Teacher observers move out of the classroom

18th May 2007 at 01:00

BEING OBSERVED teaching by a senior member of staff is often a daunting experience for many trainees.

However, a school in Birmingham believes it has hit upon a simple system that takes the stress off teachers and gives both observers - and the trainees - eyes in the back of their heads when spotting disruptive pupils.

Two cameras have been rigged up in the classroom, with trainees wearing an earpiece. Observers can pass on advice from another part of Hollywell school, in Handsworth, through the Bluetooth headset.

The system, which costs around pound;300, does not require particularly advanced technology. The cameras can be moved easily from room to room, allowing trainees to be watched in their normal classroom environment.

Shelina Choudhury, 22, an English postgraduate certificate in education trainee, said the method seemed weird at first. "It takes a while to get used to having someone talking in your ear, but it has been very useful,"

she said.

"I tend to talk very fast and the teacher will often tell me if I'm going too quickly, or if I need to explain things better.

"They are an omniscient eye, so if there's a pupil scrunching paper under the desk behind you, they tell you. It really helps with classroom management and, after a couple of tries, I've seen improvements in my teaching."

The only problem the school has identified is the temptation for trainees to reply to the instructions coming through their earpiece.

Lorraine Thomas, the school's training co-ordinator, said that pupils had quickly grown accustomed to the video cameras in their lessons.

She said the teacher observer always tries to intervene as little as possible over the headset.

"We usually talk at transitional points in the lesson so they are not too distracted," she said.

"It is a relatively cheap and simple system and, unlike other methods, allows trainees to give their lesson in their normal classroom."

Video cameras are increasingly being used in schools to monitor newly qualified teachers, along with one-way mirrors.

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