Why is it that Performance Review for those of us who work in schools is so often annual? It’s an interesting quirk of our profession that we differentiate the learning program every day for our students to cater for their individual needs and interests. But for ourselves, we allocate 30 minutes every 12 months to our own learning plans.
There are some inherent dangers and assumptions in this. Firstly, we assume that all goals that we set for ourselves take 12 months to complete. This is dangerous if only for the fact that it discourages us from taking on smaller, more pressing or more relevant goals. This leads us into some silly goal setting scenarios whereby:
For the leader and the teacher – we just created the perfect win-win!
The latter type of conversation, occurring whenever it’s required, is a far more meaningful way to promote learning among our staff as well as our students. These conversations are also less stressful and more honest, especially when framed or begun with a chat about our strengths and weaknesses. This way we get to the core of what’s really going on with a teacher and what’s really going to make a difference in the quality of their practice.
A colleague of mine, presented to me that there are three types of goals that teachers can set that connect to better practice. I really like these:
1) Professional goals – those that are about being a better teacher wherever we are in the world of education. Perhaps a goal that increases our ICT skills or to learn more about the charter schools movement in the USA would be a good place to start. These are great goals for prospective leaders.
2) Operational goals – those that relate directly to work in our school. Is there a whole school approach or philosophy that the teacher is grappling with that can be chunked to maximise that feeling of achievement?
3) Personal goals – those which allow us to be at our best, day in day out, in front of our students. Examples of these would include physical fitness, tackling a difficult conversation, public speaking training or simply organizing the Secret Santa in those testing December weeks. (Beware the meaningless Personal Goal – like enrolling in a macramé course that means I skip Staff Meeting every second week!)
Above all, performance chats should be tools of validation for the great work that people do in our schools. There shouldn’t be surprises and the challenges that might be discussed should be well and truly on the radar before we sit down for a cuppa.