Re-thinking Appraisal – creating the right culture for continuing professional development to flourish

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This newsletter profiles our training course Re-thinking Appraisal and Performance Management- Creating a coaching culture that leads to influential change through positive learning conversations  It looks at the process of appraisal and the undoubted advantages of using coaching as a means of ensuring the vision, the school improvement plan and the road map that defines the way forward from here can be all be realised.

We must not forget the implications for staff development as well as for pupils’ progress and achievement as the academic year rolls on and we begin to look to future plans for learning and development. We are certainly aware here at Learning Cultures that training and CPD has not been high on the agenda for school leaders and line managers during the last year, which is understandable in the circumstances.

There will be an imperative to include continuing professional development for all staff in any strategic planning that takes place over the coming months. There is much talk about what learners have lost but this can be just as telling for those who teach, manage learning or design the curriculum. In all of the professions CPD is a vital component of maintaining standards and high-quality outcomes and education is no exception.

Achieving carefully crafted goals and objectives may not have been possible for all those at the frontline of trying to educate and keep a school safe and running smoothly. Therefore, appraisals may need careful thought as we move towards the new academic year and begin to look at the whole school or college vision and organisation, team and individual improvement plans.

We have a coaching solution to the need to rethink appraisal. We can support all those who need to reflect on how future plans will redress the impact of the last year and refocus how an appraisal process will help to reset the compass in order to steer learning towards positive futures.

The answer is to make sure that all staff are involved in the process and all have a say as to their own goals and aspirations for the future.  It is essential that leaders in education encourage their staff to reflect on what they have learnt over the past year. It has been tough and for many exhausting and overwhelming, but we have all had to adapt and change our ways of working and we have all gained new skills in the process.

Going backwards is unlikely to be the way forward. We cannot capture what has been lost but we can build self-esteem and celebrate the achievements bound up in survival, change and positive action that has been taken to minimise disruption that has been the default for many. This is where coaching comes in.  Making sure line managers create the right culture that ensures appraisals are a two – way process with the individuals they manage is essential. This must acknowledge the individual’s strengths and skills and give them the opportunity to share their own solutions to achieving positive outcomes and measurable impact for all learners and all staff.

Coaching is about setting goals and focusing on how these can be achieved smartly. Creating an appraisal process that focuses on accountability for each individual to be responsible for achieving what they say they want to achieve is far more motivating than when goals and objectives are imposed by others. Each individual needs to know the part he or she plays in achieving the school or college vision. Their focus is then on what positive actions can be taken to achieve success, measure impact and focus on priorities for change and improvement.

Our training course Re-thinking Appraisal and Performance Management- Creating a coaching culture that leads to influential change through positive learning conversations will give those with responsibility for managing appraisal with a wealth of materials, resources and activities to re-think the process. We also contain within the course the opportunity for those attending to learn some coaching skills that will help them to support their teams to define their goals and objectives, know and articulate their strengths and learning agenda, conduct appraisal interviews and create opportunities for ongoing professional learning conversations to take place during the interval between formal appraisals.

This course is an asynchronous package that those with responsibility for planning and conducting appraisal can use to suit their CPD timetable or planning time. It is divided into five sections that are designed to cover a full INSET day. They can be broken down and delivered over time and revisited as often as is needed. The whole course sits on a Moodle platform where all the resources are easily accessed. There is even a multiple choice quiz, bibliography and extra resources at the end of each section.  It also comes in a box with a memory stick that houses all the resources, sets of cards, a user manual and because we can’t offer you lunch, a box of chocolates. We can also run this course for leaders and managers from an organisation either remotely or face to face when allowed.

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