Performance Evaluation Pt 2

Performance Evaluation: Tenure — Ain’t it Awful! Part 2 of a 3 part Newsletter Series

By Mary Jo McGrath, Attorney at Law

In our last newsletter, we exposed the scandal of inflated evaluations that fail to address problem performance. This week, we explain what administrators’ supervisory rights and responsibilities are under the law and why it is vitally important to know that information. Then, we sketch out the process of supervisory continuous feedback that is distinct from evaluation or progressive discipline; a process that builds a positive working environment and culture, while making a profound difference in the quality of teacher and administrator performance.

In many districts, teachers express the opinion that administrators are not qualified to critique their performance. Because of this perceived failure of school administrators to provide effective supervisory instruction, their teachers are looking elsewhere to receive quality input on their performance.

To fill the gap, unions are negotiating a broadened scope of collective bargaining and adding peer evaluation methods into their contracts. If peer evaluation is permitted for veteran teachers, this will actually provide unions with supervisory instruction of teachers and dilute the influence of the administrator.

Scope of Supervisory Authority
Circle of Authority DiagramCurrently, administrators have a broad power base from which to make a difference in the performance of their employees. The narrow scope of the union’s influence on supervision and the quality of performance is shown in the “Circle of Authority” on the right. This narrow scope is limited to wages, benefits, hours, and representation in disciplinary processes. Regarding performance, only the procedure for employee evaluation falls within the union’s purview.

The union has no authority to say anything about supervision, unless you give it to them by broadening the scope of bargaining. Again, their areas are discipline and the procedure around evaluation. Supervision is yours – all yours. But the problem is that most administrators think that feedback within the supervisory process is the same as discipline. It absolutely is not. You need to develop the will and skill to make use of your power base and optimize your work with employees through the supervisory process

Implement Continuous Feedback
Begin by learning to give meaningful, supervisory feedback to all your employees on a continuous basis through opening a constructive, non-threatening dialog with each of them. Such communication takes the form of a well-thought-out conversation that is structured in a way that builds trust, respect and mutual understanding, and that leads to the growth of both parties. The conversation needs to clearly communicate the facts of the situation being discussed, what the positive or negative impact of the situation is, and most importantly, the context in which the situation exists. The discussion will end with some type of action for growth, which could be as simple as asking for an update on the situation by a specific date.

Learning how to structure these conversations for growth is at the heart of the McGrath SUCCEED with Communication, Supervision, Evaluation and Leadership training. The SUCCEED continuous feedback model takes the fear and trepidation out of the supervisory process, goal setting, and performance review discussion. It is a non-confrontational, non-hostile method of sharing information that produces employee accountability through agreed upon actions.

It is far too easy to blame the lack of effective communication between teachers and administrators on the union. Such finger pointing at the protections of tenure as the “reason” that evaluations aren’t honest and that constructive communication is often absent is a cop out. The right and the RESPONSIBILITY to effectively communicate and develop teachers reside with the school administrators. They need to use this supervisory power soon or lose it to an increased scope of collective bargaining that will render the school administrator irrelevant to the quality of teacher performance and student achievement.

In Part 3 of this series, we’ll explain how supervisory records of growth and enhancement vary from documentation necessary for discipline and/or dismissal.

Effective Evaluations – An Oxymoron? The Mischief is in the Myth

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