Why wait to be told you need to change your practice, when you can do it yourself?
For generations of teachers, the three yearly lesson observations have been stressful, confusing and unproductive. I have done my share of observations, piling feedback upon advice upon opinion. I hope much of what I said was true, but I doubt much of it was helpful.
And all along I believed that teachers only develop when they develop themselves. However, it is difficult to get an accurate picture of your own teaching. If you prefer to take responsibility for your own development, I have some advice.
I recommend starting with evidence that doesn’t move – your students’ work and your marking. There is no shortage of research evidence on the impact of feedback (see here and here). I have pulled this advice together to make a marking MOT sheet (here – please feel free to use. I’d be grateful for feedback).
Next, think about your students’ progress. It’s no good making judgements on the quality of each individual lesson if you don’t know whether your students are learning anything. I wrote a blog on quick and simple proxies for progress (here). You need to do a couple of quick assessments to see what has been learnt. If they aren’t learning, teach differently.
If you are still keen to get feedback on your actual teaching style, it’s time to ask the experts. Obviously I mean your students. Your kids know pretty much what you do well; they are usually honest and fair. More honest than you might like, but fair. I’ve used the Gates Foundation’s MET Project questions (here) and found them useful.
I’ve never found videoing lessons any use (who can stand watching themselves closely for an hour?) Supportive peer observations are often brilliant, but who’s got the time? I suppose you could ask your headteacher too. It’s their school after all.
I believe that teacher professionalism demands that teachers take control of their own self assessment and development. I hate to see intelligent, thoughtful professionals waiting to be told whether they are successful or not, as though an observation were some kind of roulette game. If you don’t know for certain whether your teaching is effective, work it out for yourself.