We are going through a bit of a review and revisioning of our appraisal system. One of the big drivers for me was to ensure that our appraisal approach was deeply rooted in our school’s vision:
Empowering agency, innovation and leadership.
Our vision is not just for our students learners, it is central to how we operate and learn as a community of learners and includes the board, staff and of course our students.
The seeds for change have been germinating for a while. If you have read any of my previous posts and reflections they are all about clarifying and acting on my commitment to a more personalised approach for professional learning that is rich in teacher voice and choice. That initiative is underway and parallel to the thinking behind that has been the thoughts of what if we took that philosophy and applied it to our appraisal process? What would it look like when we personalised this for staff and incorporated choice?
Let’s wind back the clock for a second… our appraisal system is not currently broken, it serves it’s purpose in supporting staff to grow in their capability and effectiveness, provides evidence to supports the renewal of their practicing certificate, has teacher inquiry as its foundation and includes a 1-1 coaching element. It ticks off the ‘requirements’ from the Ministry for Performance Management in Schools and the Education Council’s Requirements for the Appraisal of Teachers.
However, when one listens to the voices of the staff one hears murmurings that improvements can be made, especially after the leadership team had completed the ‘mid-year’ appraisals in 2017. As such the leadership team sat down and reviewed the process and the drivers for doing what we do. Some of the main learnings from the process were that there was no opportunity to staff be truely agentic, for the process to be personalised and there was not choice – it was very much a top down approach – and thus the seeds were sown…
It was around this time that I discovered the thinking of Katie Martin and in particular her thoughts on personalised professional learning. Her post Create Your Own Adventure (Professional Learning That Shifts Practice Part 5) really got me thinking and has also influenced my thinking around our PLD approach. The create your own adventure approach, or as I refer to it, a pick-a-path approach – just great! So, how could this planning be applied to appraisal?
So from here the planning began and initially I was thinking all circles rather than the table a like Katie’s. If you could imagine the first ring was the why, the second ring was the how etc. and they were moveable so you rotated each ring until your pathway was in a straight line. But time got the best of me and a table it was.
Below is version 2 (link to Google Doc). Probably a good time to reinforce that the approach is first and foremost about supporting teacher growth. Accountability is important but not a key driver. The headings explained:
- Career Pathway: Long/short term goal for staff to consider, and may indicate potential goal around leadership or curriculum area etc to build in to appraisal.
- Vision: Which element of our school vision do you perhaps need to strengthen in your own practice?
- Values: Which one of our school values do you know you need to deepen your understanding of?
- Standard: The compliance aspect. Either which one do you need to get better at, or, which one/ones relate to my emerging appraisal goals?
- Who: Who would you like to appraise you?
- How: What approach or approaches would you like to be incorporated into your appraisal?
- When: How often, how responsive?
I presented this to staff at our retreat. The reaction was favourable and certainly initiated some great dialogue. When we explored the pathway, I asked them to choose just one from each column but that is not at all how I would envisage it rolling out.
After our initial discussion staff then planned it out and what it could look like over the year – a timeline of what appraisal looks like when it is personalised and embraces a personalised pathway. More to come on that.
I think this is pretty exciting stuff and really look forward to what the system will look like after I have collated the planning from teachers and we mould it into a workable system that:
- helps teachers grow
- meets all requirements/expectations for appraisal.
Final thoughts… if you drew a picture of your appraisal approach would it be hierarchal or networked? Which one allows for personalisation and agency?