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6 Tips for Ensuring an Effective Lesson Observation

1. Plan the observation together

In order to be truly developmental, observations should be ‘done with’, not ‘done to’. Select a pre-determined area of focus based on prior knowledge of an individual’s practice and/or the school’s focus for that term.

2. Make use of a common framework

A school system which has agreed prompts and judgement criteria, working protocols and clearly defined expected outcomes will be in a very strong position to influence teaching positively.

Our own XLence Standards Monitoring Framework provides prompts for lesson observations and is written to align to the Professional Standards, meet the requirements of the new curriculum and fulfil the Four Purposes.

3. Be an active observer

Talk to pupils to gauge their opinion and don’t just rely on one source of evidence (i.e. the lesson itself). Ask to see books and lesson plans. Make notes on everything seen (remembering to record strengths as well as development points) and refine these after the observation.

4. Evaluate outcomes together

Schedule in a ‘Professional Learning Conversation’ after the observation. Share draft notes beforehand so that both parties have chance to reflect before the meeting.

5. Agree next steps

Lesson observation is pointless if it doesn’t provide the observed staff member with actionable development points. Consider CPD and what training might be beneficial.

6. Repeat

Reliability is linked to the number of lessons seen and one-time observations are open to error. A greater number of observations is required when a teacher is receiving developmental feedback rather than being simply “evaluated”. It’s important to get the culture right in your school so that observations or lesson visits are viewed as developmental as opposed to judgmental.

Lesson Observation Made Simple with XLence

Lesson visits, classroom observations… whatever you call them, you can record them in XLence. With our optional, comprehensive Standards Monitoring Framework included for free, XLence can help to ensure that your observations drive real school improvement by following 3 easy steps:


Select the type of monitoring you’d like to complete. XLence can be set up with your own forms and frameworks or you can use ours.


Choose your area of focus. Add comments as you observe and support your commentary with clickable descriptors that help you to quickly identify what has been seen and what hasn’t. Pick an overall judgement if applicable, or simply remove judgements from your forms.


End the observation by highlighting development points and strengths. Categorise these to show trends across the school and identify areas for development and best practice.

Book your free online demo of XLence today via our website or by calling 0800 788 0555.

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