Unpacking your conditions: Collegial engagement in classrooms

The QTU and DET developed the Joint Statement on Collegial Engagement in Classrooms in 2011 to help teachers improve pedagogical practice and student learning outcomes through schemes of classroom observation and feedback based on professional trust and mutual respect.

The purpose of collegial engagement in classrooms is to provide collegial feedback to teachers to assist reflection on, and improvement in, their professional practice.

Under this joint statement (https://www.qtu.asn.au/collections/awards-and-agreements/joint-dete-eq-statements/det-qtu-joint-statement-collegial-engagement-classrooms-nov-2015/), classroom observations and walk-throughs are not supervisory and are not used for the purpose of appraisal. The process is not about assessing teacher performance, and is not part of MUP – in fact it is entirely separate. It is not intended to prevent the ad hoc involvement of school leaders in classroom activities.

Establishing a scheme of collegial engagement

  • Place it on the agenda of the LCC – ask to review or formalise the current arrangement in the school.
  • Define purpose, i.e. provide collegial feedback, not supervisory.
  • Reflect on and build in the fundamental principles of collegial engagement in classrooms:
    • positive engagement between school leaders and teachers
    • recognition of classroom teachers’ professional expertise, the exercise of professional judgment and range of effective teaching practices
    • the involvement of school leaders and heads of programs
    • a collaborative process to enable reflection on teaching practice.
  • Identify elements of the scheme – i.e. does the scheme include walk-throughs, classroom observations, peer coaching, model lessons. 
  • Identify who (what positions) will conduct the walk-throughs/observations. 
  • Be clear about what each form of collegial engagement will involve – ensure the practices of observation are consistent with the principles.
    • e.g. Walk-throughs:
      • agreed purpose, i.e. what will you be looking for – is it about having a presence, is it about WALT and WILF, is it about BM, how information is collected – and in what form
      • prior notice
      • does not include sitting down and observing
      • does not include taking over lessons
      • will include feedback – whether to teaching staff as a whole or year levels/subject levels or individual teachers (the form of feedback should be agreed).
    • Lesson observations: 
      • timing and frequency to be negotiated
      • purpose to be agreed
      • feedback to be given – form of feedback should also be agreed, including an agreed template by which teachers receive it
      • agreement on who observes, e.g. school leaders, heads of programs, pedagogical coaches, team teachers etc.
      • agreed model to the observation, e.g. pre-conference, lesson observation, post conference to occur all on the same day
      • workload implications and how they will be managed, i.e. school leaders need to support this process with teacher release so that feedback is timely etc.
  • Agree on the frequency of modes of collegial engagement, i.e. how often will lesson observations occur, how regularly will walk-throughs be conducted.
  • Consult on the process – the program must be considered by the LCC where required to have one, or other consultative mechanisms for small schools. Consultation is not limited to the LCC – all members affected should have the opportunity to provide input.
  • Agreement re process should be reached by consensus at the LCC.
  • Publish and implement.
  • Review - the LCC should review the scheme regularly (the role of the LCC includes review and evaluation on any reform, it is not limited to the initial consideration of a reform).

Use of data from collegial engagement

Classroom observations and walk-throughs are not to be supervisory in nature, therefore the data collected from this process should be used to support teacher development.

The data should inform practice, not drive it. It can assist schools with how best to direct professional development budgets and other resources.

Successful schemes of collegial engagement in classrooms:

  • are developmental in nature
  • are built on professional trust and mutual respect
  • include honest feedback
  • are applied consistently.

Kate Ruttiman,
Deputy General Secretary (Member Services)

Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 122 No 2, 10 March 2017, p11