Lesson Observations:

Lesson observations are used for different purpose:

  • Summative to assess teaching & teachers with lessons graded and used as a proxy measure for quality of teaching
  • Diagnostic and formative to help develop teachers and enable them to become better practitioners
  • Diagnostic and evaluative to help develop the quality of teaching

In too many schools there is little or no feedback to teachers on key aspects of their practice.  #FormativeLessonObs looks to change that.  The focus of this post and the associated resource is purely formative.  An added bonus is the opportunity to identify a pool of expert practice in key areas that may be shared with other teachers.  The resource is linked to #BeyondLessonGrades but equally can be used on its own.

Improve Practice that has impact:

This may seem very obvious.  However, just think for a moment about the amount of time and effort we spend on professional development that doesn’t actually improve outcomes for our students.

Formative Lesson Obs Sellfy

The resource is devised around a few key sections and then further sub-divided into categories:

  1. Planning – Teacher Clarity and High Challenge, Developing Subject Procedural and Meta Cognitive Knowledge
  2. Practice – Positive Climate for Learning and Effective Classroom Practice
  3. Follow Up – High Quality Feedback and Homework (Secondary)

Each category has a crucial part in delivering high quality teaching.  These are then further broken down to produce a final list of sixteen high impact criteria.  These criteria form the basis of providing a detailed level of feedback to the teacher about her/his strengths and areas for further development.

Assessment and Feedback:

Formative Lesson Obs Sellfy

The spreadsheet which forms part of the resource seeks to triangulate information across a range of different pieces of evidence.  This includes the teacher’s self-perception of her/his strengths. The options available are:

  1. Share – Is the teacher’s practice highly effective and could be shared with other colleagues who are seeking to develop greater expertise in this area.
  2. Practice – Is the teacher’s practice effective and could form an area of focus for the teacher to develop and practice to develop greater expertise.
  3. Develop – Is the teacher’s practice not yet effective or possibly this is an area s/he doesn’t yet have in her/his repertoire.  This could be an area for the teacher to develop.

Developing greater experience:

Once there has actually been a thorough analysis of the teacher’s strengths and areas for development, the next stage is to determine one or two areas to focus on.  This is part of the professional dialogue between the teacher and peer reviewer/coach.

Formative Lesson Obs Sellfy

To develop our teaching ability we need to focus on one or two areas, over an extended period, in a deliberate manner with the support of a professional mentor or coach. Too often attempts to improve practice fail because we expect to break, change and then lock in new habits overnight.  This doesn’t happen, so, be patient with yourself.

Alternatively, we try to change too many things at the same time and the wheels come off.  The professional mentor or coach must work hard at this stage to ensure the teacher limits herself or himself to one or two areas and sustains the deliberate improvement practice over time. Good luck with developing your expertise. Better never stops, so just take the next step.  As David Brailsford would say, “this is about marginal gains”.

This blog post has an associated resource that is being sold on Sellfy.  The link to the resource is below:

Click the image to preview.

Formative Lesson Obs Sellfy


Part 1 of this 3-part series can be read here and purchased here.

#BeyondLessonObs Sellfy
Click to preview


This presentation by @TeacherToolkit (Ross Morrison McGill) & @LeadingLearner (Stephen Tierney) and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Based on all work published at www.teachertoolkit.me & www.leadinglearner.me

@TeacherToolkit Limited & @LeadingLearner Limited



4 thoughts on “#FormativeLessonObs by @TeacherToolkit and @LeadingLearner

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.