Tag Archives: pathway

Progress re ‘Pick Your Own’ Appraisals

Our pick your own pathway approach to staff appraisals is all up and running now after having the complete process put under the ERO review microscope last term. The outcome is an approach that embraces our school vision and additionally ticks off the compliance aspects of teacher appraisal.

For me the first outcome was the most important, that our appraisal reinforces our school vision empowering agency, innovation and leadership. The second of being compliant i.e. a vehicle for teachers to renew and/or become a fully certified teacher, is actually pretty important for the teachers too! However, I am conscious of any compliance conflicting with opportunities for empowerment and I often want to go for the pureness of empowerment without compromise! Check the graphic below or this great clip for more in this strand of thinking. Maybe a hint of disobedience here too.

Empower: What Happens When Students Own Their Learning by John Spencer & A.J. Juliani

So what are the additional processes that took place before the system went live? Beyond those outlined in the last post, here are the highlights:

First was the underpinning/official Teacher Appraisal Procedure. The purpose of this document is to clearly outline the beliefs that drive the approach and the full process. This provides all stakeholders and interested parties i.e. appraisee, appraiser, BOT, ERO, with a robust transparent framework where they can be assured that their co-constructed views have been incorporated, as well as the compliance aspects.

This procedure is unique to our schools as as far as I know, we are alone in using an approach like this, and also because the beliefs that guided it and are incorporated throughout were co-constructed with staff. Here is an example of how we went about clarifying our drivers and other elements of the process – two simple questions which were then prioritised = ownership, buy in, voice, valued…

Secondly, reference in the appraisal procedure is made to an Appraisal Plan and Summary template. This document combines both of these steps. Initially it is to be completed by the appraisee and a member of the leadership team to set the appraisal up, and then by the appraisee and appraiser to guide how the personalised process rolls out over the year, and to provide a summary report at the end of the year, the later an important compliance step.

Update number three relates to the starting point for the appraisal, the pick your own pathway doc. This has gone to version #3 now and has incorporated teacher inquiry (don’t know why that was ever left off my previous versions especially considering my older posts like this one…) into the process as well as a reshuffle of the order to prioritise our school’s vision and values over the standards for the teaching profession. Maybe TAI and the standards may do a swap in future versions.

Staff were asked to make a copy of the doc and complete it by ticking on those areas that they would like to be included in your appraisal, or at least part of the set-up discussion. These would normally be areas that they need to work on, or have a particular professional interest in. They had to tick at least one in each column but could tick more than one in any column as required. Staff were also encouraged to also add in any aspect that is not already there.

Finally, rather than having a meeting to outline and discuss the appraisal  ‘system’, the leadership team suggested a video/screencast of the process was the way to go. This attempt was well received – I am not going to be a YouTube sensation but it did allow staff to understanding the approach and do so in their own time and follow up face to face with any questions.

Learnings to date? Several…

  • Staff were released to complete the set-up and appraisal plan. Very appreciated and worthwhile – gives it the value it requires. If it’s important – fund it!
  • When discussing the pick-your-own pathway, don’t discuss and confirm the last three columns (who, how, when) until you have confirmed the goals. The goals will often direct these aspects, especially the who (thanks for this great tip Nic).
  • Video/screencast approach is a winner and we will look to grow this semi flipped  approach more especially in light of being a no staff meeting school.
  • Need to reinforce more the working smart approach. Teachers are busy people and as such learning that they are already doing (i.e. ongoing TAIs in the classroom, professional learning) should be the basis of the appraisal goals. The goals shouldn’t be anything extra and should enhance these areas of growth. This is not inherently clear in the pick-a-path process, yet.
  • Future thinking re the pick-your-own pathway is somehow linking/initiating it through a probing reflective questionnaire (based on the column headings & content) that then magically spits out the priority areas/work ons, kind of like an e-asTTle dashboard i.e. an interactive online smart tool that helps you to pick-your-own pathway, or an app for your device.

 

Pick your own Appraisal Pathway

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…

https://katielmartin.com

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:

  1. helps teachers grow
  2. 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?

Hierarchal Networked