Te aromihi pouako e puta ai ngā ihu o ngā ākonga Māori

Tools from national professional development projects for analysing individual teachers’ practice

This section presents resources, from previous national professional development projects, that were vital for analysing teachers’ practice and planning their professional learning. (Note that the Te Kotahitanga observation tool, discussed in the section on Te Kotahitanga, serves a similar function.)

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Atol capabilities matrix

The Assessment to Learn (AToL) project is founded on the statement in The New Zealand Curriculum that the “primary purpose of assessment is to improve students’ learning and teachers’ teaching as both student and teacher respond to the information that it provides” (Ministry of Education, 2007, page 39). Within the project, Evaluation Associates developed a matrix that teachers and school leaders can use to assess teachers in six of the capabilities needed to ensure that assessment is used for learning. Those capabilities are:

  • Building learning-focused relationships
  • Being clear about what is to be learnt
  • Assessment literacy
  • Promoting further learning
  • Active reflection
  • Clarity about next learning steps.

Because the matrix describes four stages of competency within each capability, it gives users a clear understanding of what is required to translate theoretical understandings about good assessment practice into actual teaching practice. Videos and classroom demonstrations contribute to establishing these understandings.

Teachers in AToL collaborate in analysing videotaped recordings of their classroom practice and deciding where to place themselves on the matrix. The observation process includes student interviews that give insights into students’ understandings of their lessons.

Case 4 of the Teacher Professional Learning and Development BES (Timperley et al., 2007) describes the capabilities matrix and the model of professional development built around it. The case shows how the routines around this tool support teachers to transfer their learning to their own practice.

The LPDP observation tool

The Literacy Professional Development Project (LPDP) observation tool was designed to facilitate discussions around classroom observations in which teachers are supported to identify their strengths and potential areas for growth. As the Protocols for needs-analysis classroom observations reveal, observations in the LPDP also informed learning at the whole-school level. When schools entered the project, the facilitator, principal, and literacy leaders conducted a needs analysis, which included using information from the observations to “identify syndicate and school wide patterns of teaching strengths and professional learning needs” and “identify sites of effective practice”. This information was used to make decisions about the kinds of literacy pedagogical content knowledge that needed to be built. The intention was that observations become a regular part of school life to inform inquiry into teacher impact, so that teachers’ goals and next learning steps are constantly refined. For this reason, classroom observations were also used to inform inquiry into the impact of teachers’ changed actions.

The Protocols for needs-analysis classroom observations also describe the way in which facilitators scaffolded school leaders in learning to lead the observations themselves. The first stage of this involved leaders who were also classroom teachers being observed themselves. The second stage involved training in how to conduct practice analysis (or feedback) conversations that are genuinely co-constructed. In such conversations, evidence about the lesson’s impact on the students is used to prompt teachers to reflect about what happened and what their own next learning steps may be. The LPDP had a further set of protocols for observing teaching practice and conducting the practice analysis conversations.

The observation tool was found to be effective in conveying messages across the system (from the Ministry of Education and LPDP project leaders and facilitators to school leaders and teachers) and was well used by facilitators and school leaders (Timperley and Parr, 2009).

The tool consists of a template with prompts to ensure that an observation includes a ‘transcript’ of teacher practice – that is, full notes of what happened without any evaluation being made – and interviews with students about how the lesson affected their learning. The tool also has a brief list of observable aspects of effective literacy practice to be used as a guide in evaluating effectiveness. Here is the link to information about the Literacy professional development project (LPDP)

You can read more about the principles underpinning LPDP’s observation tool by downloading the research summary 

Effective facilitation: Understanding and improving learning conversations with teachers (PDF, 406 KB)

Resources from the Numeracy Development Projects

The focus of the Numeracy Development Projects was improving student performance in mathematics through improving the professional capability of teachers. Research and evaluation within the national project ensured that, over time, it adapted to reflect its developing understandings about mathematics learning and effective professional development.

At the core of the Numeracy Projects was the Number Framework, established to help teachers, parents, and students understand the requirements of the Number knowledge and Number strategies sections of The New Zealand Curriculum.

Early on in the project, basic guidelines and support for classroom observations were provided for participants. These are most helpful when used with suggested approaches for exploring what an effective numeracy environment looks like, particularly the Effective Classroom Example.

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