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The Art of Observing

observe and report

Seeing is believing

Being able to observe good teaching and learning is an art! It’s something that comes with practice. There are a number of obstacles in the way of becoming a good observer. And that includes the huge Ofsted criteria list.

Clipboard with pencilRadical thought

Ignore the list! Not completely, but certainly when you are in the lesson observing teaching and learning! Dump the photocopy of the the Ofsted criteria you undoubtedly have, on A3 paper probably, just so it all fits!

Use my alternative instead.

Remember why you’re observing


You see, as with so many things (like data), things are often done in an overly complicated way simply because we’ve always done it that way and we think using everything will give us the best results. That’s wrong!

Think about the ultimate goal of observing…Improving teaching! That’s it! Observe, see what’s good, observe what’s not good and use that to help you design areas to improve and targets!

Bin the Ofsted Criteria

Now you’ve gone back to what you want as your outcome then you can look at how most effectively the Ofsted criteria can serve you when observing, and it serves you best by not being there as a distraction!

My guide to observing

Feedback-SessionDiscuss in advance the aims and objectives of observing (it should be part of a bigger process, coaching, mentoring, line management) and then when observing, use this much simpler guide to help you document what you see and more effectively observe, feedback and help create purposeful targets for improvement.

The ‘easy observation sheet’ is based upon what an outstanding lesson needs, taken from Ofsted criteria. However, it is designed to help the observer and the observed to improve teaching practice in a meaningful way, so that later, when the Ofsted criteria is more rigidly applied, teaching has significantly improved!

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Links seem to be unable to work in Safari at moment – please try Firefox as this has been checked and works for downloading resources.

DOWNLOAD THE RESOURCE HERE ‘easy observation sheet’

Download Version two here: observation sheets

Download version three here: observation sheet v3

What do you think? Will this make your observations easier? Clearer? More effective?



    • Just double checked and it downloads, try reloading page, let me know if still no luck or follow and DM me your email on twitter for me to send to u

  1. Have checked links this morning – looks like a Safari issue as links work in Firefox but not Safari, until I can solve the issue please let me know if in Firefox the download is a problem.

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