Peer observation @ PBAS

At Port Broughton we have introduced classroom observations as a part of our professional development. Over the past two years we have had some teachers participate in this process.

The process enables teachers to:

  1. Teachers can have a peer provide feedback focusing on a particular area.
  2. Teachers can ask to come in and observe how a teacher delivers a lesson i.e. use of IT, explaining a lesson goal, providing feedback, catering for a variety of students, behaviour management or running a specific program.

While some teachers have taken up this process some have not and it is my aim to continue to develop this process until we have all teachers engaging in the process.

To encourage teachers to engage in the process I have developed some observation proformas which focus on specific attributes of a lesson. The following documents are produced using resources from the AITSL online course Supervising pre-service teachers which Tanya and I are working through.

The proformas cover the following:

  1. Assessment (3 questions)
  2. Being strategic (12 focus questions)
  3. Classroom management (5 focus questions)
  4. Communication and engagement (5 focus questions)

The benefits of using these proformas:

  1. These four proformas focus on important aspects of teaching and learning and are not specific to year levels or curriculum areas.
  2. They narrow the focus of the observation making it easier for teacher and observer to complete the process and receive targeted feedback that will be useful.

Over the next few weeks leadership have made a commitment to approach teachers to seek a focus (i.e. one of the four areas mentioned above) and time for an observation to be undertaken.

The positive impact of collaboration

Collaboration is a critical part of teacher learning. We appreciate the time to speak with our peers formally or informally and studies show that this collaboration is beneficial to our practice. Finding time to do it more often and more effectively is important.

Collaboration can come in many forms including but not exclusively:

  • Team teaching
  • Mentoring
  • Professional learning communities
  • Collaborative moderation
  • Team meetings
  • Social media
  • Classroom observations
  • Informal discussions between teachers

There is plenty of research to support the effectiveness of teacher collaboration and its positive impact on teacher learning.

“Teaching should be recognised as engaging in continuing inquiry into practice, and this inquiry should be recognised as strongly collegial and collaborative in nature.” Professor Diane Mayer Associate Professor Margaret Lloyd October 2011, AITSL

“Focusing on building teacher teams and providing meaningful ways for teachers to work together on the tough challenges they encounter can lead to substantively important achievement gains.” Jason Grissom, associate professor of public policy and education at Vanderbilt University

“Thus, not only is collaboration good for teachers—quite possibility by fostering teacher learning—but it is also positively related to student achievement.” Yvonne L. Goddard Roger D. Goddard University of Michigan Megan Tschannen-Moran College of William and Mary

At Port Broughton it is important to continue to develop our collaborative practices.

  • Classroom observations and the discussions that arise from these are important learning opportunities for teachers to learn from each other. This is not limited to just being observed but also includes the act of observing others teaching.
  • Contributing to and engaging in the discussions around formative assessment. This may be in face to face settings or through the blog. Actively engaging in these discussions by sharing practice and asking questions of others will develop our practice in this area.
  • We will be continuing our professional discussions at whole staff meetings around pre determined topics. At different times staff are asked to present at these meetings. Being prepared to share practice in these types of environments is critical. Knowing what others are doing allows teachers to approach individual teachers (at any time) to collaborate and discuss aspects of professional practice. In weeks 6 and 7 we will be continuing our discussion of formative assessment during staff meeting time.
  • Collaborative moderation is a process we will be discussing and using over the next 18 months at PBAS. Discussing student work in a collaborative manner to ensure accurate assessment as well as develop teacher knowledge of the achievement standards and quality assessment tasks.
  • Our Site Improvement Plan groups around Literacy/Numeracy, Wellbeing and Teaching & Learning will allow teachers to collaborate on common focus areas, develop a deeper knowledge and move these forward.
  • Individual teachers are collaborating with others outside of our school. This is a vital form of collaboration. Examples of this are teachers working with peers from other schools through linked SACE programs or via social media.
  • Individual teachers are collaborating with their peers at PBAS. This is a vital form of collaboration. This formal and informal collaboration builds a sense of collegiality amongst staff and helps to develop and improve pedagogy.

If you are looking for more about collaboration click on the link below and read a great post by a teacher who did not collaborate in his first year and wishes he did. What would he do differently?

“I have witnessed a general sense that teachers, when it comes to their performance in the classroom, tend to stick to themselves. This could be because of self-consciousness or embarrassment, but the attitude of professional privacy is not conducive to professional development.” Ben Johnson – Administrator, author and educator

Forms of Feedback and Assessment Strategies

The links below (the titles) will take you to some useful information on providing feedback and assessment strategies. I thought they might be useful for professional reading if anyone was looking for ideas or had a focus in these areas as part of their professional development.

All information is from the Board of Studies and Educational Standards NSW website.

Effective Feedback

Teacher feedback about student learning is essential for students and integral to teaching, learning and assessment. Feedback can clarify for students:

  • how their knowledge, understanding and skills are developing in relation to the syllabus outcomes and content being addressed
  • how to improve their learning.

Primary Assessment Strategies

Secondary Assessment Strategies

The purpose of assessment is to gather valid, reliable and useful information about student learning in order to:

  • monitor student achievement in relation to outcomes
  • guide future teaching and learning opportunities
  • provide ongoing feedback to students to improve learning.


Australian Curriculum Lesson Plans


I have talked about this website in the past and thought it was timely to put it out there again for teachers who are planning for the second half of the year. The website covers:

English – Foundation to Year 10

Maths – Foundation to Year 10

Science – Foundation to Year 10

History – Foundation to Year 10

Arts – Foundation to Year 10

Note: Some year levels/subjects have limited units of work available.

What made me come back to this resource was a personal need to find resources and information about the Year 9 History unit I am teaching this semester. I have already found a brilliant Gallipoli resource I will definitely be using it with my 9/10 class when we do our depth study on WW1. Below are screen shots of my Year 9 History search on the website.

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 6.07.20 pm Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 6.07.41 pm Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 6.07.31 pm

All units on the site are directly linked to the Australian Curriculum and provide downloadable lesson plans and links to resources. Even if a lesson plan doesn’t suit your specific needs you may find new resources that you can use with your existing programs.