Quality teaching modules: Applying the development cycle to demonstrate proficiency against the Standards

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Module 3b

What is the role of evidence in effective teaching practice?

Overview

Module 3b looks at evidence of effective teaching. If used well, evidence measures the impact of teaching, which can help teachers improve their practice and lead to better learner outcomes.

After completing this professional learning, you should be able to:

  • Define an effective teaching practice
  • Explain how evidence supports an effective teaching practice
  • Evaluate and improve evidence practices
  • Understand the obstacles to collecting and reflecting on evidence

Estimated duration

65 - 80 minutes

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Let’s begin

Evidence can be used to understand how effectively teaching is targeted to learner needs and whether teaching is having a positive impact on learners.

The quality and variety of evidence to use needs to be considered carefully. Evidence should be examined for how much value collecting and interpreting it brings to improving learner outcomes, without unduly adding to the workload of teachers with extra processes. Teachers and leaders can review evidence to identify practices that have less impact for learners which can then be changed or removed. They can also ensure that quality evidence is informing ongoing teaching improvement activities, resulting in real growth and progress for learners.

The effectiveness of teaching practices can be considered both in terms of the quality of teaching and the capability of teachers, combined with a reflective approach to continually enhance practice and adopt an evaluative mind-set.

Through both direct and indirect impacts, effective teaching contributes to learners’:

  • academic achievement
  • improved relationships with teachers
  • improved wellbeing
  • motivation and willingness to learn
  • feelings of belonging within the education setting.

How does evidence support an effective teaching practice?

Collecting evidence helps you continually reflect and gain feedback on your practice so you can identify your strengths and areas for growth and development.

Processes that involve collecting evidence (such as teacher registration, school improvement planning and applying for Highly Accomplished and Lead teacher certification) share an underlying purpose – to develop quality teaching, which leads to improved learner outcomes.

It is important that teachers and leaders evaluate what evidence they collect so that its role remains purposeful. Broadly speaking, evidence is authentic, reliable and valid information that can be used to support a particular idea or conclusion. It can be contained within artefacts, observable actions and products (Sim, Freiberg, White, Allard, Le Cornu & Carter 2012).

The quality of the evidence is more important than the quantity. A high-quality piece of evidence could demonstrate achievement or progress across the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (the Standards). Quality evidence has depth and complexity, with annotations that show reflective practice.

Evidence can be drawn directly from your own practice and demonstrate how you improve outcomes for your students, and how you collaborate with colleagues. In doing so, it should clearly show:

  • what you want your students to learn
  • how you will facilitate this learning
  • how you will know they have achieved this learning (NBPTS 2005).

The evidence you collect will vary depending on contextual issues including level of schooling, position within an education setting, type of setting, jurisdiction and sector. Understanding your teaching environment and how that context influences your teaching choices and what you do will enable you to use evidence that is specific to your context. An example of this would be determining suitable evidence of effective teaching practice that considers local Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing and learning and communicating.

Diverse learning aspirations and concepts of educational success need to be accounted for to be sure the evidence you collect is meaningful and authentic for the community in which you teach.

Categories of evidence

There are many choices for the types of evidence you can collect and the ways it is presented, but the variety of evidence and the way you engage with the information determines how useful it is to help grow your practice.

The lists below shows different categories of evidence, with examples of what you could use for each.

Teaching and learning programs

  • long-term learning programs
  • lesson plans
  • learning resources
  • learning tasks and activities
  • evaluations of teaching and learning programs
  • individual student learning plans Classroom observations
  • lesson observation notes
  • post-observation meeting notes
  • video clips of practice and environment
  • student survey data
  • peer observation notes

Reflection and feedback

  • student conference notes
  • teacher student records
  • student feedback
  • survey data
  • parent-teacher interview notes
  • parent feedback
  • 360 degree feedback
  • peer feedback
  • professional reading log and reflection
  • diary of practice and reflection
  • performance review feedback documentation Student assessment and learning
  • student conference outcomes
  • teacher records of student performance
  • assessment plans
  • assessment schedule
  • assessment tools/tests/strategies
  • student self/peer assessment feedback
  • diagnostic assessments
  • exhibitions/display of student work
  • feedback
  • student outcomes

Collaboration and communication

  • video clips of team teaching
  • resources co-constructed
  • shared with colleagues
  • common assessment tasks
  • team meeting notes
  • online blogs, wikis, discussion forums,
  • meeting logs
  • emails/ letters/correspondence
  • parent teacher interview notes
  • community partnerships and engagement
  • notes meeting logs
  • policy review
  • development notes Personal learning
  • learning plan
  • professional learning journal
  • action research project
  • participation in professional associations
  • professional learning workshops/forums
  • graduate and postgraduate studies

Indicators of learning

  • student interest tools such as gaze tracking, surveys etc
  • anecdotal notes about classroom climate
  • tracking student behaviour
  • questions and discussions
  • student feedback
  • student peer review

Classroom observations

  • lesson observation notes
  • post-observation meeting notes
  • video clips of practice and environment
  • student survey data
  • peer observation notes

Student assessment and learning

  • student conference outcomes
  • teacher records of student performance
  • assessment plans
  • assessment schedule
  • assessment tools/tests/strategies
  • student self/peer assessment feedback
  • diagnostic assessments
  • exhibitions/display of student work
  • feedback
  • student outcomes

Personal learning

  • learning plan
  • professional learning journal
  • action research project
  • participation in professional associations
  • professional learning workshops/forums
  • graduate and postgraduate studies
Reflection

Evaluate your confidence in the use of evidence to support student outcomes. Refer to the previous table for examples of each category.

Categories of evidence

Unsure

Not confident

Confident

Very confident

Teaching and learning programs

Classroom observations

Reflection and feedback

Student assessment and learning

Collaboration and communication

Professional learning

Indicators of learning

Activity

Choose three of your most effective evidence practices and order them below according to their value for teaching and learning. Ensure that you list your justifications for your choices.

Choose three of your least effective evidence practices. Consider how you could change your practice to improve teaching and learning. How could you gain confidence with these practices?

Do you think there is enough diversity within your evidence collection?

What practices could you reduce or remove?

Does your evidence collection provide enough information about student learning?

Classroom observation

Classroom observations are a commonly used method for evaluating teaching practice. Combining classroom teaching observations with useful evidence and timely feedback is a useful strategy for teacher development.

Classroom observation

In your education setting, classroom observation may be an established program. You can also establish informal observation arrangements with colleagues, whether or not an established program is in place.

Further reading How do I engage in classroom observation

What is classroom observation?

Classroom observations are used in different ways across educational environments, sectors and states across Australia. Though the format and processes can vary, some common characteristics include:

  • educators observing each other’s practice (either live or through video), providing feedback and learning from each other to improve their impact on students’ learning
  • focus on improving teacher practice with agreed protocols
  • culture of trust, especially between the teachers observing and being observed
  • alignment with learner needs and school and region/state level priorities
  • commitment to ongoing development of practice to improve teaching and learning
  • draw on skills used in everyday teaching:
    • understanding the context
    • using available evidence
    • providing descriptive, non-judgemental observation
    • maintaining objectivity
    • reducing bias.

Why choose classroom observation?

Classroom observation:

  • provides effective professional learning that emphasises reflection and feedback on practice to improve learning
  • develops teachers’ self-awareness about their own practice and its impact on student learning
  • can help determine professional learning needs at individual and education setting level
  • supports the development of a common understanding of effective teaching practices
  • supports sharing of ideas and expertise among teachers including modelling of good practice
  • provides opportunities to discuss challenges and concerns with colleagues
  • builds whole-setting accountability for the quality of teaching and learning.

Getting started

Be courageous. Identify which areas of your practice would benefit from observation and which of your goals would be informed by it. Talk about your intentions to both observe others and be observed by others, with your colleagues. Then be brave and start!

Be a role model. By inviting others to observe your practice first, you can role model peer-observation within your school. You can work with the peer-feedback materials to help your peers structure the feedback process.

Use technology. Observation does not have to be live. To make it easier, you can film the lesson and let others observe your practice based on the film. You can also use the recording for your own self-reflection.

Collaborate. Once the practice of observation has gained momentum, start a peer-observation group with interested colleagues in your school. Tips for collecting and documenting feedback provides guidance on the feedback following a classroom observation.

Steps to take before an observation

  1. Identify the purpose of the observation
  2. Articulate the focus of the observation
  3. Agree the areas of your practice that will be observed and which of the Standards are relevant
  4. Identify how the observation links to the teacher’s goals
  5. Note any relevant information that would aid the observer, such as lesson plans or teaching objectives
  6. Agree to focus on observable behaviours
  7. Determine how and when feedback will be given
  8. Discuss action steps to follow up or respond to feedback
  9. Agree on confidentiality: how openly will observations be discussed with peers?

As you watch this video, take notes on why classroom observation was introduced at this school and why it was successful.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=naOAnpEIdSc

Video notes

How does the Hillbrook experience connect with, build on and/or differ from what is happening at your education setting now?

Connects with

Builds on

Differs from

What do leaders need to consider?

There are many different approaches and strategies for conducting classroom observation. Classroom observation is a skill and requires practice. It is an exercise that can help promote and facilitate growth by providing opportunities for staff to learn and practice skills. However, classroom observation needs to be considered within the cultural context of the environment.

Set up for success by:

  • Allowing teachers to self-select peers when undertaking classroom observation for the first time
  • Suggesting teachers film themselves to start, evaluating the footage with a mentor or trusted colleague
  • Providing staff with anonymous surveys to address questions and concerns
  • Explicitly map the process with the staff, showing different entry points and levels of support according to staff needs
  • Collaborative opportunities for teachers and leaders to consider the role of pre-conditions that support evaluations (see below).

Evaluations of teaching practice

The effective evaluation of teaching practices is integral to enhancing teaching effectiveness. Teaching evaluation processes require purposeful planning, design and implementation. Teaching evaluation systems will be supported by enablers and a culture that promotes professional growth.

Enablers that support growth-focused evaluations of teaching practice:

  • shared purpose with explicit criteria
  • relational trust
  • leadership/ positive climate
  • evaluative mindset

Why are these enablers important?

These enablers prioritise professional growth and development over a focus on accountability processes. A positive culture creates a safe and supportive environment for teachers to reflect on and grow their practice.

These enablers are reflected in the Australian Teacher Performance and Development Framework (the Framework), which emphasises that teaching effectiveness is related to: a focus on student outcomes, a clear understanding of effective leadership, a flexible and adaptive culture, and coherence between teacher goals and education setting-wide approaches. Complete Module 2a to understand more about the Framework.

Reflection

Consider these conversation starters in relation to your own practice and context or engage in a professional dialogue with a colleague.

Teacher perspective

Team perspective

Leader perspective

Are the expectations of your practice clear and explicit?

Are the expectations of your practice clear and explicit?

Are the expectations of teaching practice clear and explicit?

How are you encouraged to take risks in your practice?

How do you encourage everyone to take risks in their teaching practice?

How does your leadership encourage teachers to take risks in their learning and practice?

Do you get enough opportunities to share your learning?

Do you integrate opportunities to share practice within your team processes?

Have you facilitated systemic opportunities for teachers to share their learning?

How does your education setting encourage research, enquiry and rigorous discussion?

How does your team encourage research, enquiry and rigorous discussion?

What is your role in encouraging research, enquiry and rigorous discussion?

Where do professional development processes use language and structure to support a growth-based culture?

Where do professional development processes use language and structure to support a growth-based culture?

Where do professional development processes use language and structure to support a growth-based culture?

After your collegial conversation, answer the questions below.

Which enablers are strong within your context?

Which enablers could be developed further within your context?

What are some possible obstacles/challenges to embedding these enablers?

How can you use this information to move forward?

Activity

Consider how you can embed observations by identifying and overcoming obstacles. Unchallenged obstacles will block progress unless they are directly addressed, but remember that solutions can start small. Keep this record and return to it as you come across more obstacles. You may find that a reflective journal helps.

Obstacles

Examples of solutions

Professional conversation

Conduct research

Test a strategy

Example: I am the only teacher at my kindergarten. How do I find a way to use observation in my practice?

I can reach out to my leader or trusted colleague and ask for support/advice.

I can read about the different iterations of observations, such as filming myself.

I can record a teaching session and share with another teacher in a different setting for feedback.

Resources and downloads

Resources about observation

Resources about shared purpose

Resources about relational trust

Resources about leadership

Resources about evaluative mindset

Next steps

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