Change the Way Your School Feels About Appraisals

A guest blog by Oliviero Iurcovich, Product Lead at Hable.

How to develop a more structured approach to staff development, build your own teaching competencies and help your school’s management team make informed development decisions using data.

At Hable, we help schools change how their staff members feel about technology, supporting staff and teachers in adopting Office 365 in the classroom. This gives us the opportunity to work with some of the most innovative schools in the world.
JESS Dubai is one of them and their previous Head, Mark Steed was facing some common issues when it came to appraisals.

They had an outdated and ineffective appraisal system – usually centred around an ambiguous, “Have you had a good year?” conversation and done as a tick-box exercise. The system was not useful in identifying Training Needs – the appraisal, being paper-based and ambiguous is put in a cupboard and forgotten. It didn’t help the school managing Ben – every school has a Ben, who doesn’t prepare lessons or mark pupils’ work on time, has poor classroom control and uses outdated pedagogy; BUT each year Ben’s classes get grades comparable to those of other colleagues in the Department.

Most importantly however, the appraisal didn’t contribute to school improvement – to achieve excellence, you need to focus on achieving marginal gains finding a way to let your people gain 1% margin for improvement in everything they do.

Partnering with iSAMS, Hable is now helping school across the world change how people feel about appraisals.

Best practices from other industries

Looking at how the pharmaceutical giant Novartis appraises their teams, Mark Steed developed a competency-based appraisal model that focused on the ‘attitudes and behaviours’ of teachers, rather than just looking at outcomes.

When digitising this process to use data as a way of empowering staff to make better decisions, Review365 was born.

We built it to allow each school to develop their own competency framework, so they could use our simple tool to adopt a more structured approach to staff development. This will enable staff members and teachers to make more informed decisions using data.

To show you how you can put people first whilst empowering them with great technology, this blog is going to demonstrate our simple 4-step process to start your journey with Review365.

1. Develop teaching and staff competencies

A structured appraisal model can be divided into a set of competencies for each role, with each competency further split into different areas.

As Mark Steed suggests, appraisals should drive both ‘Outcomes’ and ‘Attitudes and Behaviours’, so it’s important that each statement is related to the mission of the school. In this way you can provide focus for management and make it clear to staff what is expected of them in their current role.

Ask yourself: what are the core competencies that each department, team and role need to have to meet our mission?

Competency areas

Each competency should be divided into areas that determine the direction you want your staff to travel in. Some competencies may have more areas than others and that’s fine.

Ask yourself: how is any role in the organisation expected to perform in any given competency? What is our expected standard?

Levels

Each area will have a clear definition which reflects a member of staff’s level of performance and that they will use to self-appraise. Some schools set six levels for each area, whilst Ofsted divides performance into four levels.

For JESS, they found it beneficial to divide the appraisal into three levels, aiming for most people to be practitioners at everything they do as the school’s expected standard. They then anticipated 5-10% of your staff requiring development in specific areas and 5-10% being champions.

Ultimately each competency and its areas should look something like this:

In the above image, you can see that Enrichment (competency) is made of Curriculum Enrichment, Extra Curriculum Enrichment and Trip; these are the direction for the performance, whilst the statements for each level is the rate of the performance.
Each role in your school, whether it’s teaching or non-teaching, will have a different competency model that may overlap with the others but is still unique to the role.

2. Create awareness and desire for change

Once you’re happy with your competency model, you need to ensure it’s supported by your staff members. For any appraisal to be effective, you need to make sure your staff are involved in the process by creating an awareness of why and how the change is happening.

We encourage your school’s leaders of this change to think of themselves as a marketing agency within their own organisation, coordinating communication campaigns that highlight the benefits of what they’re trying to accomplish. Attractive posters, flyers, and tips on how to create buzz events are some of the resources we provide to create a positive level of awareness surrounding the adoption of Review365 to ensure its success.

3. Enable change through learning

Once you’ve successfully executed step 2, everyone will know what to expect when it comes to actually delivering user training. However, you still want to make sure your staff members feel comfortable adopting a new, effective appraisal process within the daily routine.

With Review365, the appraisal process is as follows:

  • staff members (the Appraisee) self-assess against the given set of competencies;
    the Appraiser (manager) rates the Appraisee against that same set of competencies;
  • the Appraisal or review meeting is used for moderation;
  • everything is tracked online so organisations use appraisal data to identify training needs & manage performance.

Spend time allowing your staff to familiarise themselves with this change and train them on using a brand-new appraisal app. We’d recommend initially holding an all staff meeting to go through the process, as well as creating internal sites staff members can visit to refresh their minds.

Because we know everyone learns in different ways, we provide our customers with a wide range of resources to adapt to their learning needs, including: videos, guides, workshops and more.

We also encourage you to be aware that, when it comes to the appraiser, the principles we highlight above also need to be shared and understood by those who lead the appraisals: train the appraiser as well as you train the appraisee.

4. Use data to make more informed decisions

Effective appraisal systems allow you to use appraisal data to identify training needs and create evidence to reward members of staff.

In Review365, we’ve created an intuitive dashboard that allows your School Leaders to have a holistic picture of your organisational, departmental, team or individual competencies, whilst reviewing the targets and shares that have been selected by individuals. This will allow you and your leaders to distinguish between individual or school-wide training needs.

What now?

School improvement is an ongoing and complex process, which is why we help schools understand the fit of the competency grids they build and the impact that Review365 is having on their staff development. More than this, our Research Team helps schools feed back into this process to ensure continuous improvement.
If you’re interested in changing the way your staff members feel about appraisals get in touch with Hable to start your transition to Review365.