Teacher Performance and Development


Aligning Teacher Performance and DevelopmenT Processes

Written by Toni Riordan, Deputy Principal and published in Independent Schools Queensland 'Catalyst' Magazine (Winter Edition) 

Click here to read ISQ's Catalyst magazine


It is no wonder that today’s teachers feel as if the educational ‘bar’ not only continues to be raised but to be frequently shifting focus. Queensland teachers experience ambiguous expectations related to the Australian Curriculum; the drive to educate for innovation; the need to incorporate coding into the curriculum; to ‘flip’ classrooms; blend learning and to be ready for external assessment of our senior students in just a few years’ time. It is therefore imperative that teachers in independent schools can trust that their places of work are developing genuine cultures of teacher performance and development, which allow teachers to really know their classroom practice through the analysis of reliable and valid feedback; to collaborate with peers and instructional leaders to understand their performance; to set goals for further development; and to ultimately encourage and engage staff in the core business of schools, because it is the interaction between teaching and learning that will always occur no matter what the educational landscape looks like the further we journey into the 21st century.


St Aidan’s Anglican Girls’ School joined the ISQ Strategy program in early 2015. The program provides a consultation service to school leaders to assist the school’s focus on building quality teaching. To date, we have had access to information, strategies and resources to build the foundations of a positive teacher performance and development within an overall implementation framework. The specific aim of St Aidan’s strategy is to incorporate the 360-degree teacher feedback tool for professional learning, Educator Impact to enhance teacher engagement in our school’s professional learning framework.

St Aidan’s Anglican Girls’ School was established as an Anglican Independent Day School in 1929 by the Sisters of the Society of the Sacred Advent and is now one of two schools operated by the Sisters. Located in the western suburb of Corinda, in Brisbane, St Aidan’s is well known for its focus on academic excellence, quality learning and teaching and commitment to pastoral care.

St Aidan’s provides for the education of approximately 750 girls from Prep to Year 12 with a co-educational Kindergarten.

As a school, we value learning. The Mission of St Aidan's is to provide excellence in education, in a caring, friendly environment, where each individual, nurtured and shaped by the values of the Christian Faith, has the opportunity to achieve her full potential and to develop a passion for life and for learning. The Vision of St Aidan’s nurtures each student’s personal aspirations within a vibrant learner-centred community.


At the same time I commenced my tenure as Deputy Principal at St Aidan’s last year, the school was focused on its renewed Strategic Plan (2014-2018). One of the broader dimensions of the Strategic Plan, ‘Inspiring Professionals’ includes the key intention to: develop a reflective practice and feedback culture whereby teachers assist each other to improve teaching practice. The leadership team at St Aidan’s had investigated the value of Educator Impact (EI) and coupled with my experience in trialling the tool in a previous school, came to the conclusion that EI appeared to be offering a conduit to provide feedback to teachers that we believed would help us to continue to develop a strong teacher performance and development culture.

St Aidan’s had spent the years preceding the Strategic Plan renewal with whole-school attention on the professional learning culture, which is clearly reflected in the St Aidan’s Professional Learning Framework, developed in 2012. At the commencement of the EI program at St Aidan’s, the leadership team recognised that teachers were used to performance and development processes such as staff annual reviews; professional goal setting and participation in ‘pedagogical rounds’ as either teacher-demonstrators, teacher-observers or observer group facilitators but we knew we had to determine the ‘health’ of the teacher performance and development culture at the school, as identified by its teaching staff.

With the assistance of the ISQ School Support Officer assigned to our school as part of the Strategy program, the Independent Schools Queensland’s Performance and Development Culture Reflection was administered to teaching staff on the July 2015 Staff Professional Learning Day. Eighty percent of the teaching population reflected on statements relating to the school context, leadership and language of teacher performance and development, goal setting, working towards goals and ongoing reflection and review. While the majority of staff agreed or strongly agreed that St Aidan’s was developing a strong culture of teacher performance, development and professional learning, there were some gaps evident in this imperative. On-going, improvement-focused and accurate feedback was strongly desired, as was a more transparent and accountable way to work towards professional goals based on student achievement. Staff at St Aidan’s and the ISQ Officer were satisfied that using EI as a feedback tool would align effectively with the AITSL Australian Professional Standards for Teachers, acknowledging that EI comprehensively maps the AITSL standards to their observation competencies and clearly reports the school’s feedback mapped to the AITSL standards. This alignment would allow St Aidan’s to work towards better professional feedback, more targeted goal-setting and ultimately to improved learning outcomes for students.

As part of the second step of the Strategy program at St Aidan’s, we wanted to develop and implement sustainable, evidence-based strategies to incorporate Educator Impact into our current performance and development practices. An initial pilot group was established to trial the use of EI in Term 1 of 2015. Twelve teachers volunteered to join me in ‘trying out’ each aspect of the EI tool.  This pilot group consisted of early adopters, with a range of years of teaching experience, an even spread of primary and secondary teachers, with secondary teachers representing a diverse range of secondary school subjects. From the onset, participants were consulted in order to establish timelines of the trial and how to report progress to staff. They had opportunities to discuss and debate the strengths and challenges that EI brought to our professional learning practice and they trialled various models of peer observer groupings as well as different time management strategies to complete EI tasks. The outcomes of this trial was so positive, with the pilot group offering valuable insight into how best to organise time for pre- post- and peer observations; how to guide students through their participation in providing feedback to teachers and how to analyse the feedback summary reports, that the leadership team decided to establish a second trial group, commencing in Term 2, 2015, so that it could ‘try out’ the suggestions for improved implementation of EI put forward by the first trial group.

Meanwhile, a sizeable group of staff was developing, with a strong understanding of the EI tool and were available for consultation with the leadership team and the ISQ officer towards September of last year. Discussion was facilitated to determine how this group felt about the common understanding of student learning expectations at St Aidan’s; if they could note any cultural change; if they could detect an alignment of practices and what they perceived as challenges to successful implementation of teacher performance and development strategies. Meetings were minuted and shared with the wider staff, inviting further consultation, prior to establishing a team of interested staff from the trial groups to work with me to develop documentation and timelines for full implementation of Educator Impact in 2016.

The small team of teachers, referred to as the EI Focus Group met regularly in Term 4 in 2015 to develop the procedures, deadlines and accompanying documentation. The group assisted in establishing the protocols required for teachers to collect feedback using Educator Impact; it to proposed practical suggestions to find the time in our busy meetings schedule, required for reflective practice and collegial discussions based on feedback summary reports and finally, it demonstrated teacher-leadership by its members facilitating Introductory EI workshops for all staff conducted during the December Professional Learning Days last year. The first half of 2016 has seen St Aidan’s complete the data collection and goal-setting phases of the Educator Impact program. 


The first half of 2016 has seen St Aidan’s complete the data collection and goal setting phases of our performance and development program. We now look forward to an upcoming staff meeting in which our school summary of EI feedback data will be closely examined. We also intend to revisit ISQ’s Professional Growth Tool in July this year so that we can compare staff perception data with our benchmark data from the previous year. We hope to measure some closing gaps identified by teachers, concerning professional feedback and more effective goal setting. Finally, we look forward to inviting teachers to share their learnings with leadership team members during the annual review process towards the end of the year. As we anticipate these considerable school-wide tasks, we can take stock now and consider a year’s work on teacher performance and development and note some very positive outcomes already. Below are some reflections from teachers:

Participants’ comments:

  • The EI competencies are relevant and are a great tool to identify the strengths and areas for improvement as we move into the next stage – implementing goals.

  • I found data collection very straight forward. I found the questions were quite easy to understand and comment on.

  • Evidence-based feedback to set goals for future development is a simple process (if we don’t complicate it for ourselves!).

  • I think the process for me was useful as I was more conscious of my teacher practice and in a sense was doing a bit of a checklist as I planned and conducted my lessons. The feedback was constructive and my suggested area for improvement was what I had identified, so this will definitely be a focus for next term.


With an understanding that quite a few Queensland independent schools are trialling EI to support teacher performance and development, it is hoped the following suggestions for implementation might help others in some way:

  • To manage the snapshot/one moment-in-time nature of the EI data collected, we planned “dialogue” time around peer observations. We took note of Brookhart and Moses’ work that what makes feedback collegial is the dialogue in the context of a relationship; “it involves joint work in the service of student learning” (Brookhart & Moses, 2015: 30). Pre- and post-observation conversations were scheduled into teachers’ task-completion timelines.

  • We made concerted efforts to have staff see the “leader as learner” during the trial and implementation phases of teacher performance and development processes. Vivianne Robinson (2014) found that the school leader who makes the biggest impact on learning is the one who participates as a learner with teachers in helping move the school forward. Initially, I trialled with the pilot groups, sharing the experiences of colleagues and being present to listen to suggestions in my role as Deputy Principal. This year, most senior leaders have completed EI tasks on the same timeline as others.

  • Planned consultation was key. Prior to commencing the two trials, pilot groups determined how and when they would report progress to staff. Creating a small focus group to work closely with the Deputy to formulate procedures and protocols for implementation was highly effective.

  • While committing time is always the greatest challenge for professional development, as a school we were prepared to “beg, steal and borrow” from weekly events such as assembly time, our faculty meeting schedule and whole-staff meetings to prioritise completion of TP&D tasks.

  • Peer observer pairs or small groups of teachers were devised through secondary faculty teams and year groupings of primary teachers. We trialled various groupings of observers and decided that the greatest purpose EI served our staff was to capture the shared understanding of classroom practice. It is intended that individual teachers’ goals written to develop areas for improvement will inform faculty and primary teaching team goals (and vice versa).

  • We carefully planned our communication to parents and students regarding the use of EI and instigated some parameters around students’ involvement in completing feedback surveys for teachers. For instance, we didn’t want to create survey fatigue for our girls. We consider EI to be a useful tool for teachers to be able to model a way of learning collaboratively with evidence-based feedback so therefore wanted students’ initial experience with the program to be as positive as possible.


Walking alongside all stakeholders thoughtfully and considerately, while perhaps slowing down the pace of implementation, has undoubtedly aided the teacher performance and development strategy at St Aidan’s and its endeavours to incorporate EI into its current professional learning framework. “Walking the talk” as leaders of learning has been key to our participation in ISQ’s Strategy program. 


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Australian Institute for Teaching and Leadership (AITSL) (2012). Australian Charter for the Professional Learning of Teachers and School Leaders, Melbourne Vic.

Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) (2012). Australian Teacher Performance and Development Framework, Melbourne Vic.

Brookhart, S.M & Moss, C.M (2015) How to Give Professional Feedback in Educational Leadership, April 2015: 24–30.

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