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Auditing Schools – 360 Degree Feedback for Teachers

Priya Madhyan, HR Head – LIFE EDUCARE

Teachers are the biggest differentiators between two schools that may have everything else similar. In the current times when sourcing, recruiting, and retaining a teacher has become a grave concern for schools in India, most of the progressive schools have started to look for a better teacher feedback and appraisal mechanism. 360-degree feedback mechanism is a new but comprehensive way to assess a teacher’s productivity. This helps in creating an even platform for the faculty and helps the school become an ‘Equal Opportunity Employer’.

While the schools in Europe and America have been following these for decades, international schools in India affiliated to International Baccalaureate and CIE (University of Cambridge) have also been doing this for some time now. However, mass schooling boards like CBSE, ICSE and the state boards have not really advocated this for their schools. The National Education Policy (NEP) – 2020 has indicated that the teacher development and feedback mechanism is going to be a focal point once the policy hits the floor and is implemented. It is imperative that the schools in India follow a transparent mechanism for their teacher evaluation.

“Our teachers deserve better feedback.” – Bill Gates – Founder, Microsoft Corporation. 

The system advocates to collect feedback from all the stakeholders associated with a teacher and is all pervasive in its approach. From academic delivery to behavior, to skills and certain ethical attributes that can be vital for a teacher to deliver better in school are identified and assessed. This helps a school to see the overall picture of an employee’s performance. Once the feedback is compiled and analyzed, the system also helps in tracing how efficient and productive a certain faculty is. Analogous to the multiple points on a compass, 360-degree feedback provides each employee the opportunity to receive performance feedback. 360-degree performance appraisal proves to be one of the most credible forms of employee assessment. If conducted at regular intervals, it is a boon for developmental activities for teachers and majorly enables the schools to fulfill their vision. Greater amount of learning and parents’ satisfaction can be achieved via 360-degree feedback mechanism.

The 5 most common evaluators included in 360-degree feedback are:

  • Immediate supervisor
  • Fellow teachers
  • Students
  • Parents
  • Self

The number of feedback providers could be determined by the size of the organization, the process to be followed by the school, the time constraint, the level of seriousness in the organization about the feedback etc. LIFE EDUCARE recommends that all the stakeholders should be involved in the process.

The 360-Degree assessment process helps schools increase awareness of their team’s strengths & areas where there is a scope of improvement. This also helps the school’s leadership team to develop long term improvement plans. When the results of a function or team is consolidated, it provides invaluable input about organizational opportunities & it builds leadership ability, enhances teacher engagement & improves school’s performance.

The essence of 360-degree feedback lies in the anonymity of the feedback. It should be intact. In some cases, the feedback can also be from external sources like external trainer or non-teaching staff. Others’ opinions are as vital as self-evaluation, for it leaves individuals to reflect on the gap between what they think of their work performance and how others rate them.

These are important traits that a teacher shall have because these are the skills, we want the teachers to pass on to the students. A teacher can only give what she/he has!

There are several reasons to involve more stakeholders in this analysis:

  • Building a culture of openness & trust
  • Promoting Teamwork
  • Creating highly involved and motivated team of educators
  • An open platform to fight with the barriers to the school’s success
  • Identification of performance threshold
  • Draws a realistic picture of their strong and weak areas
  • Identifies teacher’s teamwork, collaboration, coordination, and sensitivity towards colleagues
  • Gives an overall view of the teacher’s teaching skills, communication skills, behavioral skills, learning curve and her/his other abilities that is needed to be a progressive teacher

Highlights of the Survey Conducted by LIFE EDUCARE

As per a survey done by team LIFE EDUCARE in January 2019, nearly 57 percent teachers said that they do not clearly understand what the Principal / Management expects from them, they just say, “There ae complaints from the parents and you need to perform better”.

 Nearly 72 percent Principals said that they changed their previous job because there was persistent pressure to improve the school’s performance and the board of management kept saying, “You need to do better”. But no one told them, the areas, in which areas they need to improve upon.

A 360-degree feedback mechanism will minimize the ambiguity in the organization and will help people set their professional growth goals, help everyone in identifying professional development needs and helps in students’ achievement.

To run a successful 360-degree feedback program, it is important that the data gathered via the feedback is actionable. The intent is to link feedback received to the organization’s goals and initiatives and to the employee’s professional career development.

This complete cycle can be done in a month, or it can also be planned as a yearlong activity and can be made as a part of the school’s calendar. We at LIFE recommend that this should be imbibed in the school’s working style and should be a yearlong process and the appraisal of all the staff members shall be done based on the scores of the feedback process. The schools should carefully design the questionnaire for each category of teachers. The feedback criteria for an Early Years Educator will be different from someone who is teaching in high school. Likewise, activity teachers cannot be assessed on the same criteria that is set for a middle school teacher. The last but the most important aspect of this process is to give an unbiased and harmonious feedback to the teachers. The application and monitoring / auditing of the feedback is another important key to a successful feedback program. There are companies who have made software available to do the same, however, a neatly done excel sheet with google forms and / or a credible survey site can be the cost-effective way to do the same.

Doing the above is no doubt a time-consuming process, but that is for the first time. The corresponding benefits of having a 360-degree feedback mechanism are immense. The schools that follow this have improved manifolds in terms of employees’ tenure with the organization, self-learning, teamwork, commitment towards the organization & many more. The gaps identified during the data collection and analysis, if are addressed well without bias, will provide tangible benefits. This also helps in better coordination among the team members, better rapport with each other and visible difference in overall performance of the school.

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