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Quality assurance

July 07, 2005

I was talking to a DOS recently who told me how she hated having to do lesson observations. It wasn't that she had any objections to the idea of a quality check but she found that teachers were very defensive and clearly didn't welcome her presence.

It's a difficult issue, isn't it, because the school needs to ensure that students are getting top-quality teaching but teachers, understandably, feel reluctant to open themselves to possible criticism.

I think the system works better if quality assurance isn't seen as a top down approach. If everybody is a partner in working for excellence, teachers need not feel threatened. To begin with teachers can be asked to be self-reflective. They can be asked to note down what they felt went well about a lesson and what could be improved. They could then discuss this with the DOS so that the initiative for improvement comes from them. Peer lesson observation is another useful tool so that teachers can be mutually supportive. A debriefing session with students can also help, with teachers conducting regular discussions with their students about what the class perceives as good.

Feedback from all these activities can be gathered at staff meetings and teachers can make their own action plans for improvement. Of course, this will only work if the necessary support is there in the form of additional training, budgets for equipment and materials, and a general atmosphere of mutual respect.

The main snag about such schemes is that many schools are located in cultures that are strongly hierarchical with managers seeing workers not as equal partners but as subordinates to be controlled. It could be diffciult in these situations to persuade the school directors that "people" oriented activities function better by co-operation than by orders from above.

Let me know about your experiences!

Bye for now.

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  1. MM Says:

    Sometimes principals use the comments that you write, against you in your final evaluation. It seems like you are setting yourself up, if you write down areas where you can improve. Trust issues need to be addressed early on with your supervisor/principal if any true professional growth is to take place. I am not sure new prinicpals or insecure prinicpals are trained in this.

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