Staff Focus Group Report, 2011-2012

From Info

Jump to: navigation, search

2011-2012 Report | Student Objectives Review | Profile | Progress Report | Focus Group Reports | Plan | Process

Contents

Staff: Qualified Christian staff working to achieve board ends

That’s the type of staff CAJ strives to have—qualified Christian staff working to achieve board ends. Why? Because that’s the kind of staff CAJ needs to equip students to impact the world for Christ.

Strengths and Growth Areas

Strengths

  1. Staff are committed to equipping students to impact the world for Christ.
  2. To effectively involve staff in shared responsibility, action, and accountability for equipping students to impact the world for Christ, the Leadership Team focuses staff energy, empowers staff, and provides regular opportunities for staff to work together.
  3. The Leadership Team works collaboratively to carry out CAJ’s mission.
  4. SOPHIE (Standard Operating Procedures and Helpful Information Encyclopedia) provides a wealth of information, including processes and policies, which is necessary for staff to fulfill their responsibilities.
  5. The Professional Development Plan is effective and is actively supported by the Leadership Team.
  6. The current supervision and evaluation process promotes professional growth.

Growth Areas

  1. The Leadership Team and staff do not make sufficient connections between the board ends and the mission, job descriptions, and school improvement plans.
  2. CAJ does not have a mediation process.
  3. SOPHIE (Standard Operating Procedures and Helpful Information Encyclopedia) entries, including job descriptions, are not consistently updated, due in part to the lack of a documented review process for administrative policies and plans.
  4. Compared to teaching staff, support staff are less involved in professional development, receive less evaluation, and participate in professional learning communities that do not have documented goals.
  5. The impact of professional development on measurable student learning is not sufficiently clear.
  6. CAJ’s transition to the inResonance database is not yet complete.

Summary of Findings

Leadership

  1. CAJ has documentation that defines Leadership Team and staff responsibilities, processes, and policies.
  2. CAJ has effective processes for internal communication, planning, and resolving differences (2011 Staff Survey, 59).
  3. To effectively involve staff in shared responsibility, action, and accountability for equipping students to impact the world for Christ (2011 Staff Survey, 61), the Leadership Team focuses staff energy, empowers staff, and provides regular opportunities for staff to work together.
  4. The Leadership Team regularly reviews how it involves staff in shared responsibility, action, and accountability for equipping students to impact the world for Christ; and aims to make its review increasingly comprehensive, consistent, and systemic.
  5. The Leadership Team works collaboratively to carry out CAJ's mission.
  6. The Leadership Team and staff are further developing shared understanding of the connections between the mission, board ends, job descriptions, and school improvement process and plans.
  7. The Leadership Team is on a regular cycle of evaluation.

Staff

  1. CAJ has clear, effective employment policies and processes regarding staff qualifications.
  2. The process the Leadership Team uses to determine staff assignments is based on a review of staff qualifications (Board Policy 2.2.1) and usually results in maximization of staff expertise.
  3. The Professional Development Plan is effective and is actively supported by the Leadership Team.
  4. The current supervision and evaluation process promotes professional growth.
  5. CAJ measures the impact of professional development through surveys and anecdotal feedback, and the impact of professional development on measurable student learning is not sufficiently clear.
  6. Staff are committed to equipping students to impact the world for Christ.
  7. CAJ provides member care that addresses the spiritual, social, and professional needs of staff.
  8. CAJ’s transition to the inResonance database is not yet complete.

Findings

Leadership

1. CAJ has documentation that defines Leadership Team and staff responsibilities, processes, and policies.

CAJ defines Leadership Team/staff responsibilities through job descriptions, divisional handbooks, the organizational chart, and administrative policies. Job descriptions describe, for a given position, the goal, role, parameters, and work requirements, qualifications. (The job descriptions were last updated in 2007 and do not address all positions or clearly define job-related responsibilities specific to each position.) Divisional handbooks (elementary, middle, high) give further instructional information on a variety of topics, including our life together, general expectations, communication with parents, and movie usage. The organizational chart identifies which staff report to which Leadership Team member. Finally, the school has a range of policies that define responsibilities regarding communication, child protection, harassment, and grievance.

CAJ defines Leadership Team/staff processes and policies in SOPHIE (Standard Operating Procedures and Helpful Information Encyclopedia). SOPHIE provides a wealth of information, including processes (budget process, AIM process, hiring, school improvement) and policies (accounts receivable, staff discipline, universal precautions, and the library collection), which is necessary for staff to fulfill their responsibilities. Staff are required to read specified entries each year and sign off to show they are aware of the procedures and policies. At divisional or department meetings, sections from SOPHIE are reviewed as needed. Particular sections of SOPHIE are expected to be updated annually, but SOPHIE is not consistently updated, due in part to the lack of a documented review process for administrative policies and plans.

CAJ defines Leadership/staff decision making processes through chain of command (with emphases being place on decisions being made by those closest to the work and in terms of the Leadership Team portfolio) and through consensus. For example, decision-making for curriculum and practice has been pushed down to the academic departments. Decisions about change can presently be made by the headmaster, but in practice he seeks the approval of the Leadership Team; the headmaster is asking the board to develop a policy whereby administrative policy can only be changed by a majority vote of the Leadership Team.




2. CAJ has effective processes for internal communication, planning, and resolving differences (2011 Staff Survey, 59).

CAJ has numerous processes for internal communication. These include: electronic request systems (on-campus event, maintenance, staff absence, technology, incident report, etc.), phones in each classroom, phone answering service that sends recorded message to staff members’ computers, SOPHIE, daily staff bulletin, staff web portal (contains daily attendance information, class lists, calendars, requests, emergency information, handbooks, school improvement resources, curriculum resources), cell phones (which are provided for certain job assignments), laptops (which are provided for most staff), e-mail, Google docs, “cookie” suggestion system, iCal calendar system, weekly Leadership Team planning meetings, and regular Learning Team meetings.

The extensive communication system allows leadership and staff to communicate in appropriate ways on important issues. There is also an expectation of staff to check email daily and respond promptly. The result is a high level of satisfaction with internal communication at CAJ, yet a recognition of email or information overload at times.

CAJ has processes for planning, including a school improvement process and a regular schedule of meetings (including those on Wednesday morning) during which planning takes place. Additional meetings are called by various departments or committees for planning particular events (music events, graduation, etc.). Through these planning processes, planning resources are used, for example, google docs, SOPHIE, individual laptops, iCal, and Rubicon. Further planning takes place through email (for example, the headmaster requests comment on the school calendar every year).

CAJ bases conflict resolution on Biblical teaching, discourages third-party advocacy, and encourages settling matters in person and, as necessary, using the grievance process, all of which are reviewed annually by staff. CAJ recognizes that conflict resolution (through the use of Biblical principles and school processes) is impacted by differences in culture and personal background, perceived ramifications of resolving conflicts, insufficient skill in dealing with conflict, and human fallenness. The Leadership Team and personnel manager believe that CAJ is a caring community and that there is room for growth in conflict resolution. CAJ currently does not have a documented mediation process.




3. To effectively involve staff in shared responsibility, action, and accountability for equipping students to impact the world for Christ (2011 Staff Survey, 61), the Leadership Team focuses staff energy, empowers staff, and provides regular opportunities for staff to work together.

The Leadership Team effectively focuses staff energy on equipping students (2011 Staff Survey, 62), in part by authorizing staff to carry out their assigned tasks (using job descriptions, the organizational chart, and direct supervision, including classroom walkthroughs and weekly meetings), and by using the supervision/evaluation process with teaching staff and support staff. (According to the headmaster, evaluation has not been consistently implemented for support staff).

The Leadership Team empowers staff to equip students in a variety of ways. These include asking questions, having staff participate in the school improvement process, inviting and responding to staff-initiated feedback, and supporting and encouraging professional development (which happens with more consistency for teaching staff than for support staff).

The Leadership Team provides regular opportunities each month for staff to work together in their professional learning communities (PLCs). For example, PLCs meet together on Wednesday mornings to work on their annual goals, including developing curriculum and writing plans and policy. Teaching staff PLCs goals are documented, and support staff PLCs goals are not yet documented. Not all PLCs meet regularly.




4. The Leadership Team regularly reviews how it involves staff in shared responsibility, action, and accountability for equipping students to impact the world for Christ; and aims to make its review increasingly comprehensive, consistent, and systemic.

The Leadership Team meets weekly, focusing on how CAJ can better equip students as it considers a range of issues, including job descriptions, supervision and evaluation (teaching staff, support staff), staff initiated feedback, professional development, and teams (Learning Team, Support Team, professional learning communities, Advisory Council).

The Leadership Team uses SOPHIE (Standard Operating Procedures and Helpful Information Encyclopedia) to document the ways it involves staff and expects SOPHIE entries to be reviewed annually and updated as appropriate. Leadership Team members and staff are tasked with maintaining and updating specific SOPHIE entries and request possible policy changes from the Leadership Team. Some entries are current (organizational chart and improvement process), and some are not up-to-date (job descriptions).




5. The Leadership Team works collaboratively to carry out CAJ's mission.

Individual Leadership Team members are responsible for various sections of the school, and the Leadership Team makes collaborative decisions regarding staffing, admissions, school improvement, and budgeting. The team meets regularly, and at the headmaster’s request, is working to develop a policy whereby administrative policy can be changed only by the Leadership Team, and not by the headmaster.




6. The Leadership Team and staff are further developing shared understanding of the connections between the mission, board ends, job descriptions, and school improvement process and plans.

Staff talk about CAJ’s mission and one board end (students achieving the student objectives), using them as frameworks. Staff talk less about the remaining ends.




7. The Leadership Team is on a regular cycle of evaluation.

The board evaluates the headmaster annually, basing it on compliance with board policy and feedback/input from the Leadership Team. Staff are not asked to provide input on the headmaster’s annual evaluation. Remaining Leadership Team members (teaching staff, support staff) are evaluated by the headmaster. Some divisions have input into the evaluation of their Leadership Team member, but it is not consistent across all divisions or departments. According to the headmaster, the goal is to have staff give input on all appropriate Leadership Team members.



Staff

1. CAJ has clear, effective employment policies and processes regarding staff qualifications.

Board Policy 2.2.1 stipulates that all staff are required to be a born-again Christian who models a Christ-like lifestyle, be active in a local church, support for the missionary effort in Japan, be committed to CAJ’s mission philosophy, demonstrate emotional maturity and good judgment, be willing to acquire a basic knowledge of Japanese, and have the skills, training and experience appropriate to the position. Additionally, Board Policy 2.2.1.9 stipulates that all teaching staff must have a bachelor’s degree and one of the following: government teacher certification, ACSI teacher certification, or an alternative plan for education approved by the headmaster.

As part of the hiring process, CAJ evaluates the qualifications of applicants. Applicants submit a preliminary application, which is then used for screening purposes. Suitable applicants are required to provide documentation (statement of faith, transcripts, and references) and participate in an interview. Exceptions may be made to the hiring process.

The Leadership Team and human resource coordinator find using the policies and processes to be clear and usable.




2. The process the Leadership Team uses to determine staff assignments is based on a review of staff qualifications (Board Policy 2.2.1) and usually results in maximization of staff expertise.

As a starting point, each year in October staff are surveyed and asked to indicate if they would like to keep the same assignment or explore other options; part-time staff are also asked about the percentage of time they would like to work. The headmaster reviews the survey data and talks with staff who have requested an interview. When a position becomes available, it is posted internally. Current staff may apply for it before the position is posted externally. All applications are then reviewed as part of the hiring process. The Leadership Team reviews applicant qualifications and strives to maximize expertise. The Leadership Team reserves the right to make exceptions, noting that it may not be true that the best qualified person on paper, for example, is the person the Leadership Team feels is the best for the job, given other factors which cannot be disclosed. Overall, staff believe that Leadership Team maximizes staff expertise when making job assignments (2011 Staff Survey, 64).




3. The Professional Development Plan is effective and is actively supported by the Leadership Team.

In compliance with Board Policy 2.2.14 regarding professional development, the Leadership Team has developed and implemented an effective, comprehensive professional development plan that explains our professional development philosophy, goals, calendar, opportunities, resources, funding guidelines, and application procedure. As a result of implementing our professional development plan, CAJ has increased spending and the number of staff receiving professional development reimbursements has increased. Currently, 82% of teaching staff and 52% of support staff agree or strongly agree that they are involved in professional development activities (2011 Staff Survey, 65), and the Leadership Team wants to see these percentages increase in the future.

The Leadership Team actively supports the Professional Development Plan in a variety of ways. For example, the Leadership Team helps determine and communicate the professional development goals, and helps staff be aware of professional development opportunities and resources by posting information on CAJ’s intranet and communicating information through the Staff Bulletin and email. The Leadership Team provides professional development funding for department memberships and for individual professional development. (Individual staff members receive ¥40,000 per year that can be accrued for up to 3 year and that can be augmented by financial scholarships and the staff education budget.)

Additionally, the Leadership Team provides time for staff to pursue onsite professional development, including in August before classes start, on 2-3 professional development days, and during 75-minute Wednesday morning meetings that full-time staff are required to attend and part-time teachers are strongly encouraged to attend. During these Wednesday meetings, professional learning communities study and implement Understanding by Design, focus groups discuss school improvement, and divisional teams focus on different goals determined by the divisions. Along with these professional development times, the Leadership Team encourages department chairs to hold book studies that all staff can be a part of (several of these have occurred in the last several years) and provides new staff with an extensive orientation program beginning in May using the Moodle format, followed by a three-day in-house orientation prior to school beginning in August and followed up with Tuesday morning meetings which extend through November.




4. The current supervision and evaluation process promotes professional growth.

In compliance with Board Policy 2.2.13, the Leadership Team has developed and implemented a supervision and evaluation process for support staff and for teaching staff. All staff are on a 1-year, 2-year, or 3-year evaluation cycle, which includes a self-assessment and a conference between the supervisor and the staff member.

Support staff evaluations are completed using job descriptions, and teaching staff evaluations are completed using a rubric designed by the principals. A supervisor may place a staff member having significant work performance issues on a growth plan designed to help the staff member target specific areas for improvement. Overall, teaching staff and support staff agree that the supervision/evaluation process promotes professional growth (2011 Staff Survey, 66), while 19% of support staff indicate that they don’t know if the supervision/evaluation process supports professional growth. According to the headmaster, the supervision/evaluation process has not been consistently implemented for support staff.




5. CAJ measures the impact of professional development through surveys and anecdotal feedback, and the impact of professional development on measurable student learning is not sufficiently clear.

Survey data indicates that teaching staff agree that CAJ’s professional development results in increased student learning, and in curriculum enhancement and improved learning and teaching (2011 Staff Survey, 68 and 32).

Anecdotal feedback indicates that professional development has resulted in enhanced teaching (which should results in increased student learning). For example, September 23 teacher interviews indicate that training teachers received on Understanding By Design and curriculum mapping has increased in the quality of their teaching and, consequently, positively impacted student learning.

Current survey data and anecdotal feedback do not provide data needed to determine the specific, measurable impact of professional development on student learning.




6. Staff are committed to equipping students to impact the world for Christ.

Staff talk about the mission, target the mission in their jobs, and participate in improvement plans designed to help CAJ carry out its mission. Overall, staff agree that they are committed to equipping students (2011 Staff Survey, 67).




7. CAJ provides member care that addresses the spiritual, social, and professional needs of staff.

Staff devotions take place 4 times each week, and a staff prayer calendar is used to communicate prayer needs. The Social Committee hosts events (including wedding and baby showers), and the school year concludes with the staff/board dinner. The Leadership Team and department chairs provide professional counsel. Overall, staff agree that CAJ provides adequate member care (2011 Staff Survey, 69).




8. CAJ’s transition to the inResonance database is not yet complete.

According to the headmaster, registrar, and human resources manager, this means, for example, that staff using the database are not yet able to get substitute teacher reply confirmations, print contracts, publish reports for student attendance and student health, or publish transcripts without the assistance of the technology coordinator.