Dr Angela Sharples, Deputy Principal, Rotorua Lakes High School
The introduction of Appraisal Connector at Rotorua Lakes High School has ensured that appraisal is no longer a tick box completed at the end of the year but is an integral part of our development of a dialogue driven, reflective school. The process provides rich data which teachers can use as the basis of reflective dialogue with their appraiser and trusted colleague. At Rotorua Lakes High School we initially let teachers chose the person with whom they would like to engage in dialogue about their teaching practice and only after this introductory appraisal round did we add a formal appraiser based on the school’s existing Departmental structure. What became evident early on was that teachers were more willing to engage in this appraisal process than they had been with the previous paper-based system. Teachers recognise that reflecting on their teaching practice is an important part of effective teaching and Appraisal Connector provides a structure to support them to engage in this reflection and dialogue. It was very quickly obvious that discussion between teachers about teaching practice was occurring more regularly at Departmental meetings, and indeed in the staffroom. This is an extremely positive aspect of using Appraisal Connector for appraisal. The reports generated from Appraisal Connector not only provide rich data about teaching practice for reflective dialogue between appraisee and appraiser, but allow teachers to identify areas where they would like support. We have been able to use this data from the appraisal process to identify areas for professional development, areas the staff themselves identify as important. The appraisal process now links with our co-construction groups which are focused on raising student achievement across the school. Our processes for raising student achievement and supporting teachers to improve their teaching practice are now based on the same philosophy of a cycle of data collection and analysis, reflection, dialogue, positive change, and review. This is a powerful way to support positive change. At Rotorua Lakes High School we see effective appraisal processes as central to developing a dialogue driven school focused on achievement.
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