There’s only one of you…

Many teachers will have experienced the phenomenon of putting hours of work into doing an observed lesson, hopefully it going well (or possibly not), and then thinking, ‘well how do I do that every day?’

Indeed, one of the most telling questions for an observer to ask is, ‘are your lessons usually like this?’ - I know from experience of observing colleagues, to find good practice to share, that students almost always say no. So, what’s the point of doing a lesson that is rarely recreated day-to-day?

There isn’t any.

I have a one-hour limit to planning observed lessons.

How is this possible? Well the answer could be jigsaw lessons.

Here’s an example. I was observed on a lesson where students had to write a long answer to a six-mark exam question. I did no real front of class teaching. There were four aspects required in the answer, students were in groups of four.

One student from each group had to go to a different station and learn each part of the required knowledge. They then had to teach each other the material in their group.  Following this they individually wrote their answers to the six-mark exam question, and later peer assessed each other’s work based on the extra knowledge some had and improved their own answers.

I basically did nothing in the lesson except facilitate and assist groups here and there.

The observer knowingly wandered to a group towards the end and said, ‘so, are your lessons usually like this?’. ‘Yes’, replied the student, ‘we have to do this loads, we have to do all the work’. ‘Oh’ replied the surprised observer.

How much preparation time? Prepare a six-mark question, lay some text books around at the right pages, identify the four parts of the question that need answering. Easy - 20 mins.

You can tailor this approach to your classes, have the groups in ability and teach the lower ones or have them mixed and have the students each.

Getting the kids trained up over weeks in a collaborative style of working, is much more time effective and will have far more of an impact over time on your classes then the “observed lesson.”