Once upon a time, teacher appraisal was pretty much a box-ticking exercise. Individual teachers were given a sheaf of papers with spaces to write in and it was generally done in a great flurry of observations and meetings held at the end of the school year.
In our school the next iteration of this, a few years ago, was the moving of appraisal documentation to OneNote. Teachers shared their documents with the Senior Leader and their appraiser and used OneNote to curate evidence of their meeting the 12 Practising Teacher Criteria and to inform conversation with their appraiser. The boxes were still printed and ticked on paper though – AND there was still the end of year flurry.
Over the last two years as a fully BYOD and GAFE school we have dispensed with the pile of paper and the box ticking exercise in favour of continuous curation of evidence on Classic Google Sites, using templates to align areas of teacher performance and the Practising Teacher Criteria.
There is minimal paper involved – an Appraisal Summary Document is generated and printed for all parties to sign at the end of the annual process. The next move will be to replace the templated Practising Teacher Criteria with the Standards for the Teaching Profession – and to move to New Google Sites.
One big advantage to this system is the portability of the documentation when staff move schools. Another is how it has also encouraged staff to work consistently throughout the year on curation of evidence rather than scramble at the end of the year to find something done earlier and lost in the day-to-day craziness of a large secondary school. Documents, photos, links and reflections can be easily dropped in to the site – literally as they are generated in the teacher’s Google Drive.
In 2016 I completed my Mindlab Postgrad Digital and Collaborative Leadership Certificate and one of the research components – a Lit Review – led me to re-evaluate how I worked with Provisionally Registered Teachers as a Specialist Classroom Teacher. I realised that there was a need to modify the workload of the PCTs.
Previously, PCTs had worked on both an appraisal document AND a PCT portfolio. This was overly onerous and required considerable duplication of material. The solution was to develop a combined portfolio that covered not just their PCT requirements but also touched base with the wider school staff appraisal needs. I also moved it to the NEW Sites on Google. Google’s New Sites do not support templates and so teachers now have to BUILD their own sites. This encourages creativity, collaboration and individuality amongst the staff and at the same time has led many of them to go on and develop sites to use with students in their classrooms – win-win!
I provide an exemplar of a combined appraisal/portfolio and give the PCTs some instruction in how to use Google Sites. This is supported by our e-learning leader who has created a dedicated PD website. They then add me as an editor to their site so that I can sign off goals, encourage curation and reflection, and keep an eye on how they are progressing. The teacher can also add other collaborators to their Site if they wish. The appraisal/portfolio is then used to inform their appraiser in regular meetings scheduled by the senior leader, but the teacher retains ownership of the site. Publishing their site is at their own discretion.
Using this as a model we are rolling out full staff appraisal documentation on New Google Sites next year. The training will parallel what we have already done for the PCTs and the same support will be provided by the e-learning leader and the PCTs who have experienced using Sites this year will also be able to lead within their departments – thus developing and extending their own leadership skills.
These days teacher appraisal is so much more than a box-ticking exercise!