Linking professional development to individual and school objectives

UWC Changshu China

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UWC Changshu China is a member of the United World Colleges, one of eighteen UWC schools and colleges around the world and received World IB School Status in 2015. UWC Changshu China provides education for students aged 15 - 19 and teaches the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma as its formal curriculum, a qualification that UWC played a major part in developing, while also emphasising the importance of experiential learning, community service and outdoor activities.

"I would recommend BlueSky. Everything is filed and stored in one centralised place to keep all the information you need in terms of evaluation reflections, goal setting accountability, and professional learning."

Christoph Genz
Deputy Dean of Faculty

The Challenge

Leaders at UWC Changshu China had developed processes and practice internally and were looking to streamline appraisal and professional development for both teaching and support staff. They wanted to invest in an online platform to support a bottom-up approach to individual target setting. Leaders needed to see a total picture of a staff member's progress in one easy to access online platform, and at a strategic level, they wanted to be able to align and report on individual targets linked with the school improvement plan.

BlueSky's Role

UWC Changshu China uses BlueSky for objective and goal setting, self-review and reflection, objectives review meetings, peer to peer observation, formal lesson observation, and professional learning.

The Impact

"For us, one aspect of most impact is the peer to peer observation where we encourage people to drop in to other colleagues' classes. These are not formal lesson observations, they can stay for a minimum of twenty minutes, not to evaluate other colleagues but to reflect on their own practice. Staff then record their reflections in BlueSky to help with their professional development," says Christoph.

"Another aspect of using BlueSky is the evidence we can provide during accreditation. We are going through the process to be accredited by NEASC and their principles are linked to our vision building programme as well as our school learning principles that staff relate their objectives to and can upload evidence accordingly. The NEASC Accreditor is very happy because all the information is in one place!" adds Christoph.

"We also use BlueSky for formal lesson observations. We expect line managers to do a certain number of formal lesson observations and they are slightly more in depth to address a range of areas, not just a couple of points as with the peer to peer observations. I do like the option of customising everything, of making it really pertinent to your school, your needs and organisation. We created the review templates ourselves, although BlueSky does have a large variety to choose from. Being able to create your own is really useful as it makes it individual to your school," says Christoph.

Professional development is also managed through BlueSky. "Staff are able to record their professional development activities through BlueSky and use that as reflection when talking about career progression. They can link their development with their objectives and upload evidence to support their professional development activities.," says Christoph