In a focus group, highly performing primary heads were encouraged to talk constructively about their work, prompted periodically by open-ended questions. The focus group led to the provisional identification of the thoughts, feelings and behaviours which characterize highly talented head teachers. When star performers recount and share their best moments with their colleagues, it approaches a video replay of their peak performances. The focus group was tape-recorded to explore how these exceptional achievers talked differently and to crystallize their work experience more vividly. The transcript of the focus group provides a basis for a model of excellence.
Associated life themes
The provisional telephone questionnaire developed through this process was refined with a larger group of highly effective heads through further telephone interviews. The model interview, developed after the focus group, was piloted and checked for objectivity, reliability, fairness and validity, by listening with care to the responses of other talented head teachers. All the questions were asked in the same words by telephone often by the same interviewer to confirm the validity of the process as a cost-effective way to enable other head teachers or those aspiring to be head teachers to give a detailed account of themselves and to receive feedback on their talents and associated life themes.
Gallup staff are trained to conduct and interpret the interviews consistently measuring inter-rater agreement in many business contexts. The content analysis process needs to produce accurate scoring to standards of over 90 per cent consistency. This needs people who are personable, disciplined and dedicated. Professionally trained analysts produce written evaluations of interviewees including a personal development report. This process ensures the predictive validity of the scoring system. The relationships between life patterns and subsequent job performance has been researched.
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