In education, be it public or private, we're fantastic at creating mission statements, producing long and short range strategic plans and not to mention annual action plans. Within these there are a multitude of objectives, goals, strategies, actions and targets. And of course in Victoria Australia there are also the standards for professional practice for full registration which has 8 standards and 32 characteristics of effective teaching listed under these.
As a leader, how on earth do you ensure it all happens in your school? How do you ensure your staff are even aware of the objectives in your SP let alone working towards them?
Teachers are flat out teaching, planning, assessing, collaborating and doing the admin stuff that comes with all of that. So how can school leaders expect staff to find the time to concern themselves with the school's strategic plan?
Well, if teachers are focused on their core purpose, student learning, and your strategic plan is written for your school's core purpose, student leaning, then to my mind it should be an easy thing to achieve.
In an environment of so may objectives and goals, staff can't be blamed for feeling it's all too hard. So keep it simple and don't demand so much. Ask your staff to pick just three objectives for their work practice in the year ahead from the SP. Just three - that's it!
For each objective ask them to do as they would for any teaching and assessment plan. State the objective, plan their strategy and nominate their evaluative measures and targets for success. So in other words, what will you do, how will you do it and how will you know if you've been successful?
The evaluative measures are the crucial component and need to be derived from feedback. Now here comes the radical part for school leaders. Where that feedback comes from and the targets for success should be left up to the staff member! Resist the urge to set the target for them! This is in my view how you get buy-in and ownership for performance that is SP aligned to boot. Then our job as leaders is to support our staff to meet the targets they set for themselves rather than targets imposed on them by management. Trust your staff, believe me they will do the right thing.
Think about the difference between informing one of your teachers that you will observe their lesson to provide them with feedback as opposed to the teacher inviting you into one of their classes in order to receive your feedback. Which one do you think will have more impact on improvement in that teacher's practice and their student's learning?
So the next part is reflective practice. Because your staff have thought about targets for student learning, as they collect their feedback throughout the year your leaders can have ongoing conversations both formal and informal with the members of their team around the objectives they have set. This means you're not waiting for that point at the end of the year when you have an ARM to provide staff with feedback around their performance. Assuming of course your ARMs are truly for that purpose!
It's all about learning for staff and learning we know is an ongoing process. So the performance conversations need to happen in an ongoing manner.
And hey, I'm a learner too! Would love your feedback on this post!