As a young administrator, it can be hard to gain the trust of your peers. Many educators look to take advice from administrators who have worked for ten-plus years, so I had to figure out how I can gain the trust of my peers, motivate and influence them to implement systems and uphold policies I developed for our students. One of my mentors introduced me to a book by Dale Carnegie called, How to Win Friends and Influence People. In one particular passage, he states,
"Success in dealing with people depends on a sympathetic grasp of the other person’s viewpoint."
This quote resonated with me because I had to figure out how to get a true grasp of how my teachers, ancillary staff, office staff, and any other employee experienced their job. For this reason, I decided to implement two different feedback methods for my staff to ensure that I was gaining their perspective and hearing their concerns. It is common knowledge that feedback in education is a very sensitive subject for most educators, so I like to use two different systems that can help with gaining perspective from your staff that is comfortable with giving verbal feedback and your staff that is comfortable with giving written feedback. Establishing a culture of feedback on your campus amongst stakeholders should always be a focus for campus leaders, as this will allow everyone to grow and adopt a mindset of continuous improvement. I utilized quarterly teacher check-ins and monthly 2x2 staff feedback surveys. Each of these mechanisms gave me the opportunity to receive valuable feedback and to make changes to my practices to ensure that I was supporting my colleagues in the best possible way. In this blog, I will describe each system along with the pros and cons of each one of them.
Quarterly Teacher Check-In
The quarterly teacher check-in is a one-on-one thirty-minute meeting with the teacher and the administrator. To ensure that you are optimizing your time, develop an agenda that allows you to seek targeted information and feedback from your teachers. As the administrator, you determine where you want the focus to be for the conversation. For example, if you want feedback around the morning entry plan, then the focus of your questions will be around seeking feedback on the morning entry plan. Below, you will find a sample agenda for the meeting:
Meeting Date:In this section, you will put the date of the meeting just for tracking purposes.Targeted Data PointIn this section, you will put the campus goal attached to the area you are seeking feedback on. For example, At ABC Charter, we want 80% to finish breakfast by 7:45am, in order to start the 1st period on time.Meeting PurposeIn this section, you will state the WHY for the meeting. For example, At ABC Charter, we value the input of all stakeholders and as we look to continuously improve, I would like to gain your feedback on how we can improve our morning entry procedure so that we can meet our goal.Meeting ObjectivesIn this section, you will list what you look to accomplish by the end of the meeting.Check-In or Ice BreakerIn this section, I like to start off with the general check-in or a quick icebreaker before we jump into the targeted questions. Targeted Question 1This section is where you want to ask a specific question about the meeting topic. For example, What areas of the morning entry are going well?Targeted Question 2It is in this section that you want to ask a specific question about the meeting topic. For example, Where do you see gaps in our morning procedure that are stopping us from getting 1st period started on time?
This teacher check-in affords you to have an authentic and more genuine one-on-one conversation. These conversations will help teachers feel heard and more open to sharing their concerns. The advantage for the administrators is that it allows you to see your school from a different perspective and allows you to build trust, by taking action on what you are hearing from your teachers. The key is for administrators to TAKE ACTION on what they are hearing.
Semester 2x2 Feedback Survey
The Semester 2x2 Feedback Survey is a survey that can be sent via Google Forms, Survey Monkey, or Microsoft Forms. The purpose of this survey is to allow your staff to give you a quick pulse update on your leadership. I typically would give my staff a week to complete the survey and myself two weeks to review the data. Upon the data review, I would choose one or two leadership changes and then communicate with staff via email or staff meeting the adjustments to my leadership style based on the survey.
Depending on the level of trust on your campus, this may be the preferred method of feedback for a campus with a low level of trust. This is because the survey is anonymous and the staff may be more comfortable with offering feedback with this method.
The administrator should spend some time previewing the survey via email or a quick staff meeting. In this purview, you should state the purpose of the survey, when the survey is due, and the next steps after receiving the data from the survey. Below, you will find the two questions I asked during previous surveys I have issued:
What are two things that are going well with my leadership?
What are two things that need to be changed with my leadership?
These are the same set of questions I would use in all of my 2x2 feedback surveys to ensure that I was consistent in measuring my capacity and capabilities as a leader.
Utilizing these methods allowed me to develop trust, a foundation for developing strong stakeholder relationships, and a school culture that was rooted in feedback. Gaining the perspective of my staff helped me improve my practices as a leader and ultimately resulted in our students and parents having exceptional educational experiences.
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