Breakout Session 5 - 17th September at 12:30 - 1:10

Developing a whole school approach to lesson observation that places trust at the centre of lesson observation and post observation conversation

Presenter/s: James Heneghan
Type: Leadership story
Keywords: Observation, dialogic, trust-centred
Room: Auaha Hīhī


A part of being able to meaningfully discuss and “know” classroom practice stems from observing practice. Wider research literature suggesting that where teachers can view each other’s practice, discuss that practice and collaboratively consider next steps, it is helpful as a support of improving teaching and learning, reducing teacher variability, increasing engagement with school-wide approaches and increasing relational trust.

At the same time the observation of teaching practice is described in staffrooms across the world and in research literature as a source of uncertainty for teachers. At Long Bay College we recognised our approaches need to be considerate of that uncertainty as we sought to live, walk, and empower our professional learning culture of “improving not proving”. The development of that culture a tenant of our schools strategic plan and of consultation across our teaching staff. Subsequently we developed a dialogic approach to lesson observation and post lesson observation conversation that supports growth focused development of classroom practice through the lens of our school’s educational philosophy.

We believe that our approach is scalable and could with careful consideration be applied to other school settings. Extension to other settings needing to place a high value on securing fidelity of approach through exemplars and modelling, clear communication with the wider staff, a responsiveness to feedback from staff involved and critically a commitment by leaders to openly model and share their teaching practice and to place a high value on the opportunity and privilege of discussing classroom practice with their professional peers. Those discussions empowering our middle and senior leaders in their ability to understand, engage and empower teachers to develop high efficacy teaching and learning.

This session describes the development and iteration of our approach as we seek to nurture a culture of outstanding teaching and learning at our school.


James Heneghan

James Heneghan is Deputy Principal at Long Bay College with responsibility for the schools development and delivery of Curriculum. James immigrated to New Zealand in 2008 and is originally from East London in the United Kingdom. He started his teaching career in 2003 in Southampton. Prior to working at Long Bay College James worked in various Senior and Middle leadership roles in schools on Auckland’s North Shore. James lives rurally, north of Auckland with his family.