January 3, 2017 by Doug Napolitano-Cremin
I am incredibly lucky to work within a fantastic faculty, surrounded by incredible teachers. Just over a year ago I became acutely aware that there was very little opportunity for the 15 teachers within our faculty to learn from each other. We have tried to set time aside in faculty meetings to share ideas, produced a newsletter each week, but one of the systems we are trying to develop that I am most passionate about is our ‘Green-Slip Peer Observations’.
The idea is incredibly simple. As an individual teacher, if I have a lesson and leave my classroom door open, that is a signal for anyone else in the faculty to come in and observe. The observing teacher can stay for as little or as long as they want. The pay-back to the teacher being observed is that they are left with a green slip with three positive comments about what has been seen and one ‘something to think about’.
The aims of the open-door policy are to:
- Have the opportunity to learn from each other.
- Give a colleague some positive feedback.
- Break down the fear of being observed.
- Spread best practice across the faculty.
One of the biggest issues with the system during the time it has been running so far is the uneven distribution of people who have been observed and those who have been doing the observing. All subject HoDs and 2ics within the faculty have observed a number of people and have expressed how much they have learned and how fantastic it has been to see so much good teaching and learning taking place. Those staff however who do not have responsibilities but do have heavy teaching-loads have been observed numerous times but have not completed many, if any, observations themselves.
I am not entirely sure how to solve this issue currently. When discussing the reasons with teachers in the faculty the most common reason has been a lack of time. One possible solution I am going to try is to offer to cover one lesson for any colleague a half-term to enable them to have that opportunity to complete some observations.
In the long-term, I have discussed with other Heads of Faculty across the school the possibility of completing these types of observations across subjects. We will take stock around Easter, assess the impact within the faculty and then plan future developments.