Part of our job as principals is doing classroom evaluations and providing the appropriate feedback after walkthroughs and formal observations. In essence we are truth tellers we hold up a mirror of their practice, helping them to improve. With the amount of time we spend in the classroom, in meetings and dealing with discipline and managerial issues finding time to work on our own practice and seeking the truth about it is often put on the back burner. At the end of a school year we may provide anonymous surveys for the staff to fill out so we can get a snapshot of what they think about our performance, but those usually only happen once a year. These three tips will help you get truthful and helpful feedback on a regular basis.
When asking your staff for their observations focus on a specific domain in which you want to improve. Asking, “how can I improve staff meetings?” is more likely to get an answer with which you can work then asking a more general question like “How am I doin'?”. In addition giving them multiple ways to provide you that feedback either immediately, through email or a suggestion box will help get the answers you need to grow. Finally schedule regular times on your calendar to illicit this specific feedback. This will help you get the course corrections you need in a timely manner.
Using the example above about improving staff meetings; provide the reason why you’re eliciting the feedback. Tell them that you’ve noticed that the staff meetings are not as effective as you’d like them to be. People respect those who are willing to name the things that aren’t working well. In addition to them providing you ways to improve, you are also creating a means to get greater buy in once the problem is solved.
Once you’ve gotten the specific feedback you might find that your ego is a bit bruised. Resist the urge to defend your process or explain the reasons why you’ve done something a particular way. Control your body language and make sure to say thank you. You don’t want to scare your staff and have them think that you’re just going through the motions. Keeping your posture and your facial expression open and pleasant as well being appreciative of the feedback will ensure that you continue to hear what you need to.
These three strategies: being specific, providing context and being grateful will help you continuously improve your performance as a principal. A bonus tip which will almost guarantee further helpful critiques is to take action and follow through.
In what ways do you get formal or informal feedback on your job performance? Share your advice in the comment section below. For more tips and helpful articles check out my blog and podcasts at theprincipalentrepreneur.com.
I'm a Principal and an Entrepreneur. I'm the former owner of a food venture Hustling Hoagies, the author of the children's picture books Detective Dwayne Drake and the Alphabet Thief, Detective Dwayne Drake and The Case of the Mathematical Misfit and the ebook Making it as a Male Model in Michigan. I've worked professionally as a model and commercial actor......