One of the goals of our Social Science department this year has been to encourage more peer observations of lessons. The prospect of having a colleague sit in on a lesson, armed with paper and pen to critique performance, can make a teacher uncomfortable. This is why I prefer to think of these lessons in friendlier terms as ‘classroom visits’. These visits not only offer the teacher greater insight into their teaching practice, they can serve as a source of inspiration for the visiting teacher too.
John Hattie (who introduced the concept of visible learning in his meta study on factors affecting learning outcomes) notes that teachers make the greatest difference to students’ learning. He says that as teachers, we all know what works in the classroom based on our own experience. However, what Hattie would like teachers to ask is – ‘what works better?’
Hattie stresses the importance of knowing thy impact. He says that we miss 80% of what is actually going on in classes during lessons. To get a better picture of the impact we are having on our students, there are a number of methods we could use. Teachers can open up their classrooms to lesson observations. Exit tickets – whereby students provide feedback on what they have learned and how they experienced the lesson can also be useful. Whatever method(s) we choose, the important thing is to find out what is going on.
As Hattie says, “The teachers that have the greatest impact continually and collaboratively evaluate their impact.”