Diary of an NQT: Under observation

Written by: Diary of an NQT | Published:
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After a disappointing outcome from his first lesson observation, our NQT diarist is determined to come out fighting this time...

Over the course of my NQT year, I will be observed teaching 12 times, with my in-class practice graded against the national Teachers’ Standards.

Having completed my ITT year, I am very familiar with the Standards, as I had to show evidence that each one had been met by the end of my training.

During observations, each Standard is given a grading of either “Excelling”, “Embedded”, “Emerging”, or “Limited”, mirroring Ofsted’s “outstanding” to “inadequate” grading system (although Ofsted has not graded lessons for some time now and does not expect schools to do so either).

I finished my ITT year being graded either “outstanding” or “good” for all of the Teachers’ Standards, and

I was keen for this to continue during my NQT year.

Observations are invaluable for NQTs, as they ensure that we are continuing to meet the Teachers’ Standards while also highlighting areas in which we need to improve.

I personally enjoy being observed, as it is an opportunity to show senior colleagues the relationships I have built with my students and the good work they are producing. The observations are carried out either by the school’s NQT manager (a member of the senior leadership team) or my head of department.

My first observation of the academic year was a “coaching” observation, an informal arrangement where the NQT manager drops into a lesson and provides written feedback. This type of observation is not graded against the Teachers’ Standards and is designed to provide constructive feedback to the NQT prior to their first official observation.

The NQT manager chose to view me teaching my set 5 year 9 geography group. The lesson went well and he provided very positive feedback, particularly praising my behaviour management. This was two weeks prior to my first official observation and it made me feel confident that this would be a success.

The official observation did not go as well as I had hoped. The lesson itself was good, but the NQT manager was critical of the amount of marking in my students’ books. This was a year 11 class and it was suggested that there should have been more written communication between me and my students.

As a result, I was graded “Limited” for Standards 2 and 6, which relate to the progress and assessment of students.

I was disappointed with this grading, especially as I had wanted to make a good impression during my first official observation. However, I accepted that the criticism was entirely valid. I discussed the issue with my head of department who was very supportive, helping me over the next few weeks to ensure that the consistency and usefulness of my marking improved.

I was also able to discuss this with my fellow NQTs, advising them to ensure that their marking was high-quality prior to their own observations.

I was observed again last week, this time by the NQT manager and my head of department. It was with a year 8 history class, who have just begun studying the Industrial Revolution, which is one of my specialist subjects. This class includes a number of students who can present challenging behaviour, but I have a good relationship with the group and they have been making good progress.

The lesson went brilliantly and the NQT manager commented upon the improvement in my marking. Overall, I was graded “Excelling” or “Embedded” for every Standard. I was thrilled. I hope to continue developing my skills and I hope to be graded “Excelling” in every Standard by the end of the year.

  • Our NQT diarist this year is a teacher of history at a comprehensive school in the North of England.


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