Thursday, 9 April 2015

To observe or not to observe...that is the question

I had the pleasure of observing a young teacher in a class recently. And he was good, very good. The literature lesson was creative and well-paced and I must admit I enjoyed the lesson very much. Two days ago however, I had to endure 80 minutes of torture watching a lesson that did not achieve its objectives! It made me wonder if this thing we call observation in schools is a fruitful or a futile exercise. Schools carry out observations as part of it maintenance culture but sadly data collected is not used to the maximum. What do schools do with under performing teachers for example? In all honesty we carry this out year in year out to show that the job has been done. Let the documentation show that we have carried out all the necessary.

Sadly, the maintenance culture is schools is so deeply entrenched that it will probably take a revolution of some sort to undo its negative impacts. We do something because everyone does it not because the feedback on our teachers' competence would help them become better teachers. We hardly do anything with the feedback afterwards. I thought we are in the business of shaping the minds to become future leaders? Hence it is only right that schools nurture a performance culture as opposed to a maintenance culture. I think we need to run schools like a business entity where high standards are nurtured and productivity monitored.

I guess it's because these young graduates are qualified teachers when they report to schools. They are the products of years of observations and training in IPGM or universities and so they are qualified to teach. But what about those who really can't teach or are continuously under performing after they have obtained their license? It is sad to see teachers who do the minimum. Some showed little respect for the observer by hardly preparing a solid lesson even when they knew they would be observed. One teacher had a single handout in his hand and moved about so much in the classroom with a dominating voice without once checking for students' understanding and carried on like that till the end. It reminds me of my History professor in university who went on and on in the lecture hall  as if we all understood his lecture on European history completely!

On many occasions during observation, I was tempted to take over the class and teach because it was just too painful to sit and watch the children who were craving for knowledge feeling and looking lost. But of course that would be unprofessional...sigh.

And so this cycle of apparent 'futility' repeats itself over and over. I just have one message to those who chose teaching as a profession- prepare your lessons well. You're only required to achieve your objectives for the lesson nothing more nothing less. Who are we kidding? You owe it to the children.

Those who can Do Those who can do more TEACH

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