Leadership – Deaning – Part Two – Reflection

In a previous post I discussed a shift to becoming a more successful leader of the Year Level team in providing more incentive to perform more successfully in the guidance role. I proposed three significant next steps, and now come the end of the year, it’s appropriate to look at what shift has occurred.

  1. Motion for the Form Teacher role to be an appraised role.
  2. Adapt the business model of performance targets.
  3. Integrate reporting back into fortnightly meeting to highlight best practice and inspire collaboration.

The motion of appraising Form Teachers was not only embraced, it actually proceeded and happened. Overall, it was a huge success, but aspects to the process highlighted the need for careful planning when introducing a new procedure.

After research, the PPTA performance standards were selected as the most useful platform to create criteria around. The chart looked like this:

Professional Standard For our school this could mean ……(Performance Indicators)
Student Management
Develops and maintains an environment that enhances learning by recognizing and catering for the learning needs of a diversity of students. ·         Knowledge of learning and/or guidance profiles.·         Subject choice.

·         Goal setting.

·         Progress Conference.

·         Celebrate success in Form Time.

Manages student behavior effectively. ·         Constructive relationships with students.·         Responsive to individual student needs.

·         Investigates situations and refers to Dean or other staff where appropriate.

Has compassion when dealing with individual students’ discipline.

·         Notification and messaging on KAMAR.

Monitors use of homework diaries.

Motivation of Students
Encourages a positive engagement in learning. ·         Set and establish expectations which promote learning.·         Use data eg attendance/Asttle.

·         Notification and messaging on KAMAR.

Fosters and practices a culture of learning and achievement. Listens to student voice and supports student initiatives.
Effective Communication
Communicates effectively with students. Convenes interviews as appropriate.Approachable and supportive of students.
Reports on student achievement to students, families, whanau and caregivers. Convenes meetings as appropriate.Makes input to meetings as appropriate.

Communicates in a timely fashion.

Inter-staff communication. Good working relationship with Dean and Classroom Teachers.Contributes at Year Level Meetings.

It was pitched to the Form Teacher group at a meeting, proposing that it was a 15 minute conversation to discuss their role as a Form Teacher in 2014, reflect on the year, consider feedback from students and look to 2015. The only thing they were asked to do was potentially prepare for two RTC reflective questions (1,2) designed to bring their voice into the meeting, and integrate the meeting into the appraisal structure used elsewhere in the school. In future, these questions will be dropped. They made it feel like an interview, and it was uncomfortable because that information wasn’t used in any way, it was just an awkward two minutes.

The reaction to the process was mixed, but interesting points were made about the system:

  • At the end of the conversation every Form Teacher acknowledged that it was worthwhile.
  • One teacher reflected it was actually worthwhile because it was positive. Ultimately 90% of the feedback was positive, 7% was reflective questions for further thought, 3% addressed concerns. I was a bit annoyed with this comment though, because part of the effect of creating the system was it opened the door to providing opportunities to address negatives or performance issues. The comment was refractive, rather than reflective. If I was in their seat (as I was a week later with my own Dean’s Appraisal) I would be looking for – not necessarily negatives – but certainly next steps.
  • The word appraisal caused an enormous stir in the staffroom. There was significant negativity around the idea. It was generally found to be overstepping the mark of what the appraisal process was and not appropriate. In response, it was certainly wrong to use the word appraisal – that has confrontational connotations and an evaluative stigma. In retrospect a better title would have been “Form Teacher Debrief”.
  • A lot of people suggested it was at the wrong time and it wasn’t appropriate timing. I reject this entirely. The end of the year is the perfect time to have these conversations. It took me about 6 hours to prepare for them, but that is time well spent. The Form Teacher only has to appear for the 15 minute meeting.
  • The student voice I gathered was spectacular. Another reminder of how insightful and on to it students are when you provide them with the right opportunities and forums to contribute reflectively.

At the end of the day a recommendation will go through to the other Dean’s to run the same system. Hopefully this pushes us closer to the point where we will embrace Form Teacher time as contact hours. This is the ultimate goal of the agenda I’m pushing.

Follow up reading: George Couros – The Principles of Change: One Step at a Time.

My suggestion for people wanting to change what they do?  Focus on one thing at a time.  Look at something you currently do, and ask how you could do that better, and improve learning opportunities for kids.  Once you have seen success, move onto another thing.

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