How can we genuinely improve teaching?
Eighteen months ago, we removed lesson gradings and stop judging teachers. Over a period of time, we’ve been working out a better solution that helps teachers improve their classroom repertoire (and improve whole-school teaching).
Moving to an overtime methodology appears to be the way forward, steering away from an outdated – union informed – 3 observations-per-academic-year model, forming judgements of teachers that are often, invalid or unreliable assessments of what is taking place everyday. We have developed our own Learning Policy with is soon to be developed later this year; we have consulted on marking and introduced the Yellow Box to help teachers mark smarter not harder.
It appears to me that coaching is the solution for every school; a genuine attempt to help teachers improve; to encourage open-door classrooms and facilitate teachers to talk to one another about the same students they are teaching and the same issues they may be facing.
One small brick in the wall to strengthen teaching and learning.”
Over the past 2 to 3 months, conversations have evolved and inspiration has been taken from Teach Like A Champion, written by @Doug_Lemov; various coaching programmes and the book, Leverage Leadership by Paul Bambrick-Santoyo. Last month, former headteacher @KennyGFrederick started Teacher Rounds with a group of teachers in our school each signed up voluntary to trail this method; inspired by doctors and nurses who complete hospital rounds daily around a patient’s bed. Time has been promised to see how this action-research model can work.
Lesson Study and use of IRIS Connect has also evolved behind the scenes for the past 18 months. The culture is shifting …
What I now see needs to happen – in a landscape without lesson gradings – is a genuine attempt to replace a summative assessment of teaching with a formative model to genuinely improve what is going on in the classroom. To give teachers a model and the time to work together to improve.
Essentially the following part of this blog have been inspired by a visit I made to a school this week. This has given me the catalyst we need to drive teaching and learning that little bit forward.
This is how I view our work developing over the next 6 months.
- to banish lesson gradings once and forever.
- to stop the ‘3-model formal (summative) observations’ once per term – even if they are not graded, forever.
- to allow every teacher to volunteer to be coached.
- to identify a group of teachers who wish to be trained within a coaching framework.
- that all new staff to the school, including every NQT, School Direct and Teach First teacher to be part of the coachee programme, in addition to their induction process. This would not replace the support already in place.
- to include ZERO paperwork in the process; only a specific script to keep to (where possible). For example;
- Coach: ‘How best could I observe you that would best improve your practice?’
- Coach: (Would also agree a feedback time before the coaching observation took place)
- Coachee: Identify their own target; just one.
- Coach: This is all the coach would look at (not for) during the observation.
- Coach/Coachee: the feedback session would focus in on a Praise-Question-Suggestion-Action Step model.
- to ensure a ‘common vernacular’ (thank you Alex Thomas)
- to build our own programme alongside models listed above, using expertise within the school.
- to offer one period a week for coaches to visit their coachee.
- all teaching staff would be able to choose their own coach.
- relationships would mainly be outside of the coachee’s department.
- appraisal would never be a factor; nor line-management relationships.
- every coached observation would last 15 minutes and focus on one action step (only).
- feedback would take place within 24 hours and be no longer than 30 minutes.
- the cycle would repeat each week. Time would be given in return for trust/ to ensure it would happen.
- to develop the Department Diagnostic report to help gather a picture of teaching, learning and assessment throughout a cycle (one academic year).
- learning walks would still happen by departments to gather a flavour of work across the school – for every department – but this would be divorced from this proposal.
- at the end of the cycle, the programme would be tweaked and the coach and coachee bank of staffing would be reviewed for the year ahead.
These are just my initial thoughts and I’m sure they will evolve over the coming weeks.
… a genuine attempt to replace a summative assessment of teaching with a formative model to genuinely improve what is going on in the classroom.”
I hope we will have something concrete in place during the summer term so we can launch something with our staff.
Watch this space … and get in touch with your thoughts.