Outstanding Lesson Or Not?

You know the components an outstanding lesson: good intro, collect information about prior learning, make it meaningful, engage the children, less teacher talk more child involvement, differentiated activities, stretch all children, find the sweet learning spot for all, prove that learning has taken place, get information for future planning, a plenary.

OFSTED defines an outstanding lesson as one in which pupils are keen to contribute to the lesson, asking relevant questions and debating the topic with enthusiasm, interacting productively with each other as well as the teacher, and able to explain what they are doing and why.

But I ask you, as a teacher and as a prior student yourself, can such a checklist or even OFSTED’s definition truly be used to determine whether a lesson is outstanding or not?

In this post, I’d like to play the devil’s advocate and say no. No, I don’t think that whether having all these components or not is the correct determiner of an outstanding lesson and the learning that takes place, and neither is OFSTED’s definition.

I want you to think back to your childhood and remember your favourite lesson. Can you think of more than one? Do you as a child remember any of these components being in those lessons? Maybe you do, maybe you don’t but most probably not.

One of my favourite lessons as a child (which probably now wouldn’t even count as one) was when my Year 5 teacher would read to us Roald Dahl’s ‘The Witches’. I remember sitting on the carpet and being engrossed in her reading and to this day (even after the movie, which by the way doesn’t do the book any justice in my opinion) I can revive the characters and scenes in my mind.

I remember a field trip where we visited Waltham Forest and were given maps to find our way around the forest, stepping into muddy puddles and getting wet in the rain.

I remember trying to read the word ‘the’ from flashcards and failing to get it right. I also remember the feeling of triumph when I finally got it right!

I remember holding my teacher’s hand as she was on duty. I remember her writing on the board and admiring her handwriting.

None of these memories, contain any of the components of outstanding lessons. Do yours?

You see, I believe that what might be an outstanding lesson for some, may not be for others. I think that when a teacher is passionate about what they do and is knowledgable of their subject and respects the students they teach, teacher/student chemistry will prevail above any outstanding lesson components and learning will most certainly take place. Maybe not in a measurable way, maybe not in a linear line but it is almost certain that it will take place. Whether it’s emotional, social, and/or academic learning, learning is something that occurs in so many ways.

Too much teacher talk they say is bad and yes to some extent I agree, some teachers love the sound of their own voice, but what if that teacher is saying something really captivating that inspires and engages children in learning, not just for that one specific lesson but learning for life?

What if that’s their superpower? Would that be enough for it to be an outstanding lesson?

Leave a comment below with your thoughts. Like and share this post.

Till next time…

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