What do Outstanding lessons look like?

Another attempt to grapple with OfSTED criteria and to match them to our observations of excellent teaching at KEGS.

When you see an Outstanding lesson, these things are likely to be happening….

ALL students  are actively engaged and challenged…e.g.

  • simple think/pair/share discussion is routine
  • structured group work where everyone has a role is being used
  • students are working individually but all are busy, stretched, on task

DIFFERENTIATION is explicit, where additional challenge or support is needed for specific individuals (links to the ALL students idea above…)

Challenge and rigour are modelled continually…. E.g

  • questioning is probing, looking for further detail, deeper understanding, more extended responses and so on:  ‘how do you know?’, ‘could you put that another way?’, ‘what is the connection between those two ideas?’ etc
  • the language of the subject is modelled explicitly  and students are expected to produce answers that use correct terminology in context…
  • tasks are inherently challenging, multi-layered, synoptic etc….

There is Clarity of purpose and students understand the short and long term learning goals

  • any student can tell you what they are trying to learn in the lesson and over the current series of lessons
  • tasks are planned to enable the learning goals to be met – ie they are not just doing a task without really knowing why.

AfL practice is richly embedded

  • exemplar material and/or success criteria are used to model the expected standards
  • feedback strategies are employed that feel well rehearsed –whether it is using whiteboads, peer assessment, whole class plenary-style questioning, acting on feedback from marking and so on….
  • the teacher responds and adapts the lesson or questioning in response to the feedback from students.

What are the pitfalls? What is happening when lessons are satisfactory or inadequate?

  • Any number of students are not doing any work, not answering questions, not writing, not joining in etc – ie not making any progress at all.  This could be because the teacher is talking for far too long, only asking a few students to respond, (standard hands up, one at a time…..)
  • Behaviour impedes learning and you are not seeking to address it effectively – this would include low level persistent talking or not noticing a student who coasts, stops or engages in off-task activity.
  • The work is far too easy or too difficult for any number of students in the class (if your data suggests a range of ability and all students are doing exactly the same thing, it raises an immediate question.)
  • You do not challenge students to give answers of the appropriate standard and appear to accept or reinforce low standards
  • The purpose of a task is not clear so students end up doing a task without understanding the learning goals overall…..
  • Health and Safety protocols are not being followed.

Tom Sherrington

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