Classroom observations of teachers
Adopted by the AEU SA Branch Council on 5 June 2021
The Australian Education Union (SA Branch) is committed to improving student learning outcomes through professional collaboration between appropriately qualified and experienced teachers.
The values of professional trust, respect and courtesy should underpin how all educators engage in the classroom observation process.
The aim of teacher observation in the classroom is to contribute to the development of a professional education workforce. Teacher observation supports teachers to self-reflect on their teaching practice and to continue to develop as education professionals. It is also reliant on adequate resourcing so that it does not increase workload.
Classroom observation is intended to provide collegial feedback to teachers to assist them to reflect on and improve their professional practice. It is not about compliance or assessment of teacher performance. School leaders exercising line management responsibilities promote, develop and support effective pedagogies in various ways, including classroom observation and feedback.
The Department for Education’s Performance and Development Policy states that the responsibility of leaders is to: “Observe the professional practice of employees and provide authentic feedback openly and respectfully with employees.”
Effective performance development is built on trust and respectful professional relationships.
A pre-observation discussion with the teacher who is to be observed will include:
- Who the person to conduct the observation will be;
- Purpose of the observation;
- Aims of the lesson/learning activities to be observed;
- Negotiation of when and how long the observation will be; and
- How and when feedback about the observation will be provided.
This Policy is not intended to prevent a line manager, leader or other staff member visiting a classroom/learning area for routine administrative matters or to participate in learning with the approval of the teacher. In schools with a respectful culture and where trust in leadership is high, the informal visit can contribute to learning.
Classroom observations to be undertaken by anyone other than a colleague chosen by the teacher, a line manager or a site leader must be negotiated with, and agreed to, by the teacher being observed.
Observations conducted as part of any formal process of Managing Significant Underperformance is separate from and outside the reach of this Policy.
Links to AEU Strategic Plan:
Democracy: We value democratic processes and structures in our union and in our public education system.
Quality: We value high quality public education which is free, secular and accessible to all.
Professional autonomy: We value the right for our professional voice to be heard and respected.
Safety: We value safe working, teaching and learning environments.
Collaboration: We value collaboration between unions and within educational contexts at a local, state, federal and global level.
Distributive leadership: We value our union leaders in workplaces across the state and value educational leadership throughout our public education system.
This Policy applies to all AEU members.
Legislation, Regulation and other AEU policy:
Public sector employees will at all times treat other persons with respect and courtesy. (Code of Ethics for the South Australian Public Sector)
Role of AEU Members:
Participate in the development of site based, classroom observation policy that is based on AEU policy and minimum employer requirements.
Time must be provided for pre-observation discussion and feedback, in addition to minimum NIT as described in the Enterprise Agreement.
For peer observations, the teacher decides on the purpose and timing of observation and the manner and timing of feedback to be provided.
It is not unreasonable for your line manager or site leader to observe your classroom practice; however, timing and purpose must be negotiated and clearly outlined.
Two years from endorsement at Branch Council (June 2023).