5 tips for outstanding lesson

5 tips for outstanding lesson


5 tips for outstanding lesson

Here are 5 tips for outstanding lesson, when that dreaded announcement is made during a staff briefing about an up-coming lesson observation i’m sure you’re thinking ‘how can I knock out an outstanding lesson?” We all know the repercussions; more frequent drop in observations, closer book scrutiny and making you feel rather paranoid. Which in turn means that you can not at your peak performance.

My 5 tips for outstanding lesson

  1. Always deliver lessons as if someone is actually observing you.
  2. Mark books with ‘next step comments’ or whatever the equivalent is in your school.
  3. Refer to blooms taxonomy and use it to generate questions e.g. How do you know that 1/5 of 35 is 7?
  4. Keep up the pace.
  5. Try and incorporate a few different activities which meet the learning objective.

When an observer walks into your room give them every chance to slot you into the outstanding bracket before you have even opened your mouth. I learned quickly that an outstanding first five minutes is essential. In real life, as in inspections, first impressions really count.

Of course every senior leader, inspector or advisor who watches you teach will tell you that they wait until the end of the observation until they reach their judgment. Don’t believe it. They will select their criteria band within the first five minutes and then sculpt their commentary around this band.

Instead of reaching for “starters” and gimmicky ways to try and impress the inspector think about what is going to fully engage your students. What is the curiosity that you provoke, the responsibilities you delegate or the surprise that you reveal.

There are thousands of outstanding teachers who are branded “good” because the level of risk they, for good reason, refuse to take big risks in observed lessons.

Great routines well rehearsed and mean that you can appear to be taking a huge risk when you are actually treading a well worn path.

Do you have an agreed signal and routine for moving the classroom around in 10 seconds, a really well structured and clearly displayed routine for peer assessment or self organised group work? Can these rituals be initiated even if the inspector metamorphosises in the cupboard and springs into your lesson half way through?

It is these well rehearsed and drilled routines that will further convince the inspector that you have a seem of excellence that runs through your teaching DNA. Even better if you can instigate a 10 minute peer assessment or focused five minute self reflection silently, at the drop of a hat or blow of the whistle.

Weave learning objectives into the lesson so that they cannot be resisted. Many children have learned that they can get away with doing little if they remember the learning objectives from the start of the lesson and then parrot them back at the end. Your objectives must become theirs. In thought and deed. Ask students to create icons that represent the objectives, keep a rolling list/map of objectives on the wall so that everyone can see progression, positively reinforce use of objective specific terminology in discussion/Q+A and ask them to relate a moment of learning to one objective as you stand at the door at the end of the lesson.

Of course the inspection game is also one that children have become experts at playing. They are now well rehearsed in what to say to the inspection team “Oh yes there is always a fine balance of formative assessment, self organised learning and teacher delivery in this class!”, they understand that their teacher is under the microscope and even with some of the toughest classes there is a sense of “we are with you today Sir… do you want me to sort him out?”. The change in the children’s behaviour when the inspection team arrive is palpable. You are not performing alone but have others to play supportive cameos.

When the inspector calls there may be no longer be time for lengthy preparation but there is always time to pull a few rabbits from the hat.


These are my 5 tips and advice, what are yours? Share below.

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