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Improving learning through effective lesson observation and professional dialogue

Karen Spence-Thomas London Centre for Leadership in Learning Institute of Education

Aims To explore: • the purposes of lesson observation • how a coaching approach can enhance the culture around lesson observation so that it makes a sustained difference to adult practice and pupil outcomes. To develop skills in: • evaluating teaching and learning • coaching in the context of a post-observation conversation.

‘Skilfully done, classroom observation can be a valuable tool for improving the quality of teaching; badly handled, it can be a menace.’ Wragg, E.C. (1994) An Introduction to Classroom Observation. 2nd Ed (2002). London: Routledge

What do you bring? • In pairs, discuss your experiences of observing lessons and being observed.

• What’s your current role in relation to lesson observation?





Watkins, C (2010) Learning, Performance and Improvement in Research Matters (34). London : IOE.

John Hattie ‘The more the student becomes the teacher and the more the teacher becomes the learner, then the more successful are the outcomes.’ How can we create the conditions that support learning around lesson observation? Hattie, J (2009) Visible Learning: A Synthesis of over 800 Meta-analyses Relating to Achievement. London: Routledge.

Observing learning What does great learning look like when it’s taking place?  What are they thinking?  What might they say?  What does they know (about…how to…)?  What are they doing?  What are they hearing?  What are they seeing?  What are they feeling?

Observing teaching What teacher actions promote great learning? • • • • •

What is she saying? What is she thinking? What is she doing? What does she know? What does she understand? • What is she seeing? • What is she hearing? • What is she feeling?

 Learning is the human process of creating meaning from experience  Simply having an experience is not enough for someone to learn  Without reflecting upon this experience it may quickly be forgotten or its learning potential lost.

Chris Watkins, Learning about Learning.

Evaluating teaching and learning

• Consider Quality of Teaching section of the School Inspection Handbook (September 2012).

• Similarities? Surprises? Thoughts?

A practical activity (1) • Make a narrative record of what you see and hear.

• Focus on pupils – are they actively engaged and learning? What tells you this? • Also focus carefully on what the teacher’s doing to promote learning. • How does this feel? What impact will it have on your post-lesson dialogue?

Creating mental maps What is coaching? What are the values and beliefs that underpin it?

Values and beliefs underpinning coaching • The way forward in a coaching process already exists in the coachee not the coach • Coach’s role is to enable people to surface, clarify their ideas - raise their awareness and opportunities for self direction and choice. • As the coachee surfaces one idea, this allows another to rise up in their minds – like taking plates from a rising stack.

Adding plates Risk of adding your own ideas as coach (putting back plates on top of the stack) is that that will prevent others in the coachee from rising up (Rosinski 2003)

• What is coaching? “Coaching is the process of unlocking a person’s potential to maximise their performance. It is about helping them learn rather than teaching them” (Whitmore) “The coach enables the other person to get from where they are to where they want or need to be” (LCLL) “Coaching enables the other person to move towards their own solution. It is not about providing the solutions for them”

Skills & techniques to use when coaching‌..

? Hay/McBer

Skills and techniques to use when coaching‌.. Open – ended questions

Maintaining silence

Active listening

Initiating action & offering Ideas


Encouraging ownership

Reflecting back


Being sensitive Hay/McBer

Why coaching?

‘...teachers who used peer support for mutual problem solving, observations, collaborative teaching and planning were more successful in transferring new skills to their own practice.’ ‘Coached teachers retained and increased their skill over time – un-coached teachers did not’. Joyce and Showers, 2002. Achievement through Staff Development


GROW model

1. 2. 3. 4.

GOAL: agree purpose and focus REALITY: invite self -assessment OPTIONS: consider all options WRAP–UP: commit to action and agree support

GROW and the post- lesson discussion GOAL:



What do we want to achieve today? What did you want to achieve in this lesson? Talk me through the story of the lesson (first part of‌) Invite self assessment What might you have done differently / do differently next time? What will your next steps and actions be? By when? What support might you need?

Practical activity (2) Now return to your observation notes.

In pairs, prepare how you will approach the post-lesson learning conversation. What will you aim to achieve? What key phrases will you use to develop the conversation?

Sample questions

How would you rate the level of challenge across the lesson as a whole?

What I think you are saying is‌ Does that seem right?

Š London Centre for Leadership in Learning

From professional learning to professional development

• What action will you take as a result of today? • Who will you work with – what support will you need?

Improving learning through effective lesson observation and professional dialogue  
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