Student lesson observations: Are you brave enough?
Would you let a student observe your lesson and feedback on your teaching practice? Many teachers would shudder at the idea. But some schools are doing this as part of their programme to improve teaching and learning. I discovered this when I came across an article “Fresh Perspectives” written by Liz Lightfoot in the ASCL Leader magazine last July.
The idea of using students for lesson observations has become a central part of the professional development programmes in some schools. These are schools that have a culture of involving students in their learning and engaging them to this level was almost a natural step. They overcame the concerns of inappropriate comments and personal remarks in feedback by ensuring that the student observers had thorough training and understand the importance of confidentiality and codes of conduct.
This would not work in all schools, common sense makes this clear as does Liz Lightfoot in her article, however where it can work it provides a fantastic fresh perspective on lesson observations. Students give a different outlook on teaching because as the learners they are the consumers. It seems odd that the consumer is not regularly asked their opinion of the teaching they receive as you would with any other service.
Student observers are not always the A* students, but come from all ability groups and walks of life. This involves all students and moves away from the type of elitism that is sometimes found when it is only the ‘clever’ kids who get this type of opportunity. As well as engaging student in teaching and learning further, it provides great skills for later life.
If you’re working in a school that has a culture of involving students in teaching and learning why not try it out? Not all teachers will buy into the idea but if there are a group of you who see the benefits then give it a go. If you’re an IRIS school you could even allow students to observe the lesson remotely, add time linked notes and feedback without altering the dynamics of your classroom.