Best Practice

Observing vulnerable students during lessons

For teachers with challenging or vulnerable students in their lessons, observations can become all the more stressful. Daniel Sobel looks at how we must observe the pupils in question and not the teachers...

Colin has been teaching for seven years and is a good teacher. Ryan is a student with a variety of needs including being a looked after child, having SEN and a history of challenging behaviour.

Colin is anxious about the lessons he teaches Ryan; there is a new principal in post and he is worried about making a bad impression. Colin feels unsupported, especially by the SENCO who is too busy. He begins to doubt whether being a teacher is good for him. An observation is coming up and he gets the doctor to sign him off sick.

And so it begins for Colin – a good teacher with all the potential to be great is now experiencing that which many teachers encounter. There is a debate to be had about lesson observations. They can be useful, challenging, damaging, inspiring, pointless, tick-boxy, a façade and many more things. But I am going to side-step this elephant and hone-in on a different story...

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