#TLT13: Great Teaching – Your Way

This blog outlines my session at #TLT13, which in itself was a version of the CPD programme we ran at Chew Valley last year as detailed in my posts: Outstanding teaching and great teachers – a whole school CPD approach and Outstanding teaching and great teachers (part 2).

CVS Outstanding Lessons

What makes an outstanding lesson? And who decides?

Ofsted set out their criteria for evaluating the quality of teaching and learning in an institution as a whole. In their School Inspection Handbook, footnote 42, it says:

“These grade descriptors describe the quality of teaching in the school as a whole, taking account of evidence over time. While they include some characteristics of individual lessons, they are not designed to be used to judge individual lessons.”

We know that plenty of schools ignore this and adapt the criteria to apply them to individual lessons – for some very understandable reasons. We also know that this leads to teachers teaching “observation specials” to try and jump through the hoops of the taken-out-of-context criteria. You can read about the impact of this in @cazzypot’s blog: Is Michael Gove lying to us all? and in @BarryNSmith79’s Lesson Objectives, Good Practice, and What Really Matters along with far too many others.

Let’s start again.

A typical teacher’s directed time is 760 hours in a year. How many of those will be formally observed by someone else – three? Five? Ten? Whatever the number, there’s a lot of hours in a year when it’s just you and your learners in the room.

Forget outstanding. Think about a great lesson you’ve taught – not a lesson where someone else was watching, but one of those lessons where it all worked. Where you and the kids left the room bathed in the warm glow of achievement. Where teaching felt really, really good. What were the ingredients? What made it work? And which of those features can you replicate in your classroom on Monday?

If you were to start with a blank sheet of paper, how would you define a great lesson?

A blank sheet of paper

A blank sheet of paper

Think about:

  • Structure
  • Activities
  • Behaviour
  • Outcomes

And, if that’s a great lesson, what are the qualities of a great teacher? And how can we live them in the classroom for all 760 hours of the year?

An adapted version of this session was delivered at #TMNSL at Bristol Brunel Academy on Thursday 20th March 2014.

5 thoughts on “#TLT13: Great Teaching – Your Way

  1. I used your booklets to stimulate ideas from our staff in our Sept inset [thank you!] and we discussed subject specific desirable great lesson characteristics-a much needed discussion after the usual whole school Ofsted type of stuff-once that albatross was off our necks we could get down to the nitty gritty of developing agreed teaching skills. The documents produced can be used in helping to meet future CPD/appraisal individual needs, discussions with students re great learning and to inform observers what to look for in our formal and informal shared observations. We did use Ofsted subject specific criteria for some ideas [I find them quite useful and don’t have an issue with some of their notions of good teaching-colleagues usually come up with similar-or are we all conditioned to do that!] and mixed them with whole school targets [high attainers, cohorts, literacy etc.] and dept specific choices based on their perceived needs e.g. an area of weakness from an examiner’s report and more altruistic and creative wishes. We also considered what great learning should look like for the students too.
    Like you we stress the contribution everyone, teachers, TAs and students can make to great whole school learning and teaching-more than just an Ofsted or observed one-off lesson and have taken our idea to local teachmeets and schools. Have tweeted a copy of our teacher quiz we used at inset and have others for TAs, subject leader students etc. Thank you for your original idea-it got me thinking!

    • That is so brilliant to hear. I’m all for customising to fit your context, and I too have nothing against the Ofsted criteria when they’re applied properly to whole-school teaching and learning. I’m really glad you got something valuable out of it. Thanks so much for commenting! Made my day.

  2. Pingback: First Anniversary – a year of edublogging | Teaching: Leading Learning

  3. Pingback: Outstanding teaching and great teachers – a whole school CPD approach | Teaching: Leading Learning

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