Lesson Judgements or Not?

So, thinking a little bit more through lesson observations……there is the debate going on at the moment over whether there is merit on grading observations.

I have always believed on giving good quality feedback that is rich in narrative, explaining the strengths of the lesson as well as discussing the next steps. This is critical to the follow-up feedback, allowing the teacher to fully understand what the observer thought was done well and the things that they thought needed to be improved upon. A grade cannot explain the detail of the lesson, but I do not know any school where the only feedback is in the form of a number or other grading judgement. Even Ofsted, when they used to be asked for personal feedback, would give explanation for their judgements.

However, as a teacher I always wanted to know where my lessons sat between good and outstanding. Being used to that system, I don’t know if I would be satisfied with just a narrative and not a final overall assessment of the lesson. I’m sure if I were to ask the teachers at school what they would prefer, they would say that they like to have both the narrative feedback discussion as well as an overall grade.

As a headteacher, being able to distinguish between the percentages of teachers who fall between certain grade descriptors can be helpful but it is not necessary. Though, knowing teachers fall into particular categories helps you to clearly distinguish who the most effective teachers are in school who you can utilise to ‘mentor’ and ‘coach’ newer or less confident teachers.

It would be interesting to hear what other people are thinking about in regards to grade descriptors? How do you envision observations without final judgements? What would the impact or benefit of changing the current system be?

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