Teacher appraisal is dead…

Teacher appraisal is dead. We killed it.

THE GOAL: Teacher-learners, who…

  • constantly reflect on and strive to improve their practice
  • are open to ideas and challenges
  • respond to meaningful feedback
  • plan for learning with our learning principles in mind
  • engage in professional dialogue and reflect collaboratively
  • actively seek to learn, grow and change…

THE PROBLEM: None of this was achieved by appraising teachers in the traditional manner we used in the past. A fleeting visit from the head, capturing a moment in time in the classroom, ticking some boxes in terms of ‘performance’… What purpose could that possibly serve? How could we address our school goal of ‘using data to inform teaching and improve learning’ and harness the success of our new coaching initiative to make a real difference to teacher development?

THE PROCESS: Our Teaching and Learning team unpacked our Learning Principles collaboratively. How would they actually look in a learning context? How would teaching and learning reflect our beliefs about how learning best take place? We created a ‘more like /less like’ chart for each of our learning principles, as seen in the draft example below (always a work in progress!) Screen Shot 2015-05-09 at 4.00.32 pm The decision was made to replace appraisal with a growth model which would achieve the desired goals. Trialling the model with volunteer teachers brought us valuable feedback. Collaboration with our global network garnered further ideas for adaptation…


Step 1 – Teacher looks at the ‘more like/less’ like charts of our learning principles, reflects on his/her own teaching and self assesses how he/she is applying the learning principles.

Meeting 1 – Teacher and reviewer collaboratively explore and discuss the learning principles and select what the teacher will focus on.

Observation 1 – Reviewer observes for evidence of the selected area of focus, using the ‘more like/ less like’ charts as a guide to facilitate observations and records the data. Evidence might include conversations with students.

Meeting 2 – Teacher and reviewer discuss the data. Teacher reflects on the teaching and learning and the reviewer asks key (coaching style) questions to support the teacher in thinking about possible improvements.

Observation – Reviewer watches for evidence of the selected learning principles, and records the data. Focus on looking for improvements, new things being tried, application of points from the discussion.

Meeting 3 – Teacher reflects on the process with the reviewer, and goals are set for moving forward.


  • Further observations and meetings if required.
  • Coaching.
  • Peer coaching.
  • Discussion about personal learning focus.
  • Suggested readings.
  • Team teaching.
  • Teachers sharing expertise.
  • Follow up, once a term to review progress in relation to goals.

Feedback and comments invited, as always!

9 thoughts on “Teacher appraisal is dead…

  1. When I started teaching, Her Majesty’s Inspector would arrive unannounced, sit in the corner of the room and write copious notes in a little black book. It was ALWAYS stressful! After 38 years of teaching, I still get eczema on the palms of my hands when I know that my “appraiser” is coming in to “observe”….. even though I would happily have that appraiser visit my class at any other time. Anything that takes this kind of stress out of what should be a process of helping teachers improve their practice is MOST welcome!!


  2. Hey Ed! I love how this is a collaboratively created process and moves a bit more away from the contrived evaluations that are often the norm. I may steal this and share it with staff for us to build upon.

    One area that I have been reflecting upon is the shift to much more active, noisier, messier, and collaborative classrooms. This is such an important move and one we need to embrace. However, we also cannot forget about the importance of quiet time for individual reflections with our students. With the constant focus of being connected to others, I think we are forgetting about the power of taking this learning from others and individually reflecting to digest and add out own thoughts. We also have students that flourish in quieter environments and crave this time to be more still.

    SO I guess what I would add to the document is something about being purposeful around our groupings and noise levels and being mindful of the importance in being still once in awhile… moving deeper in quiet reflection. This is not “be quiet and do those 50 questions” but more about quietly jotting down or writing our reflections. In our current world, we as adults seem to be missing this for ourselves and with our students more often.

    I am interested in your thoughts.


  3. Edna, this was a great read. I’m interested in knowing how you evaluate how this is working? Is it just through observation or can you see change in student outcomes as a result? What evaluative methods do you use?

    Many thanks,



  4. Hi Edna, As I so often do when our school is undergoing an important change, I turn to your blog for inspiration. I would like to use the goals you stated above as a resource when we begin developing our own guiding principles behind our ‘appraisal’ system (citing the source of course). I am also going to suggest we begin using the term ‘growth cycle’ rather than appraisals – a huge mindshift with a single word. Thanks again for sharing and I hope you don’t mind being one of my key resources yet again 🙂 Once our growth cycle is reviewed, I’ll happily share it if you are interested in what we end up with.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s