So you’ve had the call from Ofsted and the countdown has begun.
Rather than spending a whole weekend preparing “special lessons” for observations which may not even happen, it’s worth thinking about each of the points below and how you normally embed these in your day-to-day teaching. Observers can usually tell when a lesson veers away from the usual format, so it should be business as usual as far as your teaching goes.
The headings below summarise the key characteristics for outstanding teaching, learning and assessment:
This is the acid test for an effective lesson. Think about how to develop your learners’ awareness of how much they have learned within a session. Plan for a diagnostic and plenary task as a routine, so as to make it evident to them and to you what progress they have made.
Think about what motivates your learners. Make plenty of connections between lesson content and their future careers or aspirations. Let your own passion for your subject shine through. You are a strong role model for them. Examples from your own experience are memorable and powerful motivators for learners.
3. Assessment and feedback
Check learning regularly and in a variety of ways. Ensure your questioning is inclusive, with all learners given opportunities to answer. Whether verbal or written, ensure your feedback is accurate, timely and clear. Give learners time to correct their work during sessions and build in opportunities for self and peer assessment.
4. High aspirations
Set all learners challenging targets and foster an environment where mistakes are seen as opportunities to learn.
Inspectors won’t expect to see your lesson documentation, but the quality of your lesson design will be evident from the learning that takes place.
Include a range of stimulating resources. If using ICT, then make sure you have a back-up and that it is really having an impact on learning, rather than just being a “fun” way to engage your group.
7. Equality & Diversity
Strike a balance between a) valuing the diversity of learners in your class, e.g. by using examples which reflect their backgrounds, age and experiences and b) broadening their horizons, e.g. by challenging stereotypes and including images which reflect people and communities beyond their experiences.
8. English, maths and ICT
These should be promoted wherever possible in your teaching. Take opportunities to develop these, rather than just embedding them, e.g. Learners keep lists of technical terms from the subject, labelled as nouns, verbs or adjectives. If learners are calculating percentages, review the different ways this can be done with them. If you are lacking confidence in your own English, Maths or ICT skills, then encourage the learners to teach you.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember during an Ofsted inspection, is that your learners still come first. Keep life as normal as possible for them and this will help you to stay calm during a potentially stressful week.