by Alveena Salim

.Is a time when senior management comes into teachers classrooms for 45minutes and makes a judgment about their competence as teachers..

I was graded ‘outstanding’ on a lesson today.

Am I an outstanding teacher? No. I’m pretty realistic when it comes to my strengths and weaknesses…yeah, I take pride in the progress of my children, I try to make lessons fun, engaging and stimulating for the children most of the times and I enjoy what I do…however, an ‘outstanding’ teacher doesn’t leave school at 3.30pm, an ‘outstanding’ teacher doesn’t think about what she is gonna teach, 10min before the start of the lesson…and an ‘outstanding’ teacher DOES spend her evenings, weekends and holidays marking and preparing lessons…

One thing I do know is how to prepare for lesson observations.

I learnt the hard way about inconsistencies when it comes to teacher observations. Everyone’s different so naturally they all will be looking for something different.

I was once observed by someone who specializes in special needs children…I made sure the special needs children led the lesson.

I was once observed by someone who was pretty old school in his ways…so I threatened the class with detention for a week and made them answer 20 questions in silence.

Once this 60’s hippie type of lecturer observed me, so I did an art/music lesson, lighted some candles and got the children to make marks on the paper in response to the music they hear…then I made a big deal out of their scribbles and talked about their ‘feelings’

A lecturer who was passionate about Ethnic Minority Children observed me once. I donned a Sari.

Today’s lesson was different because there was no pressure. Unlike the past two years, I knew that today’s lesson would not affect my career in any major way. I had already passed my teachers training course and I had passed my induction year…I also had a cold so I wasn’t feeling myself….that’s why my lesson was a disaster from the beginning.

The kids were not motivated or engaged at all. It was my fault. The work was too difficult for them.

I had one kid trying to teach others how to do the “Carlton dance.” Another table, were doing the “Monkey dance”… one child was trying to stab another child with a ruler cos “he’s stupid and was getting all his work wrong”

I muddled through the lesson and then walked through into the heads office with a red face.

She asked me how I thought the lesson went….I knew better than to shed light on incidences that I hoped she hadn’t noticed.

Fortunately for me, she hadn’t noticed anything and graded me outstanding. Wow.

So, what have I learnt? Sometimes I get lucky. Sometimes it isn’t even about competence….however, always prepare a lesson …even if it is a ‘arty/feel the music/scribbles’ lesson.