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    Hello all!

    I'm applying for a maths PGCE in October and so I've arranged some observations in a secondary school. I have my first observation day tomorrow and just wondered if anyone had any advice?

    I work as a maths TA in a college at the moment and as such, I have offered to be more hands on during the observation (I.e. I'm happy to move around and help out in the class or with admin tasks) The observation was arranged through one of the teachers I work with who used to work at this school and I know she's vouched for my ability, so I'm expecting they will take me up on this for at least some of the lessons.

    The school have been really helpful so far, they have assigned the NQT teacher to look after me for the week and she's drawn up a timetable to include a range of lessons from different year groups and abilities and they are looking into me shadowing an SEN pupil for the day to see different departments and how they behave in the different lessons. On Thursday they have an INSET day and I might be able to join in on some of the training or see more of the administrative side. I have 5 days in this school and hopefully 5 days in another local school (they said I could come in but to wait till after the GCSE to arrange dates and they haven't replied to my email yet - little stressful haha).

    I got sent a list of things to look out for (I'll post that below if anyone is interested) by my early engagement advisor, but is there any other tips anyone could offer? Even if it's the more practical side of how you made notes or whatever? I've put those questions into a word document with space to fill out answers to make the note making a little easier and I've spent tonight making some notes on the school day and key policies and such.

    I might be overthinking the whole thing, but I've never done an observation before and I don't want to go more into my "TA mode" and so miss out on key observations or something.

    Thank you all for your help!
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    The list of things to look out for that I was sent:

    How the teacher starts the lesson – what does the lesson plan look like,
    What are the components of the lesson plan?
    What are ‘learning objectives’ or ‘learning outcomes’ are they the same and how are they communicated to students?
    What is the teacher doing at various stages of the lesson? Why?
    How does the teacher use voice and non-verbal forms of communication? How effective are these?
    What activities take place in lessons – are there different activities or are all students doing the same? Why?
    Has learning taking place, how do you know, how does the teacher know?
    What is the role of any other staff that assist the teacher and students in the classroom?
    What evidence is there of students being positively ‘challenged’ and ‘stretched’?
    How does the lesson content compare with your expectations?
    What have you seen about the ‘management of behaviour’?
    Do you think there is a relationship between management of behaviour and the lesson plan?
    Does the teacher stick to the lesson plan? If not, why not?
    What resources are used and how effective is their use? How do you know?
    How is the lesson ‘completed’?
    The ‘typical’ daily routine - registers and timetable
    Teaching groups – mixed-ability classes? Set by ability? Tutor groups?
    Arrangements to support more able and less able student?
    What are the arrangements for setting homework?
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    I'm a primary NQT so I might not be the best person to advise you on this, but that looks like a pretty comprehensive list to me. You might also find it useful to talk to the teacher afterwards about how their assessments from the previous lesson informed their planning/delivery of this one, how they assessed the children's learning against the intended outcomes during this lesson and what their assessment procedures are in general. Take the opportunity to look at their marking too.

    It might also be a good idea to have specific focuses for your observations rather than trying to make notes on every aspect of the lessons. For example, for one lesson, you may want to focus on the teacher's use of questioning. Do they use questions to recap prior learning? Do they target questions to involve and deepen the learning of children of all attainments? For another lesson, your focus might be solely on behaviour management, including how they gained the class' attention, their use of positive reinforcement through praise/rewards and what they did if a child wasn't paying attention or behaving accordingly etc.

    I didn't really do a lot of note-taking prior to or during my PGCE to be perfectly honest simply because I knew that I would never look at them again. If you are a person who is in the habit of referring back to notes then of course do take comprehensive notes, but if you are not, you may be wasting your time by noting down everything. I absorbed a lot by simply watching, participating and then making brief notes about any interesting resources and approaches used. I found that making detailed notes about aspects such as the setting of homework was not a great use of time because it's usually dictated by school policy so as a teacher you simply do as you are told to do by the school. Of course if there was a great website the teacher was using to source homework activities, I did make a note of that.
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    (Original post by EvaStarshine)
    The list of things to look out for that I was sent:

    How the teacher starts the lesson – what does the lesson plan look like,
    What are the components of the lesson plan?
    What are ‘learning objectives’ or ‘learning outcomes’ are they the same and how are they communicated to students?
    What is the teacher doing at various stages of the lesson? Why?
    How does the teacher use voice and non-verbal forms of communication? How effective are these?
    What activities take place in lessons – are there different activities or are all students doing the same? Why?
    Has learning taking place, how do you know, how does the teacher know?
    What is the role of any other staff that assist the teacher and students in the classroom?
    What evidence is there of students being positively ‘challenged’ and ‘stretched’?
    How does the lesson content compare with your expectations?
    What have you seen about the ‘management of behaviour’?
    Do you think there is a relationship between management of behaviour and the lesson plan?
    Does the teacher stick to the lesson plan? If not, why not?
    What resources are used and how effective is their use? How do you know?
    How is the lesson ‘completed’?
    The ‘typical’ daily routine - registers and timetable
    Teaching groups – mixed-ability classes? Set by ability? Tutor groups?
    Arrangements to support more able and less able student?
    What are the arrangements for setting homework?
    Sound advise that. But remember - Good teacher = Lesson structure tight and focus on the plan. Outstanding teach = learning tight and focus on the learner.

    I have secured a place this September for Computer Science but I am yet to see a formal lesson plan over and above a bunch of overhead slides setting out class objectives with worksheets etc. However, the outstanding lessons are still clear to see.
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    (Original post by EvaStarshine)
    Hello all!

    I'm applying for a maths PGCE in October and so I've arranged some observations in a secondary school. I have my first observation day tomorrow and just wondered if anyone had any advice?

    I work as a maths TA in a college at the moment and as such, I have offered to be more hands on during the observation (I.e. I'm happy to move around and help out in the class or with admin tasks) The observation was arranged through one of the teachers I work with who used to work at this school and I know she's vouched for my ability, so I'm expecting they will take me up on this for at least some of the lessons.

    The school have been really helpful so far, they have assigned the NQT teacher to look after me for the week and she's drawn up a timetable to include a range of lessons from different year groups and abilities and they are looking into me shadowing an SEN pupil for the day to see different departments and how they behave in the different lessons. On Thursday they have an INSET day and I might be able to join in on some of the training or see more of the administrative side. I have 5 days in this school and hopefully 5 days in another local school (they said I could come in but to wait till after the GCSE to arrange dates and they haven't replied to my email yet - little stressful haha).

    I got sent a list of things to look out for (I'll post that below if anyone is interested) by my early engagement advisor, but is there any other tips anyone could offer? Even if it's the more practical side of how you made notes or whatever? I've put those questions into a word document with space to fill out answers to make the note making a little easier and I've spent tonight making some notes on the school day and key policies and such.

    I might be overthinking the whole thing, but I've never done an observation before and I don't want to go more into my "TA mode" and so miss out on key observations or something.

    Thank you all for your help!
    My one piece of advice would be... "TA mode" can happen, if you are doing a full day observation, choose a lesson where to will sit down at the side of the room and 'not move during the lesson' i.e. choose a lesson not to TA at all in (still look at work, talk to kids etc) but its a useful experience after being in that "mode" for a job for a while. Can be out of subject, but it is not as useful.
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    Chat to the students. Ask them what they've learned and what lessons are usually like.
    An observation is just a snapshot of a learning journey, after all.

    Pick an aspect of teaching to observe - you won't be able to focus on everything at once.
    Look at behaviour: the way the teacher manages it, but also pick three students to monitor their behaviour at different points in the lesson.
    Look at assessment - how does the teacher assess prior knowledge, how do they assess progress throughout? How does the teacher know the objective has been met?
    Look at the structure of the lesson - can you see distinct elements that constitute a plan? How does the teacher guide the learning?
    Listen to the language used, look at the way support is given, how is the TA deployed, what about resources?

    But remember at this point, pre-PGCE, you are getting a flavour for teaching. What do you see that you like? What other responsibilities does the teacher have? How long does planning take? What are parents like? Why did they get into teacher? What else do you want to know about teaching?
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    (Original post by ByEeek)
    However, the outstanding lessons are still clear to see.
    Is that so?

    http://cem.org/blog/414/
 
 
 
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