I had to put it in all caps so that you would understand the urgency behind this post. Do you want to know what your teachers/students/principals really want from you? In a word, it is feedback. Whether positive or otherwise, feedback is key to personal growth and let’s be honest everyone wants to improve. So often, schools derail not because the intent of those involved is in the wrong place but because the people involved do not communicate well with one another.
Here is one of my FAVORITE YouTube videos on the importance of feedback. Please sub out the word student for teacher and/or principal and the application is the same.
People need to know how they are doing. They need opportunities to REFLECT meaningfully on their practice. This goes beyond bi-yearly observations and even quick walk throughs with a note left from you. Think out of the box on this one. Do your teachers work in PLCs? Do they have a common teaching rubric? Do they rate each other after observing one another’s practice? How can you make that happen? What about your students? Do they work collaboratively? Do they give one another rubric based feedback? Do your principals observe one another’s buildings? What does excellence look like where you are? How often do students/teachers/principals have the opportunity to reflect on their performance with someone? What metric are they using? Is it working? How do you know?
Here is another video in case you need examples of what effective feedback would look like.
I know what you are thinking, “Dr. Kia I don’t want anyone to be upset if the feedback isn’t good. I don’t want the union, or parents, or the state board of education called on me if someone disagrees.” My pushback to that would be that you cannot just jump into this endeavor. At the top of this post I said clear and consistent feedback. You have to be very clear with your expectations of teachers/students/principals and most important, you have to be consistent with your feedback. This means if you have regular observations scheduled some may be not so great but they will be balanced by others that are great. When you create an overall culture of trust (by being transparent), feedback (based on clear easily measurable expectations aligned to practice), and high expectations (a clear benchmark for everyone to meet) those calls (usually made out of fear) will become a thing of the past. Remember, to lead is to constantly learn and while others may not tell you the truth, I always will. You need to be clear and consistent with feedback if you are going to grow teachers/students/principals. – Dr. Kia