Shifting the burden for professional learning to teachers

Dovetailing The Teachers’ Criteria with Teacher Self Appraisal


Why Self Appraisal? The vast majority of teachers are their own harshest critics.

Give the vast majority of teachers a task and ask them to appraise their performance and you will discover they are almost always particularly hard on themselves. Leaders intent on developing their schools and centres as Professional Learning Communities can now tap into this much under-utilised lever for personal change and growth. It means that teachers deliver hard messages themselves rather than you. As opposed to being seen as the villain delivering potentially threatening messages you are instead seen as a hero, having facilitated a process allowing teachers themselves to identify where they need to develop. This embodies the notion of empowerment. Ultimately, it’s acceptable for a teacher to come down hard on them self, to beat themselves up a little, but less acceptable for others do it to them. Develop this much under-utilised ‘lever’ for personal professional learning and transform any appraisal process into one which has powerful, meaningful, personalised professional learning for every teacher lying at its core.


By developing your teachers’ capability to self appraise:

  • you don’t have to extrinsically motivate teachers to change – they become intrinsically motivated.
  • you don’t have to deliver hard messages – teachers deliver it to themselves.
  • ticking boxes becomes irrelevant – learning,  reflection & professional renewal becomes pivotal.
  • the quality and depth of informal professional conversations increases across your school.
  • teachers take responsibility for determining and seeking their own Professional Development – not you.
  • teachers feel more valued, more trusted and they feel honoured as professionals and as adults.
  • your appraisal system impacts very quickly on the quality of teaching & learning. It directly impacts on students’ achievement


Links to The Teachers’ Criteria

The new Teacher Criteria represents a shift towards an ‘aspirational’ framework of on-going teacher growth, professional learning and reflection. It’s a growth model aiming to continually improve teaching capacity.

Two types of schools and centres will emerge over the next few years. Some school leaders will see no change. They will believe that the new criteria replaces the standards as boxes to tick or criteria to meet. Appraisal will for teachers in these schools and centres remain a compliancy process delivering nothing of significant value for them. Their leaders will keep them stuck in the Professional Development Community they will have created for their staff based on industrial thinking. The focus for teachers will remain one of ‘passing the test’ in one or two off lesson observations with feedback being provided. Research consistently highlights how this approach has little to no impact on the quality of teaching and learning. It does not shift teacher’s thinking significantly and subsequently it does not impact on what is happening in the classroom significantly. It’s an ‘informational learning’ framework. Nothing for teachers changes around the provision of profound professional learning and there will be little impact on teaching and learning.

Aspirational leaders committed to developing their schools and centres as places where profound professional learning for teachers occurs daily through reflection and partnership learning will see a clear link between the new framework and self appraisal. It’s an approach providing teachers with much hope. If embraced they could be released to feed themselves through regular deep transformational learning opportunities. This is what the new framework is asking us to think about. How do we use this framework as a springboard to facilitate for teachers opportunities to grow professionally and how do we create in our schools and centres a culture where we can develop our own capacity from within. Self appraisal provides answers to both questions. It is no coincidence that the Teachers Council provide 12 reflective questions within the framework. They recognise the traditional evaluative appraisal model is limited as a source of professional learning and are encouraging us to use the professional learning tools from the list we provided earlier to move teachers towards self appraisal.

Over the next 12 months you have a rare opportunity to re-design your appraisal system around the new national framework. If you achieve this you will have a Self Appraisal system which will drive the professional learning in your learning community. You will have an appraisal system aligned for a Professional Learning Community. In fact your appraisal system will drive your teachers towards the development of your school as a Professional Learning Community. Making it happen is easy. Simply provide teachers with opportunities to develop knowledge, skills & ability to self appraise.

If you would like more information on this programme we can send you an information package by clicking the link: