How do we ensure that our quality assurance develops our teachers?
We are all used to phrases about weighing and measuring rather than growing and feeding, yet in some schools, there are still monitoring and evaluation schedules and quality assurance timetables.
This signifies that we are focussing on some type of judgement rather than how we improve the quality of teaching and learning in school. Truly great teaching is key!
If you have decided that your focus for the remainder of this academic year is going to be on improving and developing teaching, here are eight steps to make it happen.
1.Rename your teaching and learning policy
‘Think in Ink”, Marilyn Monroe: This highlights to everybody what you are trying to achieve. It also makes you more accountable for what you are trying to do. Teachers will tell you if they feel the focus has slipped from development to monitoring.
2. Who is the lead?
In many schools, the colleague who manages the monitoring or quality assurance process is not the colleague who is responsible for CPD. This puts a barrier between giving judgements and making improvements. Make the change.
Your lead for CPD should also manage the process, then they are constantly making connections between the findings and the improvement processes in the place.
Better still? This person should also be your curriculum lead.
3. All colleagues need to be part of the process
Practice in many schools is that senior leader leads quality assurance processes. There is the old adage that observers improve but they often do the least teaching. Look to involve as many colleagues as possible so they can see good teaching and utilise it in their own classrooms…
4. Focus on the most important change
Do not give huge numbers of developments points.
In fact, be as precise as you can be on the key area for development. When I complete learning walks, I always ask the colleague from the school what is the single most important the teacher can do to improve before next time. It may be something really simple. For example, ‘Ditch the red marker which can’t be seen from the back.’
We then evaluate for this change the next time we visit the classroom.
5. Teaching not data
Many schools have pupil progress meetings with a senior leader who works with the teacher, looking at the performance on the pupils in the class.
Move the focus onto what are the barriers individual children are facing. The discussion should be around how the teacher with support can remove the barriers so children make more progress.
6. Support from colleagues
Ask colleagues what they can do to improve the teaching and learning of others in the school.
If you include a wider variety of colleagues in the process, then they can give more support. If you anonymously highlight single development point, (action 4), you can then ask staff if they can help with these.
7. Open classrooms
Replace some of your learning walks with open classrooms. Have a timetable, which highlights to teachers when colleagues would like other co-workers to visit their classrooms (to see what is happening and what they are trying).
8. Coaching, coaching, coaching.
Read widely about how you can implement coaching in your school. There is no doubt that coaching can be the most powerful tool to improve teaching and learning in your school.
Develop your own coaching process and provide training for teachers to coach.
These eight steps will stop teachers from dreading monitoring and evaluation. Instead, your focus on development will grow the quality of teaching which measuring alone, cannot do.