While it may seem too early to think about, the deadline for when most appraisal cycles come to a close will soon creep up on us. Therefore, it’s important to get ahead of the game, and ensure that evidence has been collected throughout the year, to support objectives and whole-school priorities.

Here, Damien Roberts, director and co-founder of Derventio Education, provides his top tips to help teachers prepare for - and ace - that all important end-of-year review…

1. Be prepared, be ready

Preparing for the review is key. Rather than waiting until the end of the academic year to pull together all your evidence to support your aims and objectives, keep on top of your progress as and when it happens. Keep it in one central place as this willmake it a lot simpler to highlight your strengths and areas for improvement in an appraisal. Using technology can really help with this as you’re updating it in real-time, and not searching for documents at the last minute. It’s also a good chance to work out whether there are any CPD programmes that may help enhance your performance over the next year.

Of course, make sure you’ve booked a place for the meeting to take place and allow yourself enough time to talk through everything; you’ll need to discuss an overall review of performance and how it fits in to the whole school priorities.

2. It takes two to tango

The review meeting gives both you and your line manager the chance to provide honest and open feedback. It’s not just about ticking a few boxes and signing off on the process; this is a chance for both of you to look at the progress you’ve made throughout the year and assess the supporting evidence.

Make sure you’re both on the same page and understand exactly what is expected during the meeting,and ensure all answers and discussions are transparent. Consider using open-ended questions to also encourage responses and feedback.

3. It’s time to be constructive, not critical

Don’t be disheartened if you receive feedback on ways you can develop. Despite many schools and staff already demonstrating effective teaching and learning, there is always room for improvement.Enjoy the positives, but do take on board the areas that could be worked on.

The person conducting the review should take a constructive approach; the ‘praise, improvement, praise’ feedback sandwich might be an old one, but it’s a classic. When delivered in the right way, criticism is encouraging and not destructive.

Equally, if there is something that hasn’t quite worked for you as a teacher, now is the time to give feedback and offer suggestions for how this could be improved for the next academic year.

4. Motivating and rewarding

The end-of-year review is a good opportunity to encourage and reward efforts; and this doesn’t even have to be financial. Sometimes a simple “thank you” can be incredibly effective. Senior leaders and teaching staff alike should never underestimate the power of recognition and praise. Demonstrating thanks for the work that has been done, and the impact it has had on both the students and staff can be extremely valuable.

5. Keep the conversation going

Although face-to-face meetings are essential – especially when it comes to the end-of-year review – it’s vital to ensure that conversations between staff members and senior leaders continue throughout the year. This is where online systems can play an effective role, creating a bridge for the times when face-to-face meetings aren’t able to take place, but factors can still be discussed and assessed. Notifications can then also be incorporated to remind each member of staff to provide new evidence or information against their objectives when necessary.

Ultimately, the answer to a successful review is to plan and prepare; and if you’ve done this ahead of time then it makes things a lot easier. Embrace your appraisal as an open, two-way conversation, whereby progress, evidence, goals and aspirations are discussed.Only then can both senior leaders and teachers rest-assured that they are working together, heading towards the end goal of professional and personal success.

For more information on professional development, school improvement and self-evaluation, click here.

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