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The SLT effect

The SLT effect is something that happens when a member of SLT enters your classroom. I remember in my NQT year having a Y10 class I struggled to control and a deputy head walking in to my classroom and the class all of a sudden becoming the very model of good behaviour. I’ve seen this effect time and time again, in my lessons and in the lessons of others. I’ve only ever known 1 class be immune to it.

The effect can be welcome, if your being observed for performance management or Ofsted, and it can be unwelcome – like it was I that year 10 class in my NQT year, as I’d asked the deputy to observe to give me ideas of how I could improve the behaviour.

A couple of weeks ago I welcomed a member of SLT into Y13 class, and I experienced the effect in a really different way. The class are normally a really bubbly class who are constantly discussing the maths and asking questions to further their knowledge and help them make sense of the new content, and to aid their application of that content. But this lesson they froze, they responded to questioning timidly and with short answers and didn’t ask any questions themselves. It was like a totally different class.

It got me thinking about the class and why this happened. I can only imagine it must stem from a lack of confidence, perhaps they were worried that our visitors would think they were no food at maths (they are in fact very good). I feel I now need to look at building their confidence to discuss their learning in front of others, and to build their confidence in the learning itself.

Have you experienced similar? Do you have any ideas of how to combat this?

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  1. mwilson
    February 19, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    Absolutely,  my Y12 clammed up last term when the head walked in and they shrank in horror as I continued to be my usual idiotic, embarrassing self. They were trying to be good for my benefit.!

    Sent from Samsung Mobile

    • February 19, 2016 at 3:18 pm

      Bless them. This may be what mine thought they were doing also.

  2. mathsnofear
    February 20, 2016 at 5:55 am

    A fascinating anecdote…that I’ve experienced at both ends (young teacher, school leader & visiting consultant). More recent experiences have been in the latter two roles, and I tend to try to slide in without being noticed (Australian schools I work in are quite informal), and act as an extra pair of hands supporting kids’ learning. I avoid entering if the teacher is in an expository phase of their lesson. Typically, teachers appreciate the support and we have an enriching professional chat at some point.

    Please keep up this blog…it is really valuable.

    • February 20, 2016 at 9:14 am

      Thanks for your insights and kind words about the blog.

  3. March 5, 2016 at 12:02 pm

    Reblogged this on The Echo Chamber.

  4. October 25, 2016 at 8:53 am

    This ‘observer effect’ quite a well-known effect. I can recall several observed lessons when a class usually good at discussion clammed up in the presence of a senior leader. Now as deputy head, I try to be aware of what effect my presence can have. It’s a good idea to familiarise classes with visitors popping in, that way they will behave more normally in observations.

    By the way, you have a typo, second para, line 1 – you’re.

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