One of my favourite tasks as an administrator is crafting Teacher Performance Appraisals for staff members. It creates the conditions for intentional conversations about their practice, their students, and their future plans. I love those conversations where staff are not only open to feedback, but actively seek it which in turn leads to more informal visits as staff explore and experiment with new strategies. They are always so excited when a new strategy works!
These feedback or more appropriately, feed forward discussions have focused on a variety of topics ~ differentiation, formative assessment, how to effectively include evidence informed guided instruction, mental wellbeing, and leadership opportunities, to list but a few.
Thinking about my time as an administrator and how the format of the Ministry Appraisal has evolved and changed to reflect new initiatives and more advanced methods of supporting educators, led me down memory lane….
Last week, as I was on a bit of a scavenger hunt to find my marriage certificate (which I needed to upload for my impending pension) after looking in what I had anticipated would be a logical location, I landed upon a file which I had started in 1985 ~ the year that I graduated Teachers’ College and started teaching. The file held both my probationary and permanent contracts. The faded green paper was officially embossed with the School Board seal and the dotted line blanks for name, date and location had been populated with a typewriter. As I flipped through the file, I landed on my very first performance appraisals from my first practicums as a Teacher Candidate. Most of them were handwritten (in beautiful penmanship or eloquent primary printing). The domains included: Academic Background, Objectives, Presentation, Questioning Ability and Personal Qualities. The reports also included Basic Strengths and Constructive suggestions for Improvement. As I read through the comments, the core/heart pieces of what it means to be a good educator and meet the needs of all students were just as important and included in appraisals 35 years ago as they are today. The phrases may have evolved ~ differentiation which now rolls off our tongue easily is the same as “objectives were tailored to the individual abilities of the students”.
I had to giggle when I reviewed the Constructive Suggestions for Improvement where I was encouraged to, “work on the size of letter formations in printing and writing (neatness is fine)” and couldn’t help but wonder how in some ways times have indeed changed. In my 19 years as an administrator, I’ve never once commented on someone’s penmanship. On that same note of comments that made me smile, “a variety of presentation aids were used ~ overhead, filmstrip, tape and VCR” revealed my love of technology from the start of my career.
I wonder if in 30 years from now, any of my current staff will stumble upon the performance appraisals that I wrote for them and find components to giggle about!
And…. by the way ~ it was in that very folder that I finally found my marriage certificate. Which makes sense considering I was married two weeks prior to starting Teachers’ College.
What do you have from the start of your teaching career that has significantly evolved over the years?
Come write with me….