Teacher Appraisal and our learnings from UK and Finland

By: Admin 17 April, 2019

Appraisal is mostly used in corporates as a tool to look at the performance of an employee in the year gone by. A good performance is rewarded by tools such as salary hike and/or assigning responsibilities of increased importance or a bigger team.  Can we create a similar structure in the school for the teachers, we visited few international schools with this questions, lets look at some of our findings     

Some basic questions which have arised are:

A corporate works to stay sustainable and profitable and its goal is to generate profit for its share holders, a school is created with the intention of well being of society and not with a profit motive, how then we draw a parallel

In corporate, everything can be mapped back to its main motive that is creating profit where will it lead back to in case of a teacher.

Corporates use tools like 3600degree approach, are such things possible in a school, if yes who all will be the stakeholders for them.

Start of the Journey

A group of 8 head teachers from different cities of India went to Middlesbrough& Ripon (2 beautiful cities near Manchester) in United Kingdom for week long trip with the intention of learning some very specific things from the schools there, they were joined by 4 Finnish educators there in Middlesbrough.

   

Each of these head teachers have been asked to answer 2 questions

  1. What challenges your current profile brings to you.
  2. Which of these challenges would you like to take on in next 6 months

basis the answers to above questions, the learning priority of each individual was identified. The group was divided in team of two and each team was assigned a school in the above mentioned cities and a mentor was also mapped to them.

The structure of the program necessitates the mentor to look at the learning priorities of the mentees and designed their learning schedule in such a way that it exposes them to all the dimensions of implementing a particular process.

One of the participants was Ms. Monisha. Datta who choose her learnings priorities to be around Teacher Appraisal and creating Teacher competency. She was assigned the school named Nunthorpe Academy” and Ms. Nicky Smith, Assistant Vice Principal - North East Schools Teaching Alliance was assigned as a mentor to her.

During her stint at the nunthorpe academy, Ms. Monisha. had sessions with various stakeholders of the schools which included the CEO, Executive Principal, Vice Principal

Some of the fundamental questions which we addressed and tried to understand through our stint in the school are

  1. What do we achieve from teacher appraisal or why should we do it
  1. Who has the ability to appraise or who would be able to appraise a teacher? Should it be teacher herself or any mentor or reviewer above it.
  1. A teacher play the role of curriculum planner, administrator, mentor, counsellor, student assessor, educator, artist etc – How do you appraise a person with such multiple roles, are there any formats and procedures which can ease up such a complicated task and one of the moot questions was
  1. What is the role of leadership/top management in designing and functioning of an effective appraisal process.

While all these questions and many such more comparing the Indian systems with British and Finnish system have been taken in an online lecture series taken up by her (click here to attend it). We will take up few of the pointers in this article

1. First thing first – why should we get into such a troublesome and hard to quantify process, what do we achieve from teacher appraisal

  • Teacher appraisal is a mechanism for improving teaching and learning – the ultimate aim behind the existence of the school
  • A teachers’ professional competence and conscientiousness are the keys to the delivery of quality education in schools and in a well designed staff appraisal system the instruments and procedures can constitute valuable professional development for teachers which can also do wonders for her motivation and performance.
  • It will not allow the students to fall through the cracks hence improving the overall accountability of school towards parents.

2. Who has the ability to appraise or who would be able to appraise a teacher? Should it be teacher herself or any mentor or reviewer above it ?

Lets start with some characteristics of the appraisal system

  • Teachers are given set goals and are made aware of the parameters they would be evaluated on.(An interesting terminology is that a teacher has been given the task to achieve a class target of zero or more)
  • Teachers are observed twice in a year - Beginning of the year&End of the year, similarly their books are looked at twice a year.
  • Teachers are given mentors to guide them on regular basis
  • Over the mentor is the head, who holds equal responsibility for teacher development
  • Regular walk-through is there and a calender is made for continuous training and up-gradation of the teacher

For every 10 teachers there is a line manager, above the line managers are senior managers and above them is the school head. A brief organogram is here

Apart from the above system, the process also has an element of self appraisal by teachers, the same has been discussed in webinar in detail.

3. Structure and formats to bring clarity into the process

Since there are people involved at different levels, it requires clear formats

This can be divided into 3 broad steps

Step 1: Setting Expectations for teachers on which their performance will be measured and appraised

TS1: Set high expectations which inspire, motivate and challenge pupils

TS2. Promote good progress and outcomes by pupils

TS3. Demonstrate good subject and curriculum knowledge

TS4. Plan and teach well-structured lessons.

TS5. Adapt teaching to respond to the strengths and needs of all pupils

TS6. Make accurate and productive use of assessment

TS7. Manage behaviour effectively to ensure a good and safe learning environment

TS8. Fulfilling wider professional responsibilities

  

(Teacher’s standards 1- Format – attend the webinar to access other formats)

Step 2: Constantly monitor and evaluate these parameters- Teachers are observed twice a year and their books are also looked twice a year

Step 3: Conduct Weekly Meetings on teacher progress which should:

  • Identify evidence of pupil progress and learning over time using the full range of evidence, including lesson observations
  • Discuss what differences the teachers’ teaching has made and why
  • Identify areas of strength and areas for development for the teachers
  • Be mapped to the Teacher’s standards and the grade descriptors (as given in the above examples)
  • Review and identify short and longer-term targets to improve the quality of the teachers’ teaching and the impact they have on pupils’ progress and learning over time.

Now the final point

  1. Role of leadership and top management

Leaders have to set high standards of pupils and staff and they lead by example. Eg. Corridor duties in UK system, they are expected to do the following things in

  • School leaders monitor the below level students progress so as to promote improvement efficiency. Eg. Head teacher has the power to negate a high performance report given by line manager or senior manager if the class performance is not achieved by the teacher.
  • Leaders help in monitoring and planning actions which improve school performance

  • Leaders use high quality professional development to encourage and support teacher development. Continuous hand-holding and clear goal setting done with the Line managers.

Leaders regularly interact with the parents, pupils and staff, so as to keep the school improving. After coming back from the program, MsMonisha is now implementing these processes into her school in Dehradun. She has been in constant touch with the mentors in UK and has graciously agreed to share her learning with the other school leaders by creating an online lecture series and and also to allow interested school leaders to come and visit her school and watch the process live in action.