My position is this: I am not against Ofsted; I am certainly not against inspection; nor am I against classroom observation. In fact there are good reasons for wanting to observe teaching. It is hard to imagine a credible evaluation system that doesn’t include some observation; when done properly it does contribute to a valid judgement of teaching quality; and the process of having to think harder about how to do it should help us to understand better what effective pedagogy means. However, if we are going to do it we should do it in the most defensible way possible.
Staying descriptive is the single most difficult skill to develop in teacher-driven observation. It challenges established norms of conversation, particularly among educators whose conversations commonly remain in what Elizabeth City and colleagues call the "land of nice." 1 In addition, educators are in the habit of drawing immediate conclusions about our classrooms—we do so hundreds of times a day as we make decisions. Teacher-driven observation requires that we take a moment to pause and examine the data collected in our classrooms.