It's September. Does your staff know what your expectations are?
Unfortunately, many supervisors often confuse summative evaluation criteria with personal expectations. The distinction between the two are immense and the consequences of confusing them – often at the cost of never explaining personal expectations to a staff – can make the difference between an adequate versus exemplary organization. It can also make the difference between a supportive versus distrustful, confident versus insecure staff.
Hopefully, whatever formal evaluation tool you use in your system, it is based on research-supported standards. It is commonplace now for most systems to require a fairly uniform application of procedures, timelines, and observation protocols in which all staff are required to be trained. Much has been made of providing adequate training to the staff as well as to the administrators – with special focus on inter-rater reliability. Inter-rater reliability is a reasonable goal, but a difficult objective to reach. One reason why 100% inter-rater reliability is unattainable is that no appraiser can completely ignore or eliminate their personal biases and prejudices.
Over time I have become increasingly convinced that the single largest distinction between low-performing or adequate campuses and exemplary campuses is the degree to which the administration has or has not established and explained the mandated standards and personal expectations to their staff. In her book, It's Being Done, Karin Chenoweth, provides clear evidence regarding the importance of establishing clear standards and expectations for both students and staff.
I argue that what causes differences of opinion regarding any job performance is the part that our personal expectations bring to influence on any model of standards that are being applied. In other words, I can explain all the accepted standards that are contained in the state’s adopted evaluation model (PDAS), but if I fail to include my personal biases and prejudices, my staff is left blind, and their evaluations will be less that honest.
Every administrator, supervisor, and evaluator has a responsibility to guarantee that those they evaluate are as informed and aware of all factors about their job performance which will be held up for accountability – rather stated or not, obvious or implied.
If I had not experienced the ridiculous application of personal bias in the evaluation process, I might not appreciate it fully. In past years I have been criticized in my summative observations for such things as “being too involved in the community”, “wearing a mustache”, “not raising enough for a community charity”, “failing to have my cafeteria properly cleaned by 9am”, and “not replacing broken door number signs fast enough.”
Interestingly enough, I’ve never been criticized for lack of leadership in the area of instruction. But in other areas, the criticisms have always been based on the biases and prejudices of the current administrator. I was never told that my campus level of giving to a certain charity would be on my summative evaluation. When I questioned why, I learned that my superintendent sat on the board of directors. Had I known, yes, I would have turned up my efforts a notch. Why? Because it was obviously an expectation of my job performance. I just didn't know it.
Thus, the question: what personal expectations do I have for my staff. What biases and prejudices do I hold that will influence my evaluation of staff. And have I informed staff of these expectations?
I have spent a great deal of time going over both state-mandated standards as well as my own personal expectations for staff. Through inservice, via email, in private conferences, and with feedback after all walk-throughs I try to leave no question in anyone's mind what I am looking for.
[I am attaching a brochure which I give to staff which is used as a discussion starter in staff development for outlining my standards and expectations. Download walkthrough_brochure.pdf ]
Whether it is the application and evaluation of mandated standards or compliance with my personal desires for staff performance, when it comes to the high quality of accomplishment that is our goal for this campus, there should be no doubts about what the expectations are.
It's Being Done - Academic Success in Unexpected School, Karin Chenoweth, Harvard Education Press, 2007