Comprehensive Faculty Development (iPad)

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New Book From ISM Focuses On Faculty Growth and Development

Independent School Management developed this guidebook to help private-independent schools implement, manage, and sustain effective practices for faculty hiring, evaluation, development, compensation, and selective retention. While we strive at all points to support teachers to the fullest, this book is ultimately not about teachers—it is really about students. We believe, by following these guidelines, your school will ultimately increase student performance, satisfaction, and enthusiasm. By supporting teachers, your school supports its students and helps ensure its long-term growth and success.

This book is written based on ISM’s experience since 1975 in guiding private-independent administrators, as well as from current knowledge of research and best practices in the human resources, performance, evaluation, growth and renewal, management, and leadership fields of study. Much of the content is derived from ISM’s own research studies (i.e., Research on School Management and the Student Experience Study).

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Chapter One: The Comprehensive Faculty Development Model

  • From the Teacher’s Point of View: Experiencing the ‘Life Cycle of Events’
  • Using a Comprehensive Approach to Developing and Sustaining an Exemplary Faculty

Chapter Two: Legal Background and Compliance Issues

  • Federal, State, and Local Laws Impacting Hiring, Evaluation, Reward, and Termination Practices
  • Keeping It Simple: What an Administrator Really Needs To Know About Employment Law Summary

Chapter Three: Establishing Your School's Characteristics of Professional Excellence

  • ISM’s Research-Based List of Characteristics of Professional Excellence for Faculty
  • Creating a Customized List of Characteristics
  • Establishing a Characteristics Design Team
  • Additional Observations
  • CODA: Characteristics of Professional Excellence for Aegis Academy

Chapter Four: A Mission-Based Hiring Process

  • A Mission-Based Hiring Process
  • Developing a List of Characteristics: A Practical Matter
  • Hiring Process Overview
  • Hiring Process: Step-by-Step Details

Chapter Five: The Induction Process

  • Inducting New Teachers
  • Inducting New Teachers: A Sample Two-Year Calendar

Chapter Six: Evaluation And Growth Cycle

  • Purpose and Goals of the Evaluation and Growth Cycle
  • Point of Reference: Traditional Teacher Evaluation
  • Managers’ Core Role: Enhancing the Capacity of Faculty
  • Predictability and Supportiveness Within the Evaluation and Growth Cycle
  • Coaching and Mentoring
  • Counterpoint: Managing Doesn’t Mean Micromanaging
  • For Long-Time ISM Readers: A Word about MFE
  • Step 1: Setting Expectations
  • Step 2: Observing Performance and Providing Feedback
  • Step 3: Evaluating Performance
  • Step 4: Guiding Growth and Renewal
  • Common Element: Coaching and Mentoring

Chapter Seven: Rewards And Recognition

  • Traditional Compensation Structures in Schools
  • Merit-Pay Structures
  • Broadbanding
  • The Question of Performance/Impact: Advanced Analysis
  • Before Taking the Plunge: Reassessing Your School’s Readiness for Merit Pay

Chapter Eight: Corrective Action And Selective Retention

  • Corrective Action: Proceeding Down Dual Tracks in Our Minds
  • Elements of Effective Corrective-Action Practices
  • Model Corrective-Action Process
  • When the Corrective-Action Process Shouldn’t Be Used
  • Sample Corrective-Action Policy Language
  • Documenting Performance and Conduct
  • Conducting a Corrective-Action Meeting
  • When All Is Said and Done: Time to Part Ways
  • Employment At-Will and Employment Contracts
  • Conducting a Termination Meeting
  • Special Case: The Use of Separation Agreements
  • Coda: Knowing When You Are Safe

Chapter Nine: Assessing The School's Faculty Development Efforts Through The Prism Of The Faculty Culture

  • Approaches to Assessing and Monitoring Processes and Culture
  • Sample Targeted Surveys (Processes and Programs)
  • Healthy Faculty Cultures Defined and Explored
  • Using the ISM’s Faculty Culture Profile II
  • Frequency and Timing of Surveys
  • Final Note: The “Now What” Issue


The Comprehensive Faculty Development Model

The dictionary defines “talent” as “a special ability or aptitude; a capacity for achievement or success;” and, in the collective, as “a group of persons with special ability.” Linking this definition with the JFK quote that opens this chapter expresses well the goal of this book. In these pages, we aim to help private-independent schools—through use of tools and frameworks—to engage with teachers in a way that enables them to develop and use their talents along lines of excellence for the benefit of their students, colleagues, the school community at large, and themselves.

To develop these tools and frameworks, ISM engaged in an intensive study of the needs of 21st Century Schools and school leaders, of which this book is one outcome. This examination was comprised of:

  • reflecting on changes we have observed while working with hundreds of schools of all sizes, missions, pedagogies, and philosophies during the past decade;
  • reviewing the writing and observations of leading educators and management experts; and
  • examining societal, generational, technological, and legal changes impacting teachers, students, parents, community members, and schools.

Based on these reflections, we have come to a number of conclusions regarding what is required for schools to thrive in the hyper-competitive 21st century environment. With respect to faculty and administrators, we believe that schools need to:

  • view the primary task of academic administrators to be that of increasing the capacity of their teachers (i.e., helping teachers grow);
  • measure teacher effectiveness on a regular and ongoing basis;
  • establish deeply engaging individual growth and renewal plans that take both a short-term and long-term approach to investing in each teacher’s strengths; and
  • hold teachers and administrators accountable for their performance.

Holding faculty accountable has three related aspects.

  1. Recognizing, supporting, and rewarding mission-appropriate faculty who are working to a standard of excellence;
  2. Providing active support for struggling faculty members to reattain and exceed performance standards, such as through coaching and mentoring, and where necessary, formal corrective action; and
  4. Identifying and making the hard decisions to terminate the toxic, mediocre, incompetent, and/or mission-inappropriate faculty members (i.e., those who still aren’t succeeding even with the school’s structured support, either due to skill deficits or misalignment with the school’s mission, culture, and values).

We believe that for these aims to be achieved consistently, schools must institute systematic approaches to managing teacher performance, from hiring through retirement. The system we recommend—based on the premise that what is not guided purposefully improves only at random—is the basis for this book.

From the Teacher’s Point of View: Experiencing the ‘Life Cycle of Events’

Before delving into the details of the systematic approach proposed, first consider the faculty-school relationship from the individual teacher’s perspective. Interactions in a teacher’s employment experience with the school include responding to a job ad, interviewing, negotiating a salary and benefits package, receiving a performance review, being permitted (or required) to pursue professional development opportunities, and the like. Teachers experience only certain of these activities—such as hiring and termination—once during their tenure with the school, while others—such as performance evaluations and professional development—will likely be experienced on an annual basis.

The following diagram puts these activities into pictorial form, placing the events in roughly sequential order throughout the teacher’s career.

Faculty Life Cycle of Events

Mission, Culture, and Values at the Center

You will notice that the words “mission,” “culture,” and “values” are at the center of the diagram—surrounded by a series of two-way arrows. This is meant to suggest two things.

  1. Ideally, candidates and employees sense that mission is the foundation of all interactions with them—i.e., all processes align with and support the school’s mission.
  2. These interactions both reflect and impact the school’s culture and values—e.g., the hiring of a new teacher reflects the school’s values in the selection while also impacting these same values through the new teacher’s interactions in the daily life of the school.

Using a Comprehensive Approach to Developing and Sustaining an Exemplary Faculty

When not purposefully designed, the events shown above may feel disparate and disconnected from one another—i.e., things that need to be done for paperwork or compliance purposes, but which don’t seemingly connect to or support the school’s mission, culture, and values in any way. Such a state of affairs is exactly the opposite of what the school is trying to achieve.

For purposes of effectiveness, the school will want to ensure that all employment-related activities are coming from a common base or starting point (i.e., the school’s mission). For efficiency purposes, the school will further wish to design its processes in such a way as to be replicable and repeatable—whether from division to division, or year to year—so that it can ensure that effective practices are being used consistently and continually.

To these ends, ISM’s Comprehensive Faculty Development Model is comprised of distinct, as well as overlapping, processes that are connected by a common thread and which individually and collectively aim to support and reflect the school’s mission, culture, and values.

  • Hiring and Induction
    The school begins with a definition of the skills, characteristics, and experience required for the position. With that in place, it can then initiate advertising, interviewing, checking references, and selection. This process extends into effective induction, which actually begins by articulating the school’s expectations of faculty during the hiring process. Induction continues post-hire as an 18- to 24-month process of orienting new faculty to the school’s mission, culture, and values and supporting them as they acclimate to the responsibilities of faculty at your school.
  • Evaluation and Growth Cycle
    Starting from describing the school’s expectations of faculty during hiring and reiterating them during induction, this process incorporates setting expectations, observing performance, giving feedback, formally evaluating performance, and guiding growth and renewal—all tied together by ongoing coaching and mentoring.
  • Reward and Recognition Process
    For schools not using merit pay, this process uses evaluation as a way to recognize and appreciate excellence, provide opportunities for leadership within the faculty culture, and enable administrators to publicly and privately acknowledge a job well-done. For schools utilizing merit pay, in addition to the above, this process uses evaluation as a key element in setting individual teacher compensation.
  • Corrective Action and Selective Retention
    Whereas the school’s evaluation and growth cycle helps the school identify highly qualified, mission-appropriate faculty that it seeks to retain, the corrective-action process aims to support struggling faculty in regaining satisfactory performance. “Selective retention” denotes a process to help the school make hard decisions about mission-inappropriate teachers that it must dismiss or whose contracts it will not renew.

From the school’s perspective, this systematic approach is represented pictorially by the following diagram.

ISM's Comprehensive Faculty Development Model

The Common Thread

As we will express in more detail in Chapter 2 and all following chapters, well-defined Characteristics of Professional Excellence (CPEs) serve as the thread tying together each process into an integrated whole. In formal language, we describe these characteristics as “the specific behaviors, values, and attitudes that must be present in strength within your faculty in order for the school’s mission to be delivered with excellence to your students.” More colloquially, we can describe characteristics as “the how” of faculty life in the school—that is, how faculty interact with students, parents, and colleagues to bring your mission to life, and ultimately to fulfillment.

As an example of characteristics serving as a thread, your list of characteristics can form the basis of the school’s interview questions and thus help determine which candidates to hire. The same characteristics are reinforced during induction and serve as the basis for the school’s evaluation of faculty. Coming full circle, the presence or absence of these characteristics influences merit pay and serves as a key factor in decisions to retain the faculty member, or not.

Implementing This Model

In Chapters 3–8, we walk through each of the elements of the Comprehensive Faculty Development Model in detail for the purpose of helping private school leaders implement this system in their schools in a way that supports, reflects, and sustains the mission, culture, and values of their school. Implementing this model doesn’t necessarily require the school to do more than it is doing already—i.e., all schools ordinarily hire faculty, orient them, compensate them, and make decisions as to who will be retained (offered new contracts) each year. What it does require is that the school think differently, conceiving of these activities as an interrelated series of events and proactively managing these events on that basis. By doing so, the school will be taking significant steps toward ensuring its ability to deliver its mission with excellence to current and future generations of students.

If we believe great teaching is our hedgehog as independent schools, then you will agree that the Comprehensive Faculty Development book is the best resource ISM has ever published. Read it, personalize it, put it into practice and teaching excellence will be bolstered on your campus! If creating an exceptional faculty culture is important to you, this book is written with your school in mind.

Steve D. Whitaker, Head of School,
The First Academy (Orlando, FL)

Thinking about hiring in the context of the mission of your school and tied to the entire process of faculty coaching and evaluation is an invaluable perspective. It’s the clarity and articulation of this ‘big picture’ that makes this book so helpful. The detailed information on how to design each step of the process makes this an important and accessible guide for any administrator.

Nancy Leaderman, Upper School Principal,
Golda Och Academy (West Orange, NJ)

Many wise and experienced Heads of School continue to see hiring, employee induction, evaluation, professional development, and retention as separate entities. The Comprehensive Faculty Development book places these seemingly disparate leadership responsibilities in the same orbit of excellence. My leadership team and I have found the ISM model to be inspiring and informative as we work together to build the capacity of our faculty. We now share a comprehensive and compelling vision for faculty evaluation. At the end of the day, our students are the direct beneficiaries of our efforts—student growth and achievement soar when we are diligent about ensuring faculty excellence.

Wanda M. Holland Greene, Head of School,
The Hamlin School (San Francisco, CA)

We have adopted ISM’s Comprehensive Faculty Development model as the foundation for our new faculty coaching, mentoring, and evaluation system. We embrace the system’s primary focus on fostering a commitment by teachers to ongoing professional development and continuous improvement of their practice for the benefit of student learning. The impressive attention to the details makes the book an invaluable resource for any school or individual concerned with the development of teachers.

Martin Ferrell, Dean of Academics,
Hawai’i Preparatory Academy (Kamuela, HI)

The Comprehensive Faculty Development model challenged us to examine what is really important at our school. The model is rooted in our mission and challenged us to clearly identify the Professional Characteristics that are unique to us. We will use them not only to measure teacher effectiveness but also to create renewal and growth plans for our faculty. We have been more than satisfied with the results and highly recommend this model for independent schools!

Barbara Daush, President,
St. Agnes Academy—St. Dominic School (Memphis, TN)

I found this book to be meaningful and relevant, written in an easy-to-understand language. I felt as though the author was engaged in a conversation with me. The overall process makes sense, both from an educational point and from a practical point. As a Division Head, getting into classrooms to make observations is so important. Doing the short one makes the process not only doable but sustainable over the years.

Kathy Christoph, Middle School Principal,
Dwight-Englewood School (Englewood, NJ)

ISM’s recent book about teacher selection, development, and evaluation provides an exhaustive, but not exhausting, examination of these crucial educational topics. As a committed adherent to ISM’S mission-based and data-driven approach to teacher induction and growth, I willingly read ISM’s newest offering. I was not disappointed. Reflecting ISM’s standard of helpful graphics that combine thoughtful content with reasoned discussion, the book delivers what it promises. In fact, Comprehensive Faculty Development carries ISM’s instruction to the next level, not only providing material that is directly applicable to contemporary independent schools but also explaining how this application should occur.

Dr. Karen J. Ristuccia, Academic Dean,
The Wilberforce School (Princeton, NJ)
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