Keep an eye on the watchers

2nd February 2007 at 00:00
Make sure you are all present and correct and ready for observation, says Sara Bubb

Have you been observed yet? This is the half-term when things most often slip so you will need to nudge your induction tutor into organising it soon.

You should be judged on your progress towards meeting qualified teacher status and induction standards but lots of people like to pretend that they are inspectors and grade lessons on the four-point Ofsted criteria. I don't think they should because it's unhelpful, unnecessary and may even be inaccurate (is your judge a trained inspector?) but if you are assessed that way, be prepared.

The key thing to remember about the inspection criteria is that the relationship between your teaching and the pupils' learning will be analysed. Bear this in mind when you're planning because some lessons demonstrate your impact more than others.

You need to make sure pupils acquire new knowledge or skills, develop ideas and increase their understanding. You're judged on how much the kids engage, work hard and concentrate, as well as learn. I'm sure they do so in all your lessons! The trouble is that some subjects interest, encourage and engage pupils more than others so if you have any choice, avoid topics which bore even you.

Obviously you'll prepare well, but make sure you show good subject knowledge. Insecurity normally exposes itself when you try to answer those funny questions kids ask, under the pressure of knowing an observer is listening hard. Make observations work for you so you develop. Teaching requires a lot of self-confidence so you should be looking to people to boost yours rather than knocking it. Some schools see trainees and new teachers as guinea pigs to practise their observation and feedback skills on, which really isn't fair. I met one guy who was observed 12 times in nine weeks. It can be really damaging to have your every move analysed, so let your induction tutor know what helps and what hinders progress.

With a bit of luck, you'll feel brave enough by now to be observed teaching something which normally doesn't go well. It's bad enough when a lesson doesn't go well but when someone has been in the room observing the chaos, you can sink to new levels of humiliation. Shedding tears in the staff loos is a perfectly normal reaction, but dry your eyes and see the feedback session as a way to get help. That's what induction is all about. Teaching is tough. People aren't born as super-teachers. Everyone has to work at it Sara Bubb is an education consultant specialising in induction. She regularly answers questions on our forums at

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