One of the things I do when I am struggling to sleep, is find a TED talk. If you've not heard of TED, you should have done! It stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design and has become a global network of talks under the slogan "ideas worth spreding". It actually began as a one off conference in 1984 (the same year I also began), but has grown hugely with the popularity of YouTube. It's worth Googling things such as 'TED education', or there are iPhone apps etc. I digress as this isn't the main point of my blog post.
I came across the above video by Bill Gates and it highlights one of the key problems I have had on numerous occasions during my teaching career. This is the blurb about the video:
"Until recently, many teachers only got one word of feedback a year: “satisfactory.” And with no feedback, no coaching, there’s just no way to improve. Bill Gates suggests that even great teachers can get better with smart feedback -- and lays out a program from his foundation to bring it to every classroom."
I am always willing for people to come to my lessons. Whatever is going on, there is an open door policy and I welcome any member of staff to 'come along for the ride'. However I have never worked in a place where this has been successfully and constructively done.
Even as far back as my PGCE and NQT, I got odd bits and pieces of advice but I want to improve, always. As such speed up the niceties and get on with giving me advice on how to be better. I have also been told by one Section 48 inspector my lesson was 'perfect and nothing could be done to make it better'. Bulls**t.
I'd like to think I am a Good teacher. Some of my lessons are Outstanding, but equally some would be labelled as Requiring Improvement. If we're honest, that's most of us.
I want observations which I can be critically evaluated and given specific advice about how to get better. This is one of my biggest problems with OFSTED, come to my lessons... come every term if you want! But only come if you are willing to tell me how I could have made my lesson better. Give me advice, help me develop.
This is what I am looking to my colleagues to do, particularly my SLT. Please don't just sit there and tell me my lesson was great, tell me how it could be better. Give me new ideas, inspire, get me to try something new!
A new idea from our ACE group is to have an Open Door week. Staff will be encouraged to go into each others lessons to learn from one another; we need a culture shift in my school as there is a fear about having visitors. We are starting by getting people to give some informal positive feedback to the individual and then write something positive on the whiteboard in the staff room about what they've seen (and take a chocolate as their reward!).
We spend so long talking about feedback for students, but teachers need feedback too; Bill Gates is absolutely spot on. Hattie makes it very clear feedback works very well for our students, how about for our teachers too?