Person looking at chart data at desk

The end of the school year is so gratifying and empowering in the sense that you have triumphed and persevered through another school year – this one more challenging than ever. You can see the light at the end of the tunnel as you reflect on all of the amazing things you and your teachers have accomplished this year. I offer you a sincere congratulations … and a cautionary wait-just-a-minute, Principal Extraordinaire. Great principals know that you must close out one school year while simultaneously planning for the next one. So, before you call 2020-21 done, make sure 2021-22 is ready to go. The great news for you is that NEE can assist with some of the prep that must be done to ensure the next school year gets off the ground running.

What follows are a few items to plan for now using resources and data available to you in NEE.

Professional Development Plans

The end of the school year requires reflection and review. Building improvement plans must be reviewed and revised, and a new professional development plan must be developed.

Analyzing your NEE data can be of great benefit as you attempt to determine the needs of your building, teacher groups, and individuals. Reviewing your Indicator Trend Report will give you insight into the strengths and areas of needed growth for your staff as a whole. You also have the obligation to provide PD for small groups of teachers like grade-level teams, data teams, and department teams. Don’t forget that you can now filter the Indicator Trend Report to reflect these groups. One-size-fits-all PD doesn’t grow teachers efficiently or effectively, and the PD plan should reflect this thinking.

Besides the Indicator Trend Report, you also have access to the comments you made after each observation sitting in the NEE Data Tool online evaluation system. These are important sources of information as you try to determine the nuances of your PD plan. Simply looking at the average scores of each of your indicators does not provide the information needed to design focused PD. Look at your observation comments to glean specifically what it is your teachers need in order to take the next step in their growth. You will find very different needs for teachers across grade levels, teams, and departments. This same review of post-observation comments should guide the development of individual teacher PD plans, which also need to be created by the end of the year ready to roll out the first day of school. Your PD plan should reflect your effort to provide focused personalized learning for all.

Note: As you start your PD plan and teachers start their PD plans this spring, please use the Word Document organizers available in the Help and Resources menu. You can then copy over the text within the organizer after the school year rolls over to 2021-22 in July.

Personnel Decisions

Springtime is filled with optimism when you are a building administrator. It is the time when new hires and transfers are selected and placed in the teaching staff. Hopefully you have major influence, if not total autonomy, making these decisions. When recruiting and interviewing teachers, develop questions that reflect the focus and direction of the building. After reviewing your Indicator Trend Report and post-observation comments, use the interview to find candidates that have some knowledge and experience that match your building’s growth efforts. Selecting teachers that have some proficiency and skill in your area of focus makes your job that much easier as you cultivate a cohesive teaching staff. The same rings true as you think about the placement of new and existing teachers. What do the scores and comments tell you about the strengths of your teaching teams? Does the data indicate that all of your power players are on the same team, or does the data say that you have a particularly weak team? Does the data suggest that a teacher’s particular strength could be used to bolster another teaching team? Many factors go into making teacher placement decisions; let your NEE data be one of them.

Indicator Selection

Spring is also the time you should be deciding which indicators will be in play for the upcoming school year. Is it time to move on from the current indicators? Have you just scratched the surface? Have we beat this dead horse one too many times? Even though there is no secret formula that will tell you to keep steadfast to your current indicators or cut them loose, you do have some data and tools that will help in your decision making.

Use your filters in the Data Tool to make sure you know how long you have been scoring particular indicators. Even though the number of years you have scored an indicator isn’t the only reason to move on from it, staying with an indicator for too long invites complacency and stagnation in teacher growth. Conversely, selecting new indicators every year or two does not allow enough time for feedback, professional development, and practice to influence progress. Examine and compare your trend lines over several years. What do comments left in the Data Tool by teachers indicate about their degree of comfort and success with the indicators? What indicators are trending as teachers develop their own PD plans? All of these factors should help you and your team decide the appropriate indicators to move the building forward.

Enjoy the spring weather, celebrate the great work you accomplished in this the most challenging of school years, and get your ducks in a row to guarantee a smooth start to a new school year. 

Cheri Patterson is a trainer and field support representative for the Network for Educator Effectiveness. She joined NEE in 2013 after an extensive career in K-12 education as a teacher, principal, and associate superintendent.

The Network for Educator Effectiveness (NEE) is a simple yet powerful comprehensive system for educator evaluation that helps educators grow, students learn, and schools improve. Developed by preK-12 practitioners and experts at the University of Missouri, NEE brings together classroom observation, student feedback, teacher curriculum planning, and professional development as measures of effectiveness in a secure online portal designed to promote educator growth and development.