Sunday 16 October 2011

First NQT Observation

This week I had my first official observation. As an NQT, I'm qualified to teach but I'm sort of on probation, so someone in the department has to check up on me and make sure I'm teaching well. There are also some standards that NQTs have to gain evidence towards, to prove that passing their PGCE wasn't a fluke, I suppose. My school has its own set of NQT expectations, like I have to organise a school trip, run an after school club, and be a co-tutor. I'm dreading that first one, although I know exactly where I'd go. Luckily there's a free museum within walking distance of my school. Sadly it happens to be perhaps the most boring museum in the UK (in my opinion) but the kids may like it.

Anyway, my observation. My mentor watched me with one class but his feedback I think applies to every class I teach so I don't need to give you any background or even describe the lesson. Here is the feedback we discussed:

My Strengths:

* Good relationships with pupils, good way of talking to pupils one on one and adapting my language to suit them. It's obvious that pupils like me and see me as nice, kind and friendly.

* Good questioning skills - I used more open questions than closed, and encouraged higher-order thinking and meta-cognition. I encouraged pupils to develop their literacy by getting them to explain some concepts in their own words.

*Good use of praise - I praised pupils a lot and not just general praise but specific, using names.

My Areas for Development:

* Use time constraints on exercises. Even if it's a long one, I should say you have to have done the first two questions in 7 minutes or whatever. This should give my lessons tighter pace. I can definitely see how this would help me with another group I teach, who are so slow and lazy when it comes to starting.

* Don't just ensure no one's talking before talking, but also ensure they're all listening - there's a difference!

* Develop peripheral vision and if possible eyes on the back of my head. This is difficult for me as even the eyes on the front of my head don't work particularly well! But I'll try.

* Limit the noise of the class when they're doing individual work. I should stop the class completely, tell them the noise is too high, then start them again, and repeat this. Pick out individuals who are talking and give them DTs. Don't worry too much about being fair.

After me and my mentor talked about the lesson I felt quite positive. I haven't really thought about my strengths since my PGCE. Although I'm a positive person, it's so easy to only think about your weaknesses, because I see them as the things that matter most, as you need to think how to improve them. It was nice to have someone tell me explicitly: you're good at this, this and this. I'm also glad my areas for development are things I can actually work on, as they're very specific, although the peripheral vision one I think will take many years to hone.

This week at school the maths department are having a WOW week (Watch Others Work) and I'm really hoping I can have one of my lessons covered so I can go and see an interesting lesson (the only year group I don't teach is year 11, and I'm not excited about seeing a group of unmotivated pupils work through past papers for a lesson). I'd love to see how all the teachers in the department teach and get some good tips.

I hope you all have a good week, and to all those lucky people in Leicestershire who are already on half term, please spare a thought for the rest of us who still have 5 days to get through!

Emma x x x

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