Sunday, 4 June 2017

Detecting Positive Pedagogies

Aside from one visit to Albany Senior High School last year, I hadn't observed any other teachers teaching. I felt because I was co-teaching, I was essentially observing another teacher's practice all the time, and did not spend free periods visiting other teachers. Until recently, I did not think again about observing another teacher. I now feel I have wasted ample opportunities to do so, and in turn better my practice! I have completed two observations this term and reflected on them, taking away different things from each class. 

I first went and observed a student in Science. This student is one of my priority students (students who have been identified as achieving below the expected number of credits). I chose to observe him in Science, because he had achieved credits in this subject, however I was struggling to motivate him to get engaged to complete his tasks in PE, let alone start assessments.

I was surprised by what I observed. Even though from the teacher's perspective he appeared to be daydreaming and off task, he was reading through additional material on the teacher's Science site, while listening to her instructions. When asked to complete his tasks, he did so promptly, especially when the instructions weren't complicated. If there were multiple steps to a task, his engagement reduced. 

I also observed the student asked for help one on one with the teacher, but not in front of his peers. When I asked what he found difficult about learning in Science, he said he is really judgmental of himself, so would rather not write anything, than write something and be wrong. The student suggested to me that he did not have a lack of motivation, but a lack of confidence in himself, and a fear of being wrong. This opened up a great discussion with the student about the importance of challenge, and in order to learn, there will be some hurdles to get over.

After this observation and conversation with the student, I have tried to have more one on one conversations with him, include more group activities (as he expressed this helps his learning and confidence), and give the student words of encouragement/praise when he attempts something new. I am starting to see a positive change in the student's mood and greater engagement in tasks in class! Fingers crossed in turn this will affect his achievement in PE.

Without the recognition of the student as a priority learner, and observing him in Science, I feel this student would still be slouching in his seat at the back of the room looking sad and unenthused about his tasks. So, I am excited to see how he progresses!

Following on from this observation, Cheryl (my PCT facilitator) suggested we complete a observation of an experienced teacher and then discuss our findings from the observation as our fortnightly PCT meeting. I have been having behaviour management difficulties with one of my Year 10 classes, so decided it was best to visit this class in another subject to see what strategies the teacher used. Some of my observations include; the importance of simple instructions, having revision activities, don't try to talk over students (or you will repeat yourself), break down words students may not be familiar with (see more about this in this post), and provide students with opportunities to peer teach.

Moving forward, the final point is what I am going to focus on - attempting to provide opportunities for students to share their knowledge and understanding with their peers. I hope by encouraging students who are more comfortable and confident to 'teach' their peers who are struggling, this supports all students learning. I also think this may help put some content/tasks into jargon which may make more sense for the students!

After these two observations, I have realised the benefit of observing teachers, students, classes, subjects different from my own. I would like to complete an observation of a beginning teacher (any subject), and an experienced teacher in my department next. I found the infographic on this site, which will help me with future observations!


  1. Great blog post Georgia, it really does help to get into a different environment to see learning in a different perspective and reflect on your own practice! Sounds like you have taken a lot from both these experiences so am looking forward to seeing you document how you will have implemented any change into your own teaching!

    1. You are so right - particularly because Health and PE are such specialised subjects, so observing core subjects is a great learning opportunity. I shared a previous post about a revision activity for anatomy (drawing muscles onto overalls). This activity was targeted towards my priority learner, because it was group work and an opportunity for me to discuss the learning with him one on one. I have asked my PCT facilitator for some support with how to facilitate peer teaching, which is the next step in hope to manage behaviour/increase engagement! Fingers crossed I can share some peer teaching instances in the future. Thanks for the comment Heath :)

  2. Hi Georgia,

    So cool to see you posting and your keen interest in professional development. As you've noted, there is so much value in observing others in and out of your own school. With the CoLs starting, it will be easier to get to see what other schools in the local areas are doing and working closer with others.

    Exciting times.

    1. I am interested in the CoLs and what will come out of them! I am looking forward to hearing about the leaders inquiries too. Hope you're doing well, you're in a school with great opportunities!


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