Increasingly performance management can feel a bit of a box ticking exercise. However, there’s a great amount to be gained from good performance management; it can provide an opportunity to share ideas for overcoming barriers, explore new opportunities for expanding our skills and can also be a great time to pause and celebrate a job well done.
We’ve put together a few ideas to help you get the most out of the process. These ideas are written primarily for those staff who are preparing for their own performance management – if you’re a line manager, you might like to share these ideas with your team to help you all get the most out of the process. You may also be interested in our performance management course.
Enter with a positive mind-set
If we approach performance management assuming that it’s another chore on our too full to do list, and that the process is there to examine what we’ve done wrong, then that’s what it becomes. The process becomes far more positive when we accept that yes, it will increase our workload temporarily, but that it’s a great opportunity to reflect on what’s gone well, what could be going better and what support we can draw on. Think positive, embrace the process and you’ll find you get a lot more out of it.
Don’t let the process take over
Depending on your school’s precise approach, there can be a lot of form filling which can be time consuming. Don’t let crossing ‘T’s and dotting ‘I’s take up so much time that you don’t have an opportunity to sit and really reflect. The most important preparation you can do for your performance management is to take the time to think about the past months and what you can learn from what‘s happened.
Take a moment to reflect
Forget the forms for a moment. Leave the lesson planning to one side and just stop. Stop, and think about your growth as a teacher. We’re so busy day to day that we rarely take a moment to reflect on how things are going. It’s helpful to think about:
• What’s gone well? What are the highlights – think about the impact you’ve had both on whole classes and individuals. How can you evidence this impact and how did you make it happen?
• What barriers have you overcome? When have you had to think outside the box to overcome a difficulty? How did you manage it, what support did you draw on and what was the outcome?
• What are you struggling with? Are there any aspects of your practice that you feel could be improved? What makes you feel you’re doing less well in these areas? What would success look like? What ideas do you have about how to improve – a course, observing others or process changes as examples?
Think about your successes
We can be all too quick to think about what’s gone wrong and where our failings are, but your successes will be many since your last performance management. Think about yourself as a practitioner, what do you find easier now than you did in the past? Which students do you feel you’ve had a specific impact on and which classes have exceeded your expectations?
Honestly reflect on barriers
It’s okay not to find everything easy. Barriers come in all shapes and forms and thinking about them honestly is the only way to overcome them. What has stopped you teaching to the best of your ability recently? How might you be able to address this and what support would be helpful?
Consider the skills and knowledge you’d like to build on
As well as thinking about how you might overcome barriers, thinking about how you might build on your existing skills and knowledge is also a valuable part of the performance management process.
What interests, excites and inspires you? Perhaps you’ll come up with some ideas for development here. You may also be interested to learn how to support students with specific needs, perhaps those with learning difficulties, whose first language isn’t English or who need stretching because they’re more able. Think creatively about the areas of your practice you’d most enjoy developing, but also remember that you’ll need to make a business case as to why this development will be beneficial to you, your students and the school if time and / or money are to be spent.
Identify sources of CPD
Once you know what skills, knowledge or experiences you’d like to develop, be proactive in considering potential sources of CPD.
Think broadly about this; CPD isn’t confined to facilitator led training days (though we would recommend you take a look at our courses, of course!). You can also learn a huge amount by observing colleagues teach, being mentored by a more experienced colleague, visiting other schools, taking part in networking events (online or offline) or participating in webinars or conferences (online or offline). Identify some possible sources of CPD that you can discuss with your line manager, think carefully about the objectives you’d hope to achieve with each.
Think too about whether and how you can justify the cost in terms of time and money. Don’t get too hung up on particular methods of CPD though, enter the performance management process with an open mind and open to suggestions from your line manager.
Don’t prepare in isolation
You can only get so far by thinking about your performance and possible ways forward alone. It can be very helpful to consult with colleagues too. If they’ve seen you teach, ask for feedback. Think about talking to your students to find out what they find most and least helpful and inspiring about your teaching too.
Talk to colleagues at a similar stage in their career about the things they are finding difficult and their aspirations and talk to more experienced colleagues to find out about issues they think you could usefully consider in your own professional development. Discussing your professional learning journey with a range of people can really help you to gain some clarity and identify opportunities for learning that you might not otherwise have considered.
Clarify anything you’re unsure about
Try not to get intimidated by the performance management process. If there’s anything you don’t understand, or if you find yourself unsure what’s expected of you at any point then ask for clarification. There is nothing to be gained by keeping quiet if you’re unsure about things.
Make sure that it’s a process, not just a meeting
Finally, remember that once your performance management meeting is done, that does not mean that your performance management process is finished. Think carefully about what you’ve learnt and how this might be applied to your teaching practice. Make sure you go on to access the learning opportunities highlighted to you as part of the process and, as you do so, consider how these CPD opportunities are contributing to the learning objectives you set yourself as part of your performance management.
Don’t let performance management be a chore – embrace it as an opportunity!