4. Observations and moving goal posts.
Observation. Learning walk. Book scrutiny. Planning scrutiny. The words just send a shiver down my spine.
I understand and appreciate that it is part of the job and there has be a degree of accountability for teachers but in my current school every aspect of one’s teaching was put under microscopic analysis and dissected. This is understandable but problems and dissent arose when the criteria against which we were being judged would change, not only from month to month but week to week and even day to day. It became fairly difficult to keep up with what we were expected to do, seeing was what we were expected to do was constantly in a state of flux.
- At the start of the year it was insisted that we focus strongly on continuous provision (primary speak for an ‘early years style’ approach), allowing children continual freeflow access to different areas of the curriculum. In one of my observations the feedback even included ‘ensure children have continual access to all areas of the curriculum’). A lot of energy was expended by the team working on the continual provision before it was decreed that we needed to take a more formal approach and essentially drop it (but still retain the look of it, in case OFSTED visit).
- The whole school got hammered on progress demonstrated in the children’s books, so the suggested advice was that we focus on small, demonstrable steps of progress in the children’s work. Following this, one group did an activity where they cut and stuck labels for a non-fiction report. The following day they applied the skills to write their own labels. This may sound low level but was an achievement for the specific group and targeted perfectly for their ability level. The feedback was that the children were not showing enough progress in their work.
- I was supported by a teacher from another school, to help me with my planning. As she was a good practitioner and my school were keen for me to learn from her and employ similar strategies with regards to pace, for example, I copied her planning structure and delivery, pretty much wholesale but still made it my own. The feedback from that observation was that the planning still required more detail and the delivery required more pace.
So, maybe I just sound like a ranting old moaner but as I experienced examples 2 & 3 (which came in very close succession) I came to realise that it was fairly clear that I was unable to provide school with, either what they want or what they need, mainly because they were not sure themselves.
Part 5 of 5 to follow soon. Then some more lighter hearted stuff!
Have you experienced something similar? What did you do? I welcome any thoughts in the comments.