Observer Briefing Session – 25th January 2013

Thank you to everyone who attended the Observer Training Session last Friday.

Please find below various information and documents that were used in the session


1. WE will know how effective and creative use of learning technologies can enhance student learning.

2. WE will know how to provide specific and effective feedback that supports teachers to improve their professional practice.

Creative Use of Learning Technologies

Keith Tellum

Introduction to SAMR model from Jenny Luca

The video above introducing the SAMR model is from Doug Belshaw and also includes Boyer’s model of scholarship.

The table below is a list of TEL used by members of staff at LCC compiled from lesson observations, TEL Passport and Twitter posts. I showed this to the Digital Leaders at the last meeting to see how many any of them had seen in use – the highest was 6.

e-Resources used at LCC

Questions & responses

Resources Used (Yes, No)
TwitterCan be used with a ‘hashtag’ for discussion e.g #lcclearn21c is used by the LIMs
PolleverywhereMultiple choice questions can be set – answers appear on website
WallwisherOnline post-it notes
ActiveInspireProvides an electronic flipchart for Interactive Whiteboards – can also be used with a projector to provide some feedback. Can be used with voting pads.
SocrativeTeachers can set up a ‘room’ where students answer questions, polls etc using their mobiles.
TextwallCan set questions to be answered via mobile. Will collate most common responses into a ‘Word Cloud’ via Wordle.

Collecting & organising information/ planning

Resources Used (Yes/No)
PoppletCollaborative online posts – creates a colourful pinboard
PearlTreesLinks resources in a ‘tree’ structure – handy for large amounts of connected information.
Mindmaps (and online mindmaps)Create a non-linear series of connected notes and points. Online mindmaps can be collaborative
RSS feedsRegularly update information from sites
SpicynodesWeb-based tool allowing a mindmap-like structure

Blogs/social collaboration for projects

Resources Used (Yes/No)
Google SitesEasily set up if you have a Gmail account
PinterestPin board, often used for fashion/shopping information
FacebookOften used to keep in touch with students on educational visits


Resources Used (Yes/No)
YouTubeNow allows comments and editing
Popcorn MakerNew resource from Firefox, allows editing and comments


Resources Used (Yes/No)

Mobile learning

Resources Used (Yes/No)
Mobile phones
QR codes
Augmented Reality

Classroom Management

Resources Used (Yes/No)
AB Tutor
Class Dojo

Effective Feedback

Howard Prezi


YouTube Clip

We did not have time to talk about feedback in great detail. The issue of accurate and focused  feedback from observers is a key to helping practitioners improve classroom practice following an observation.

The Observation Form, as mentioned on Friday has changed to better focus the feedback. Recommendations for Action (RfA) need to be stated against the Grading Standards so that practitioners know better what aspect of their practice they need to improve. This will further help the Advanced Practitioners provide targeted support. Hopefully this may reduce the time taken to address (RFA) and improve classroom learning as quickly as possible.

Improvements to the accuracy and depth (quality) of Observer feedback can have a significant impact on improving teaching and learning.

Please remember, practitioners with a Grade 2 (or perhaps even a Grade 1) may still have an aspect of their practice they can improve. This should be stated on the OLTA Form.


Revised Grading  Standards (Jan 2013) OLTA Underpinning Grading Standards – Jan 13 FINAL amends TS

Revised Grading Standards with Observer Keywords (Jan 2013) OLTA Underpinning Grading Standards – Jan 13 FINAL – Observer Grid TS

Grading Descriptors (Jan 2013) Session Grading Judgement Descriptors – Jan 13 Update TS 

The Grading Descriptors should be used with caution. They are only to provide additional some guidance …

How Should Feedback be Given

(Source – adapted from: Warwick University Learning and Development Centre )

 There is no one model. Different approaches work for each Observer. The following does provide some good tips for a positive conversation. The intention is to support the practitioner to become a reflective practitioner.

It is often a nerve-wracking experience to be observed, particularly for staff unfamiliar with the process, and it is important to bear this in mind when feeding back. In this context, it is helpful to:

  • discuss the session as soon afterwards as possible
  • put colleagues at their ease, i.e. conduct the feedback informally
  • stick to the facts, be objective i.e. avoid subjective (personal preferences) which the observee can question and challenge

With regard to the process of feedback, recommended practice is for:

1. the teacher to be given the opportunity to describe or what he or she thought happened in the session. Some useful starter questions are:

      • Did it go as you intended?
      • What were the strong points?
      • What were the less strong points?
      • What would you do differently?

2. the observer then to describe what he or she observed, i.e. to give their narrative of the session

3. on this basis, and with due regard for the teacher’s account, for the observer to:

      • identify what they had observed the teacher to have done successfully
      • identify those components which were less successful or where there were difficulties
      • or the teacher to reflect upon and respond to the comments of the observer to jointly identify strengths and areas which may require attention to jointly agree on any steps which may be taken to improve teaching, e.g. appropriate forms of staff development to jointly agree to review the matter at a mutually convenient time.

In order to undertake this, it is essential that the observer:

  • listens carefully to the teacher’s account
  • sticks to description initially
  • praises first
  • is sensitive in bringing points to the teacher’s attention
  • is constructive about identifying courses of action

The person observed will often want to know what the observer thought of the session, and this is a reasonable expectation. It can be very irritating to be looking for an evaluative judgement from someone who is not prepared to express a view. The negotiation should include this issue. Where evaluative comment is made, it is important to remember that both are talking about perceptions, in an area where objective truth is hard, if not impossible, to establish. Phrases such as “It seemed to me …” or “I felt that …” are more appropriate than “This was bad …” or “You didn’t succeed in …”.

It is essential that the teacher

  • listens carefully to the observer’s narrative
  • responds positively to the opportunity to reflect
  • responds constructively to advice

Finally, it is essential that both the teacher and the observer share responsibility for:

  • focusing upon the process rather than the outcome
  • returning the feedback to track if it becomes either anecdotal or judgmental
  • maintaining the confidentiality of the procedure

Observer Actions

Following the keenness to use WallWisher, and the information that Cockburn School use Twitter as a staff communication tool,  could we set a target for all observers and APs to have signed-up and ‘tweeted’ by the February half-term. My work Twitter username is innov8lcc


The following guide is a useful starting point for how to use Twitter in FE Twittersupp-Jan2013

You can get the Twitter App on the college smart phones.


Please post a comment on the Blog (don’t worry it is moderated) and let’s get a debate going, a community of practice …

Hidden Outcomes

These were alluded to on Friday and were hopefully as follows:

1. Starter activity. Start with an activity that really engages the group/class and try and think of a different one or have a reasonable period or focus before repeating. This creates interest from the start and the class/group are hopefully engaged. The activity on how to use WallWisher which was new to many.

2. Use the starter activity to assess the class/groups prior knowledge of the topic & link with previous session. This could even be prior to the outcomes and success criteria for the session being shown/shared. If some of the group have detailed prior knowledge, try and use them in the delivery. We identified from the starter everyone’s prior knowledge and used this.

3. Note the use of  ‘we’ in the outcomes as opposed to ‘you’! This indicates that the teacher and students are learning together i.e. constructing new knowledge together as opposed to the teacher ‘providing / giving’ all the information/knowledge.

4. The  20:80 rule. 80% is group talk/activities, 20% is the tutor talking i.e. not ‘chalk and talk’ didactic delivery. Hopefully this was the case!

5. The teacher does not spend all the time at the front of the class. The delivery/lead does not always need to be from the front. This again emphasises the ‘learning together’ concept. Again, hopefully the case?


4 thoughts on “Observer Briefing Session – 25th January 2013

  1. Enjoyed the session. I am doing the questionaire with staff team to see how much technology is being used in Hair and Beauty in order to assess how we move forward with developing people and sharing good practice

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