Third Party Observations (TPOs)

Please review each section in turn to explore Third Party Observations (TPOs) and the broader role of the mentor

Key documents: TPO form and Lesson Plan

You need to do one or two third party observations (TPOs) on your mentee’s teaching. Where and when this takes place is negotiable between you and your mentee, but you are strongly encouraged to do the first TPO in the first term. All TPOs should be submitted as part of the ACAD1288/9 portfolio by the late May/ early June submission date for the year. Note: PGCert in HE participants are required to undertake three TPOs, ALTHE participants are required to undertake two TPOs.

If you observe your mentee twice it’s always better to do one TPO in each term. It’s a good idea to choose a session where there is a spare half-hour afterwards for you to talk through your feedback.  Your notes about the observation can be easily recorded on a laptop, using the convenient e-proforma an editable Word version of which can be downloaded (see above). You fill in Parts One and Two, and your mentee records their reflection on the session and on your feedback in Part Three. Once complete, you can e-mail the resulting document to your mentee who will keep it for inclusion in their portfolio. If it is not possible to use a laptop during the lesson, I suggest you make notes under the same headings and type them up immediately after.

We ask you to do ONE or TWO observations in the course of the year, depending on whether or not your mentee chooses to do a Peer Observation of Teaching with a fellow class member.  If they do Peer Observation of Teaching with a fellow class member, you only need to do ONE TPO.  Note that from 2017, you no longer need to indicate PASS or FAIL on the TPOs.

Ensure that the participant has opportunities to participate in the professional activities within the organisation e.g. departmental meeting (this is even more important for pre-service participants who would not normally be involved in these activities).  Those participants seeming NMC registration will need links with the clinical area so please help them to make arrangements for this.

Ensure that the participant has a timetable that will allow them to teach for a minimum of 60 hours per academic year (PGCert in HE)/ 25 hours per academic year (Award).  NMC registered Nurses and Midwives must do at least 20% of their teaching within the practice setting.

In summary, your role will involve helping the participant to link theory to practice (you will therefore need to be familiar with the modules the participants are doing) and assessing and giving feedback on the participant’s performance. 

The Participant's Role

The Participant’s Role

  • Identify issues they need help with
  • Be open to feedback
  • Develop the ability to discriminate what feedback is useful
  • Monitor their tendency to justify, explain or defend themselves
  • Use self supervision prior to meeting with you. (This involves reflecting on their practice, so that they can identify issues they need to bring to supervision with you.)

Your Role as a Mentor in the regular meetings
Your role as a Mentor in the REGULAR Meeting
  • Make a contract (agreement) for each session you have with the participant. You might find it useful at the start of the session to get the participant to identify how they want to use the time/what they want out of the session.
  • Work on the issues that the participant is requesting help with. You may also want to offer the participant something that they have not specifically asked for but which you see might be of benefit to them e.g. suggesting some particular event that might be of benefit for them to observe.
  • Enable the participant to reflect on their practice (good as well as not so good practices).
  • Provide participant with opportunity to discuss feelings associated with work.
  • At the end of each session, get the participant to identify what they are taking away from the session. You might want them to record this on the mentor’s record form that you will sign. Participants will be given mentors record forms which they will bring when they meet with you.

Participants sometimes find the observation of their teaching stressful. Please try to make the occasion as comfortable as possible for the participant, while acknowledging that it is bound to feel difficult.

Another TPO is undertaken by a PGCert in HE programme tutor.  All TPOs form part of the portfolio for ACAD1288 Professional Development in HE.

Note that most of the e-proforma is completed by you (Parts 1 and 2), but there is a section (Part 3) for your mentee to record their observations or reflections, both upon their performance and upon the feedback they receive.   It is only when they have demonstrated this reflective capacity in writing that the TPO can be “signed off”.

This probably means that the e-proforma will be passed back and forth between you and your mentee so that each can record their thoughts. Please note that the TPO is not only of the teaching, but preparation and planning beforehand, and the reflection and reaction afterwards. As ever, the watchword is professionalism.

Sometimes, if there are many problems with a lesson, you may not be sure whether to accept it. It is usually best to go with your initial response; waiting to think it over rarely makes the decision any easier and postpones the opportunity for giving immediate feedback. If it is a repeat, then give the mentee a chance to redeem that failure in future, in a follow-up observation. It will then be important to ensure that your mentee understands why they were asked to repeat the observation, and what they should do to address the issues at hand.

TPO Planning and Preparation - what to look for in lesson plans
Planning and Preparation:  This will include structuring of the session and ensuring the use of appropriate resources to facilitate learning.

Evidence of the ability to provide a lesson plan which:

  • Includes clear aims and outcomes which are appropriate to the course and which meet the needs of all the participants concerned;
  • sets the lesson in the context of previous learning;
  • allows for stimulus variation and active participant involvement;
  • provides opportunities for assessment of learning;
  • select and prepare suitable and clear teaching learning materials and aids, which challenge stereotypes where appropriate;
  • As part of the preparation there must be attention to the physical environment and learning resources.
TPO Teaching - what to look for during mentee teaching sessions
Delivery: Presentation of one’s subject in a manner that is appropriate to the learning situation and which encourage supportive learning.

Evidence of ability to:

    • set the session in the context of previous learning;
    • ensure that the intended aims and outcomes are clear to participants;
    • use a range of teaching/learning strategies which sustains participants’ interests and extends their skills, knowledge and understanding;
    • use a range of teaching/learning strategies (exposition, questioning, explanation etc.) effectively; ensure that voice, pace and manner helps learning;
    • where appropriate, ensure that participants carry out practical work competently and safely;
  • monitor participant progress regularly using appropriate assessment strategies and, where appropriate, modify the planned teaching/learning processes in response to this.

Evidence of ability to:

  • adopt a positive and fair attitude towards all participants (present and absent) and their individual training needs;
  • motivate and actively involve participants;
  • establish and maintain rapport and induce co-operation;
  • apply equal opportunities policy and practice.
TPO Debrief - what to look for/ encourage during post-teaching debrief discussion
Evaluation and Reflection (during debriefing)

Evidence of an ability to:

    • critically evaluate the session by considering how far appropriate learning has occurred and the methods used for establishing a supportive learning environment;
    • analyse the experience in a constructive manner by suggesting alternative approaches to the management of the session and by drawing out implications for further development;
  • respond constructively to criticism offered by the assessor.
Six Hints on Giving Feedback on Teaching Practice
    1. Wherever possible, give verbal feedback to participants about their teaching immediately after the lesson. If this is not possible, please make every effort to do so within 24 hours.
    1. Start off by asking the participant to tell you what they think went well/not so well. This self assessment can often be a trigger for your own feedback.
    1. Always try to say something positive about the lesson-even where there were a lot of problems.
    1. Be very specific about criticisms and about suggestions for improvements.
    1. Be clear with the participant about the result, particularly if you are proposing a Fail.
  1. Do give the participant their copy of your written assessment report as soon as possible after the lesson.

Third Party Observations - Participant Peer Observations

In 2017-18 all participants are offered the option to undertake a final TPO as a peer observation with another participant on the programme.  We think this will be a positive and very useful learning experience; your mentee may want to discuss this option with you.

You can see the participants’ guidance about the peer observation option and process here, and there is further information also in your programme handbook.

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