Ten suggestions from Tribal’s Senior Lead Inspector to give you a good foundation for making effective judgments in your school.
- Start with what is already known and build on from there - make sure you read what your predecessor has written (if there was a predecessor in your department or subject) and then read your last inspection report if you can, highlighting any reference to your subject or department. Be sure to note areas for improvement that the inspectors will look at when they come in to see you next time.
- ‘See for yourself.’ It's highly likely that once you've read all the reports and documents, you'll have your own questions and gaps in your own understanding. So, before you start writing your self-evaluation document, go and monitor the quality of teaching and learning.
- It is really worth taking time to read some good examples of self-evaluation documents by other colleagues in your school, including the whole school self-evaluation form completed by your leadership team. This will help you judge the tone and language for your writing.
- There's always overlap between sections of any self-evaluation document. Use your professional judgment to decide where best to make your point. Make your point, cross-reference it to other sections if you need to, and move on. Make a note or highlight where a statement is incomplete, and then find out the answer through further monitoring or background reading at another time.
- Save different versions of your self-evaluation form. Once you've written the document in its entirety, the next time you evaluate, then save it as version two, three, four, and so on. A useful tip is to save the original self-evaluation document, the one you inherit from your predecessor, as version zero. If for no other reason, it is rewarding when you get to hand over the reins to your successor, to see the journey you've travelled in both helping to improve the quality of teaching and learning, but also in your ability to write an effective self-evaluation document.
- Be concise in your evaluative statements. Try to use bullet points as this will alleviate the chances of writing in prose. Make your point, note the impact, and move on. You haven't got to mention everything you know about each point. Remember, that will come up through discussion with your leadership team, the Board of Governors, inspectors, and assessors.
- Write the sentence illustrating the point you want to make; ask the question, “What impact is this having on students' well-being, dispositions, and/or achievement?”; link the two statements together showing ‘cause and effect’; and add some context without making it narrative, or prose.
- If you don't know the point you want to make - maybe you have no previous documents, and you are starting from scratch - just look at the heading or sub-heading that you're meant to be writing under. If it's about lesson planning and the use of resources, just start writing what you know about the quality of lesson planning from your monitoring. Is it linked to clearly defined objectives underpinned by the curriculum? How are groups of learners considered? What consideration is given to resources in lessons? What impact is this having on students’ learning in lessons?
- Remember, the hardest part is starting. Once you get going, you'll find you'll have plenty to say. So don't get hung up about the order of your comments. Just write. You can put them in different sections later on when you come to save different versions of your drafts.
- Avoid basing a statement on just one piece of evidence or one occasion where something was seen. The same applies to highlighting areas for improvement. Don't just base it on a single event. Effective self-evaluation is about triangulating sources of evidence and seeing if you can find the same strengths and areas for improvement from different sources. If you note something of importance but it doesn't show elsewhere in the evidence you've gathered, it doesn't mean it can't be a strength (or a development point), but rather, you just need to do a bit more background evidence gathering before putting pen to paper.
Although self-evaluation is a complex process, it's genuinely fascinating finding out information and triangulating sources of evidence. However, always keep the heart of what effective self-evaluation is about through this process - building on and improving the quality of teaching and learning. Self-evaluation is a continuous cycle that you just keep coming back to through regular and timely reviews, and each version feeds into the school improvement process.
Author: Matthew Klimcke, Senior Lead Inspector and Education Specialist
For more in-depth analysis and advice about effective self-evaluation, read the article, “An introduction to effective self-evaluation for Middle Leaders”:
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