Principal and School Leaders’ Appraisal
New Zealand Principals are required to be appraised against goals set by themselves after consultation with relevant parties. These goals, generally numbering two, three or four are traditionally taken from their school’s charter and/or its’ strategic plan or goals of the year of the appraisal and sit alongside but may also include the Standards for the Teaching Profession, Professional Standards for Principals, and the Practicing Teacher Criteria (the PTCs). The full and final Principal’s Appraisal Report in written form, is presented to the BOT by the appraiser, normally at the end of a school year for their consideration and formal acceptance. If requested, a short mid-point report is presented to a Board to keep them involved in the process.
Appraisals and evaluations, reviews noting outcomes of practices, and reflections upon a teacher’s work in general are not new processes. Indeed, they have been done for as long as teachers have been doing their job. The challenges lie in selecting a person of appropriate experience and integrity, and the development of an inclusive, co-constructed, supportive and honest programme which the Principal and Board feel comfortable with. Empowering Change, as a business will work with the parties to construct the programme well in advance of a year long appraisal commencing. Strongly inclusive and relational pedagogy will underpin the work and face to face, kanohi ki te kanohi meetings will be a frequent feature of the process throughout the year.
In order to Empower Change, it is my contention that an appraisal process which facilitates the unpacking of all observations and related facts as evidenced by data gathered, requires sensitivity, discretion and tact. Further, whilst the subject matter is of great consequence, it needs to be introduced, handled and worked with, using an awareness of and a commitment to the genuine care and nurture of all participants. Appraisals are a method by which the focus(es) and outcomes of senior staff including the School Professional Leader, the Principal, are examined, reviewed, responded to. An appraisal should also offer a “next steps” or “where to from here” writeup to maintain or fine tune the professional journey already begun
As a facilitator of 35 years and a teacher and educationalist of 45 years experience, I believe that the way to effect attitudinal change, hence professional leadership change also, is to work not just through cognitive empathy but also through affective and indeed compassionate empathy. It is my strongly held belief that genuine and long-lasting change and growth comes when both intellect and knowledge are stimulated by the engagement of the heart. Further I contend that working through a humanistic approach when exploring participants’ attitudes, minimises defensiveness and indeed generates an increased appetite for knowledge and understanding. This in its’ turn empowers attitudinal change.
The appraisal programme(s) offered will be designed in this format, because I am absolutely sure that this type of intervention and professional learning works in a profoundly effective way. When the heart is opened by a genuine human exploration of the facts, changes from the heart will then drive us forward. Facts, when offered within a korowai of compassion and genuine care for others, and when journeys are shared and equally valued, are powerful indeed.
Schools are encouraged to meet and talk with the appraiser to allow and guarantee the co-construction of the programme, content, timelines and outcomes. It is my profound belief that there is no greater catalyst to change than engaging people in authentic experiences and sharing stories and information in a way which allows them to connect their learning to their future actions.