Principals: Advice for Leading Successful End-of-Year Teacher Reflection Conversations

I know many of my administrative colleagues are preparing for their end of the year meetings with teachers.  This year, I will be facilitating around 40 end-of-year teacher evaluation conversations.  I see those meetings as a great opportunity to look back, reflect, and also plan forward.  I truly look forward to sitting down with staff to discuss, laugh, and celebrate their 2017-2018 school year.

images-1.jpgBelow, is the format I use for those conversations.  Feel free to use any parts that might be helpful to you.  My goal is to start big picture, shut my mouth, and truly listen.  Allow teachers the time to frame the school year through their eyes, not yours. 

From there, I really try to accomplish three things.  First, I want to join them in celebrating.  There are amazing accomplishments in each classroom and within each teacher.  I never want to miss a chance to thank them for all they do for our students and school.  This is a great time for me to recognize and applaud that.  Second, I want to start planning forward with them collaboratively.  I want just a little part of their brain to be thinking about goals, new ideas, or different paths for next year.  Finally, I want to us both to push, press, extend, or challenge each other’s thinking.  As we collaborate and brainstorm, we both grow and new ideas are pushed to the forefront.  As we grow together, we build trust and ownership towards a common vision.  If we’ve accomplished those three things at the end of a conversation, I feel like our time has been productive and supported their learning.     

Here is the outline I use as I facilitate those conversations.

5D+ End of the Year Year Evaluation Meeting

* Use “EOY Post Inquiry Conference Planning” page as a guide during the conversation

* Share outline  for the meeting

  • Analyze student data
  • Examine teacher’s focus areas and their impact on student learning this year
  • Review and update the growth plan.  Discuss growth in the 5D+ rubric within the focus areas and initial scoring thoughts
  • Discuss potential focus areas/PLC options for next year
  1. Big Picture – Celebrations and challenges over the course of the year
  2. Student Data
  • Noticings, trends, patterns, in classroom and grade level data
  • Present any data relevant to your student achievement goals for the year
  • How were these impacted by your focus areas?  What other factors significantly impacted student achievement in your classroom
  1. Reflection on Areas of Focus
  • What changes have you made in these focus areas from past years?  
  • Which of those has been the most positive or impactful for you and students?  
  • What is still a work in progress?  Sustainability — How do you carry over work in this focus areas into next year?
  • How has the work you have put into your focus areas impacted students?

          – What evidence do you have to support that?

          – What student data sets can you point to?

  1. Admin shares thinking/Scoring on focus areas — notice, wonder, next steps
  2. That is a summary of your learning for this year.  Is there anything else you’d like to add?

         – Discuss “PCC” dimension/staff can bring examples of work in that dimension 

         – Discuss indicators where the administrator has collected the least evidence 

         – Review self-assessment from the fall and discuss then vs. now (JU)

* Do you think the focus areas should remain the same?  Why or why not?

* What other areas may interest you? What inspires, energizes you or intrigues you in the field of education?  Possible PLC areas?

* Hand-out the summary scoring page in a separate, 1 minute, meeting

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Educators: You Can’t Possibly Do it All

Sometimes as I sit down to write certain posts I wonder if what I’m about to write really impacts others or if it’s just me. Writing this was one of those instances. Let me share a couple examples to see if you can connect with this thought process at all.

* You are a teacher and a friend who teaches in a different district tells you about an amazing thing they are doing in their classroom that you hadn’t considered

* You are a coach who reads on social media how another coach is building program consistency with a certain practice structure for teams of all levels

* As a principal, you are at a conference and the presenter shares with you a method for building staff culture. You consider yourself competent in that area but there idea is above and beyond something you’ve ever considereddownload.jpg

What’s Wrong with That?

So, what’s the problem? You are hearing new ideas that impact and expand your thinking. Twitter or Facebook gives more options to consider for your classroom or school. Educators are often friends with educators in other districts and that allows for a great exchange of thinking. Educators attend workshops or conferences to hear experts in various areas. Those should all be good things, right? Shouldn’t that allow us to grow in our work? Yes, but. Yes, but I think there can also be a downside. I’ve certainly have felt it before and want to share that in this post. 

 

Seeing, listening, and talking about different ideas has turned into a challenge for me as a varsity basketball coach, teacher, principal, and even a parent. Social media has made it even more difficult. As your professional network grows, the possibility to hear all the amazing things happening in other schools grows as well.

Here’s the Challenge

The challenge is that you can’t do it all. You especially can’t do it all at the same time. When I hear something another educator is doing that is really good, it brings out a couple different feelings and I’ll share those honestly. Part of me feels insufficient and that I’m not good enough at my job for the parents, students, and teachers of our school. Part of me wonders what I hadn’t thought of it. I do think how awesome it is that others are positively being impacted. I wonder if and how the idea might fit into what we are currently doing. I’ve also made the mistake or hearing an idea somewhere and going back to immediately implemented it. That has often failed. As your network grows and the scope of social media grows, there are more and more opportunities for this to happen to educators.   

My Advice

1. Be confident in what you are doing. I don’t think this has to do with insecurity but instead knowing what you believe in and how it impacts your current practice. What you’ve developed has been well-planned, thoughtful, and successful for a reason. Know that the base, the foundation, is strong. Understand that we all have our strengths and growth areas as educators. The person who shared the program you haven’t implemented is likely not doing something you are doing well. The confidence in ourselves allows us to accurately self-assess and know we have those clear strengths. 

2. Be reflective and willing to grow. Always be on the look-out for something that can improve the educational expereince for parents, students, and staff. Never think you know it all or can’t possibly improve more. Being open to new ideas doesn’t mean criticizing yourself for not implementing it already nor does it mean you have to develop each one you hear into a new initiative.

3. Implement changes carefully. Go slow. Collaborate with others. Consider how many new initiatives you currently are introducing. Think about how a new idea might or might not fit with the current focuses in your school or classroom. Keep a list of potential ideas or journal and put them into a short, medium, or long-term timeline for implementation.

This is coming from the guy who loves the term #ChaseIt and is obsessed with the journey and process of trying to be great at anything. Don’t beat yourself up for not doing it all. Remember the power of growth mindset and the strength of “not yet.” However, trying to do everything at once or feeling insufficient for not having it all going right now gets your further away from greatness, not closer to it.

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