Have you ever looked closely at mosaic artwork?
Mosaics are known for the hundreds of unique colorful pieces arranged into patterns to create larger, singular decorative designs.
When I was younger, I had a World Map mosaic jigsaw puzzle. This puzzle was made up of hundreds of small images blended together to create a larger portrait of the globe.
Puzzles are challenging for me regardless of design. Adding a mosaic spin to this particular puzzle proved to be especially difficult.
Holding individual pieces in my fingers produced very little information about the larger puzzle. It wasn’t until I looked for patterns within the puzzle that I saw how the bigger picture came together.
The way we look at mosaic artwork should be similar to how we should treat employee performance.
When focusing solely on individual pieces, there is a good chance we become misled about the bigger picture. Instead, we must consider how all the separate pieces combine to produce the entire body of work.
All teachers have at least one "horror story" about an administrator classroom visit. Whether students are misbehaving, the class is watching a movie, or the teacher is checking her cell phone - everyone can recall a time when questionable moments were observed by an evaluator.
How leaders respond to witnessing these blunders speak to this "piece versus pattern" idea.
While most administrators are willing to collect more evidence before forming an opinion on the teacher, some administrators immediately assume the employee is substandard.
Unfortunately, school leaders who make knee-jerk decisions on employees after one untimely observation create a culture of mistrust within their faculty. When word circulates their abilities are defined by one mistake, teachers will live in fear and second-guess every classroom decision.
Principals - how would you react if your boss determined your performance was unsatisfactory after one underwhelming faculty meeting? Superintendents - what if the Board decided you were not cut for the job after one poorly managed parent interaction?
Effective leaders realize the importance of zooming out to look the bigger picture rather than focus on small blemishes.
What are some ideas to consider for developing a clear image of teacher performance?
Make a Collage: Beyond classroom visits, leaders must consider several different types of data when making evaluative judgements. Examples could include achievement scores, relationships with co-workers, student behavior data, stakeholder feedback, and completion of assigned responsibilities.
Change of Scenery: To gather various forms of data, leaders must get out of the office and into the trenches where teachers operate. While qualitative feedback and public perception should play a role in employee appraisal, leaders must observe staff in their natural surroundings to make a fully-informed decision.
Depth Perception: School leaders put their staff at ease when they openly discuss the need to gather several pieces of feedback rather than focus on single events. Whereas many leaders assume staff understand this approach, in reality many staff do not know how professional performance is measured.
Group Project: What's better than one person putting together the pieces to a puzzle? Two people. Groups of evaluators who put their heads together to determine teacher effectiveness produce more accurate results. Check out 5 Ideas to Improve Teacher Evaluation for more on this team-approach concept.
It took me several weeks to complete World Map mosaic jigsaw puzzle. As I placed the last piece the bigger picture finally came into focus. Had I stopped earlier in the process, I never would have reached a point where I could see the full portrait.
As leaders we must move beyond taking one snapshot and calling it a day. Rather, we must be committed to combining several unique pieces together to create a larger, singular picture of employee performance.