Redefining appraisal : giving teachers ownership of their practice : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctorate in Education at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
Appraisal has, for many years, been seen as something ‘done to’ teachers. It has simply been that bit extra that needed to be completed each year to ensure teachers could teach one more year. It was seen as having little benefit or significance, simply being a ‘tick box’ exercise. This study aimed to change this view and give teachers ownership of the appraisal process through self-directed professional development within a collaborative and collegial environment. In doing so teachers could then claim their practice as their own.
This study explores the issues with the appraisal system, the perceptions of teachers and possible solutions using action research methodology to plan, create and evaluate potential changes to the appraisal process. Throughout this process, staff at a secondary school participated in developing a shared understanding of the performance management criteria, provided feedback on the changes developed, and began the journey toward greater reflection on their practice.
The main aim of this study was to create a structured portfolio that could be individualised by teachers, allowing them to take control of the process by developing their own professional development plan based on their areas of need and interest. The building in of discussion and reflection time where possible helped to reinforce improvements in practice with the aim of meeting the Ministry of Education’s focus of creating ‘quality teachers’. Integration of the New Zealand Teachers Council’s recently developed Registered Teacher Criteria created a backbone upon which the changes could be structured.
This study has demonstrated that teachers can take ownership of their appraisal processes. In doing so, teachers can improve their practice and engage in life-long learning. The structured portfolio not only allows this process to occur but also enables the integration of formative and summative assessment within one system, thus lessening the amount of work necessary to meet both attestation and registration requirements. Central to this ‘new’ system is the need for it to be driven by the professional development needs of the teachers – this is the key component that enables teachers to drive the process rather than being the passive passengers of previous systems.