Hungry for feedback?

1st October 2004 at 01:00
Quality observations and discussion of your classroom practice are a must

Apart from mists and mellow fruitfulness, October brings a season of feeling exhausted as well as some important milestones in your induction year. By half-term you should have had:

* at least one observation of your teaching practice with written and verbal feedback

* a half-termly review of your progress

* regular meetings with your induction tutor; and

* induction time for professional development.


Having your lessons observed is an opportunity to get some really useful feedback on the state of your practice. The true value of observation, however, depends on how well it is planned, executed and discussed afterwards. So do your best to be clear about when you're going to be observed, for how long and by whom.

To get maximum benefit from an observation, think about what you'd like the observer to look out for - perhaps a particular problem you may be having.

Far from being an admission of failure, this will demonstrate to your observer that you are a reflective practitioner who wants to improve.

Think about what the person observing you is looking for, and address aspects of your practice that haven't gone well before. Obviously, you will want to show that you're making progress against your objectives, but look carefully at induction standards as well as those for qualified teacher status.

The dialogue that takes place after a lesson observation is vital. Use this forum to discuss the minutiae of the lesson and to get ideas for improvements. There is no such thing as a perfect teacher (except perhaps in your mind), so your lesson does not have to be perfect. On the other hand, though, you do need to show that you are reflective, making progress and taking others' advice on board.

Don't be too disheartened if your lesson doesn't go as well as you'd hoped.

See it as an event that you can learn from and take the advice offered to you. Remember that this was a one-off performance, a snapshot - and things will be very different tomorrow. Be open to ideas. Accept, and even encourage, constructive criticism.


Have you set a date for your half-termly review of progress? You should get together with your induction tutor, take stock and appreciate what you've learnt and how far you've come. You should also have a clear picture of how well you are doing so far. And remember to think about how you are getting on with the objectives you set after transition point 2 in the Career Entry and Development Profile (CEDP).

Perhaps you have had to stray off course from the way you really want to teach - and for all kinds of reasons. For example, your pupils might behave better while they are sitting in rows, though that might not be the way you want to work in the long term. Perhaps priorities need to change. If you're not making satisfactory progress, you need to have the problems diagnosed and get the extra support you need. So think about what would help.


There should be regular planned meetings with your induction tutor. It is all too easy to let these slide because of other demands on your time.

Often, the successful NQTs are left to their own devices, but they too need to be challenged in order to become even better teachers.

It's a very good idea to have weekly meetings with your induction tutor, though it all depends on how much support you're getting from others.

Planning and assessment meetings with other people will be of enormous benefit. Similarly, making friends with someone on the staff with whom you can discuss these issues will help to ease the burden on your induction tutor - just as long as the advice you're getting from different quarters isn't contradictory.

As everyone concerned is so busy, aim for quality rather than quantity when it comes to meetings. Casual chats in the staffroom at breaktime may be handy, but cannot and should not replace planned meetings. Try for a regular half-hour meeting with a fixed start and finish time and an agreed agenda, albeit informal and flexible.


Finally, look at your induction entitlement and let your induction tutor know if anything needs to be improved. Are you getting your 10 per cent reduced timetable? Are you happy with the person who is covering your lessons? Are you using the opportunity wisely? This is not meant to be catch-up time - it should be used for your professional development. How many other teachers have you observed? What has been most useful and why? What ideas have you put into practice? Are you becoming a better teacher?

* "I think I was neglected - because everyone was happy with me. But now I feel disappointed in myself because I know I should be doing a lot better than I am"

Jack, a primary teacher who completed his induction last year

* "My induction tutor is so controlling - she seems to feel the need to tell me how to take the top off a board pen"

Cathy, an NQT working in a secondary school

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