Today was my first meeting of the Peer.net group (http://heforum.posterous.com/peernet-scheme-887600) and it was really interesting to meet my HE colleagues for the first time in many cases. (Incidentally that’s interesting in a positive sense!)
But the focus of this reflection is not the loveliness of the colleagues but the perceptions around classroom observation and its role in colleges.
Let me set the scene a little. The Peer.Net process has been set up in my college as a means of sharing good practice and ensuring quality within the HE team (of which I am a member in one of my several roles in college!)
It follows a broadly similar model to the Teaching Squares model: a form of peer observation where the individuals involved meet, discuss their observations, observe each other teach, then discuss their learning from that observation.The primary ethos of the model is quality improvement through reflection, collaboration and sharing.
It’s a model used in HEIs to develop and share good practice, as well as part of the quality assurance processes overseen in HE by QAA, and the whole process is radically different to the way in which quality assurance happens in FE, which follows the traditional top down model of quality control represented by OFSTED and used in schools.
What was interesting today was the interface (?) between the two ethoses (ethoi? Ethea?) where the mindset and the terminology of the top down inspection-led approach bled across into what people were writing: concepts such as strengths and weaknesses, feedback, and an overall focus on evaluative commentaries on teaching practice rather than on sharing.
The other thing that this sparked was lots of thinking & writing about observations, which I have added as a post to follow this one.