Archive for category Tracking Teaching Skills

Tracking Teaching Skills: using a ‘success criteria’ to observe lessons

In a previous post, I have discussed using a tracking system to show development against the skills covered in my CPD programme.  This worked really well for my first year trainees who were attending all of the weekly CPD sessions that I held, but worked less well for 2nd year trainees who did not attend all the sessions, nor for members of my department (with whom I am also working to develop teaching and learning ).  This was because the list of skills was quite limited, simply those I deemed necessary for training in the first year of a teachers’ development.

As such, I developed what I considered to me a more exhaustive ‘success criteria’ for a lesson that could be used for the same purpose.  This criteria was not supposed to be a complete list, nor was it to be used as a weapon against teachers, for example by saying that because they had failed to include group work in a lesson they could not get an ‘Outstanding’ grade.  It was simply designed to help track areas in which classroom practice was strong and areas in which teachers could use extra training and support.

The categories that I broke this criteria up into are:

  1. Planning and task design
  2. Assessment for Learning
  3. Questioning skills
  4. Behaviour Management
  5. Literacy

With each of these broken down into further constituent skills:


My idea, which I am currently using with my NQTs, is that instead of an Ofsted grading they receive two to three targets (successes are not limited) from an observation.  Their next observation is then ‘judged’ against whether they achieve these targets; they are being observed specifically to see that they have put into practice the targets from the previous observation, helping, I think, to provide some extra impetus for working towards meeting targets that I think is missing in the traditional Ofsted rating observation system.

I would also note that this list is not at all supposed to be fixed or exhaustive: there is an ‘other’ column to add any I missed, but also the whole list is up for argument and alteration.  My version is in large part responding to development priorities (i.e., literacy) that were set by my school.

I use a spreadsheet to track this, so that, for example, everyone in my department has a leaf / series of columns that show their development through their observations over the year.  My department have responded really positively to this, and many people feel that the system works better for them than getting a number from the Ofsted rating system.

Please find the observation proforma and tracking spreadsheet below:

Skills Tracking Spreadsheet 2

Observation Skills Tracker 2

I hope that there are some useful ideas for how to track the development of  teachers here.  The topic of lesson observation is one of the most divisive within teaching at the moment and, as within any divisive issue, people tend to have different strong opinions about the right and wrong way to proceed.  This is just one possible way.

Thanks for reading,



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Tracking the Effectiveness of Your Training Programme

One thing that I noticed during my own teacher training was a distinct lack of any real tracking of my developing skills.  Anything that was in place seemed to be highly subjective or quite obscure, using strangely worded criteria that did not seem to have that much bearing on what actually goes on within the classroom.

This was something that I wanted to address in setting up my own programme, particularly because I thought that it would be a good way to solve, at least in part, the CPD Paradox through making trainees more accountable for making positive changes to their practice.

Since bringing this system in, I have also entirely stopped using Ofsted graded observations with my 2nd year trainees; I feel that a skills tracking system is a much more effective way of ensuring progress than the idea of giving people an emotion-loaded number between 1-4.  Anyway, I’ll let you judge that for yourselves.

I use two different tracking systems, depending on who I am working with.  In this post, I discuss a system I developed that specifically tracks the skills and techniques covered in my weekly training programme.  The idea is that it gives me accurate data about whether what we cover week on week is actually making its way into the classroom.  Equally, it should provide some extra impetus for trainees themselves to actively try to utilise new skills.

Tracking system

Below, please find an image of my professional studies programme, laid out in date order:

My Professional Studies timetable - click the image for a downloadable version

The first three sessions in this programme were designed to help teachers with the basics of behaviour management and lesson planning.  The first was on teaching students an active listening technique and embedding a routine for silence, the second on creating good learning objectives and the third on routines for the start of lesson (i.e., how students walk into the room, handing out resources and so on).

When I observed this one of my trainees a month into their first year, I used the following proforma:


to track these skills on a master spreadsheet:


From this, I could see that Joe Bloggs  had got to grips with the basics of planning (setting manageable, clear and correctly phrased objectives) and needed no further help in this area, but had failed to grasp the basics of behaviour management.  I could then use this data to work with him on better strategies in this area.

The next time I then observed Joe, I could see whether he had made the required changes, but would then also move further forward into the skills tracking documents to see whether new skills from the training programme were being acquired.  At any date, I would track all the teaching skills covered in the CPD programme up to that point. At the end of their first year, the spreadsheet could also be used as evidence  towards passing QTS.

To illustrate, below is a screen shot of the same tracker containing all the skills taught up to Christmas:


I attach both the observation proforma and tracking spreadsheet below:

Skill Tracking Spreadsheet 1

Observation skill tracker 1

In an typically excellent blog post, Joe Kirby has posted on similar issues here.