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Don’t be afraid to take risks. If a lesson goes wrong, and you pull it back on track you do not go down a grade. Inspectors give high grades for imaginative lessons. If you plan something adventurous which you fear might go wrong, you can always have an easier lesson ready in case it does not work. Knowing that you can save the situation if it goes wrong, gives you the confidence to try for the higher grade.
Read the school’s last inspection report to remind yourself what they will be looking for in terms of improvement since the last time, and what issues they examine generally.
Inspectors take the views of parents seriously, so chase up the parents whom you know will support the school to return their questionnaires and attend the parents’ consultation evening with the inspectors.
Make sure you have the support of your family. If you have children, explain that it is exam time for you and that you have to concentrate on school work until it is over, but you’ll make up for it with a treat when it is over.
Try to make all your display boards look especially attractive as they help to create a positive impression on an inspector.
Read again any school policies which are relevant to you, in case they ask you about them in your interview.
As far as possible, prepare lessons on topics at which you perform best. If you are preparing a lesson which may be difficult to carry out, you can practise it in the week before the inspection with a similar one.
Make sure your lessons have variety - group work, paired work, pupils directed to finding things out for themselves. Inspectors love to see active learning and of course try to include an element of fun.
Getting through the week
When inspectors come to observe your lessons, smile and make them welcome. It gives the impression you are capable and confident.
Never try to become familiar with them or drop your guard. Remember they are inspectors, there to judge you. Be polite and helpful but when the interview is over, thank them and leave them.
When you get your grade, don’t feel bad if it is only ‘satisfactory’. You probably spend all day encouraging your pupils and building up their self-esteem, so don’t undermine your own.
You might have an interview, so it is wise to be prepared. Try preparing answers to these sample questions, which apply to both the primary and secondary sectors.
Keep your prepared answers in your drawer and read them just before your interview begins.
When it is over
There is often a lull before the report is read and work on the action plan for the needed improvements begins. It is worth being involved in this process as it is valuable experience for you and will look impressive on your reference when you apply for promotion.
Suggested further reading
The above advice was provided for ATL by teaching specialist Hazel Bennett, author of The Ultimate Teachers' Handbook. Hazel can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For further advice on this issue, ATL members can speak to their school rep, their branch secretary or their regional official. They can also call the London (020 7930 6441), Cardiff (029 2046 5000) or Belfast office (02890 327 990) or email email@example.com.
For out of hours enquiries, call the out of office hours helpline on 020 7782 1612 (Monday-Friday, 5.00 - 7.30pm during term time).
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