Observing the observer


In his article called ‘Building Staff Rapport With Flash Lessons’ Brian Kulak, a U.S. school administrator, describes how he establishes good relationships with the teachers from his district: instead of (or in addition to) traditional observations, he offers to teach their students, with the teachers present and participating.

‘The spirit of the flash lesson is, like a bolt of lightning, unpredictable. I tell the teacher as little as possible about what I have planned because I want him to be completely vulnerable and, quite frankly, a student in his own class. When I have a question, I call on the teacher first. When I need a volunteer, he is my first participant.’

I think it’s not just the class teacher who is vulnerable, it’s also the administrator who has to deal with an unfamiliar class and make sure the lesson doesn’t completely flop in front of his colleague. But it’s a great role reversal – do you think it could work in a language school environment?

Orchestrate this


Henry Mintzberg recounts a hilarious story about an MBA student who knew exactly how to improve the efficiency of a classical orchestra.

“All twenty violins were playing identical notes. This would seem to be an unnecessary duplication, so the staff of this section should be cut drastically” [from the student’s report].

Here’s the story in full:

Ye gods: an efficient orchestra!

Mintzberg goes on to talk about different ‘species of organisation’ and how they should be treated. And I am thinking about lesson observations and how prescriptive the observer’s feedback can be. Would you rather be part of an orchestra, or of a factory?