NOTE:  For 2011-2012 the goals deadline is November 1.

Last winter we began a conversation in our Academic Committee about revising the long-standing process of faculty evaluation at St. Gregory.   There was strong interest in this revision coming from our teachers and our department chairs, and in April we made a commitment as a Committee to revamp our process.

A subgroup of the Academic Committee met in May, including department chairs, administrators, and myself, and identified some of our key concerns about the then-current process, and goals for the revision.   It was an odd time of year to start the conversation, as school was concluding for the year and summer broke thereafter, but it did work to stimulate valuable mulling for all of us over the course of those several hot months.

Our shared perception about the then-in-place process was that it was too infrequent (only every four years) for feedback, support, growth or accountability, and that it was too bureaucratic, too paper-intensive, too much a matter of jumping through hoops or checking off a checklis of required syllabi, assignments, papers graded, etc.

Our goals then, as they emerged through our discussion, became increasingly clear: a more frequent and timely process that emphasized goal-setting and growth but still ensured accountability for teaching and learning effectiveness and desired outcomes, and which minimized paperwork and other bureaucratic elements while promoting greater connectedness, communication, and transparency.

At the first Academic Committee meeting of the year, we jumped right into the conversation again, and I offered my suggestion that we approach faculty evaluation as an “ongoing” or “continuing conversation” with an annual cycle of fall, winter, spring conversational communications with priority given to goal-setting, growth, conversational and formative feedback, but with opportunity, each year, for accountability, “hard conversations,” and warnings/probations/terminations as necessary.  

This approach received good support in the room, and with the encouragement of the Academic Committee I then took the next step of incorporating the feedback received into a new drafted document, outlining the cyclical annual process.   I brought that back to the evaluation subcommittee, where we zeroed in on details of timing and procedure, identifying important issues and gathering input.   After this conversation,  a teacher-only group further refined and finalized our draft.  Late in September, it was presented to the faculty and is now being implemented.

The annual cycle of the process is spelled out above.  Note that it is organized around 3 times annually that administrators and teachers communicate with each other, in person and/or writing,  for and about reflection, goals, progress, and evaluation.    We want to use this process not especially for a formal paper record in a file, but to bring us closer together in more frequent and more meaningful conversation about our practice and our success.

Below are our guidelines for faculty goal-setting and self-reflection, which include an emphasis on self-scrutiny, goal setting, a focus on student learning, and an important step forward in our process of identifying and using evidence, both qualitative and quantitative,  of progress toward enhanced student learning as part of goal-setting, reflection, and evaluation.

The process is now underway, and I hope to be able to take a few more opportunities this year to report on its implementation as the year progresses here on the blog.