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Appraisal and teaching as inquiry

In recent years, many schools have focused their professional learning on the teaching as inquiry process outlined on page 35 of The New Zealand Curriculum.  The Teaching as Inquiry process provides a deliberate model by which teachers can inquire into their practice and find, measure, and document a pathway for improvement. The model is cyclic and, when used effectively, involves teachers in constantly evaluating their practice based on evidence and seeking improvement.

There is an obvious, yet perhaps overlooked, link between the teaching as inquiry process, which many teachers are using to focus on improvement, and schools’ appraisal processes. The teaching as inquiry process provides an ideal vehicle to support the developmental purpose of the teacher appraisal process. Moreover, the process and its documentation can be used to provide evidence of accountability against the Registered Teacher Criteria. This means that the two purposes of appraisal – development and accountability – can be achieved through the teaching as inquiry process when it is carried out with the intent and the thoroughness described in The New Zealand Curriculum.

Through linking appraisal and teaching as inquiry, schools can:

  • provide teachers with opportunities to assess and develop their capabilities
  • show that standards are being met
  • allow the summative judgements to be made against the Registered Teacher Criteria.

Useful readings

The documents and links below provide some examples of ways that schools can look at the conjunction between appraisal and teaching as inquiry. 

Education Council – Appraisal of Teachers project

The Education Council, formerly the New Zealand Teachers Council, ran a two-year project to improve appraisal practices in ECE, schools, and kura aiming to strengthen the relationship between appraisal and professional learning and development for all teachers. The resources from the Appraisal of Teachers project are helpful for positioning teaching as inquiry as an essential component of teacher appraisal. 

Teacher appraisal guidelines: To improve, not just to prove

These guidelines are for use when a school is designing, implementing, or reviewing its teacher appraisal system. 

Teacher inquiry, appraisal, and portfolios for staff

Nick Rate, school principal and e-learning guru, shares his school’s approach to teaching as inquiry and its relationship to the school’s performance management process, using digital portfolios.

Meaningful and manageable teacher appraisal

Rochelle Jensen (Rocky), teacher and digi-advisor, shows how a rich teaching as inquiry question can encompass and provide evidence for many of the 12 Registered Teacher Criteria. 

Ruia: Teacher appraisal for Māori learners’ success

This website is structured around an inquiry cycle for teachers to work through with leaders, reflecting the close connection between whole-school cycles of professional learning and appraisal.

Leading inquiry at a teacher level

This article by Mike Fowler was published in Set 3, 2012, and talks about the critical role that middle-level leaders in schools have as they work with the teaching as inquiry process.

Teacher appraisal: Missed opportunities for learning

This link is to a doctoral thesis by Claire Sinnema of the University of Auckland. It outlines a model of teacher appraisal focused on data-based inquiry into student learning.