10 top tips for NQT observation survival

Sept. 21, 2018

You’re a good few weeks into your first teaching position and are very much still learning to get to grips with EVERYTHING! You have an imminent observation coming up and you still don’t know exactly how you should make this an ‘all singing, all dancing’ lesson to wow your children and amaze your observers.

Well, don’t worry. These top tips for NQTs will support you in getting the outcomes you expect.

1) You don't need an ‘all singing, all dancing’ lesson

Aim to demonstrate a lesson that effectively demonstrates good progress against an intended objective for all learners. Having additional components within the lesson which can detract from this are just not needed. There's no need to spend 7 hours putting together an augmented reality video which articulates the alien’s visit to the school.

2) Flesh out your weekly plan in the subject being observed

Remember the lesson your observers visit may not be the lesson you initially planned for them to see. For this reason, ensure your lessons are planned meticulously for the week.

3) Know your children

Understanding their gaps and logical next steps will hugely help to ensure you are demonstrating teaching and learning which meets pupils’ needs.

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4) Create a class context sheet

Include information about pupil types i.e. Pupil Premium, educational entitlement, vulnerable etc, and any agreed interventions children have during contact time. Having this in a secure but accessible place for you and your support staff will hugely help you keep up to date with your pupils’ needs. Bring the class context sheet with you during your lesson feedback, as it makes a great reference point when clarifying reasoning for specific decisions.

5) Allow time to share your plans with support staff

Before your observed lesson, give yourself plenty of time to share the lesson intentions and outcomes with your support staff. Make sure they know the weekly plan for the week of the observation and have clear roles for supporting learners.

6) Stay calm and positive

Remember, the people observing you were once in your position, and they want you to succeed.

7) Embrace change

Never be afraid to change something within the lesson if it isn’t quite working.

8) Be reflective

Demonstrate that you are a reflective teacher during your feedback session with your observers. Share carefully what you consider the strengths and the key areas for development are.

9) Be your own teacher

Your not the same person as your peers. Listen to them for sure, but avoid being bogged down with the feedback/suggestions they get from observations. Remember that's their feedback, not yours.

10) All feedback is good feedback

Interpret all feedback you receive as something positive that you can learn from. Don’t dwell on any points you felt may have appeared as negatives.

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Lesson knowledge checklist

Observations can be a nerve-wracking experience for everyone but be clear about the following and you’ll be well on your way to success:

  • What’s the purpose of my lesson?
  • What are the key outcomes for the learners?
  • How will I demonstrate pupil progress?
  • What techniques will I use for engagement?
  • How do my activities meet the needs of my learners?
  • How can I effectively use additional adults throughout?
  • What question techniques will I use to assess learners and move them forward?
  • How will I build on previous learning?