Every person goes into Education to make a difference. For many, their early years had some growth through learning experiences – both positive and challenging ones too. For some educators, as they continue in their careers their passion and purpose seem to lessen and they lose their way as they become stagnant. For others, they continue to aspire excellence and they seek leadership positions to have greater impact. In both instances, if someone only sees their impact from their point of view then you truly never know how your actions, efforts and attitudes are impacting others. We must see our current reality through others. This blog post takes a look at both WHY it is important to get feedback from others and HOW that has been done to give some possible ways you can incorporate this into your work.
Why important to see your impact from other points of view
- Our roles are not performed in isolation but rather as part of a collective whole. If we want to see how our work helps others, then we must seek input from those we serve.
- When we involve others in our reflection or review of our work, then it serves to provide greater purpose moving forward. We are better together.
- How do you measure your impact if you don’t see how it impacts others? We must look for trends in quantitative data, listen for qualitative viewpoints and determine if you are moving the needle in the right direction. If a leader’s job is truly serving others, then you must look at data from several points of view including whole school, specific levels and individual growth in others.
How to get Feedback from others to see the current reality
In my role as a Principal, to help me see the current reality of my work then I must get feedback from everyone I serve. This includes the students in our school, the staff I work with to support and the parents/guardians I partner with to support their children.
- Feedback from students to see their reality – Within our daily bell schedule, prior to COVID, students had a class period daily that is like a homeroom time that serves different purposes. I worked with our staff and asked if we could use that time, once a month, so myself and our admin team could meet with our students to listen and learn about their points of view. Our staff was excited to provide this chance for myself to visit with our students. We aimed to have around 20 students each month (per grade level) where we could ask 3-4 specific questions to listen/learn about our school vision, academics, SEL and overall school culture. These questions include those below:
- What do you want learning to be like in school?
- What have you enjoyed about this year?
- If you could change 1 thing about this year, what would it be?
- Do you have a trusted adult here at school?
- At the end of the year, how will you know if you had a great year?
- When do you feel the most successful?
This year with COVID we still aimed to get this feedback but had to do it more through Zoom sessions or google forms. We look forward to getting back to where we can have face to face conversations.
2. Feedback from staff to see their reality – I try to do this in 1:1 sessions where I can listen to each staff member and truly listen to concerns or ideas. This also helps each person to feel valued and an important part of our team. If things are too busy, then google forms or small group sessions are used. Here are the types of questions I have asked staff previously:
- What do you love about our school?
- How is this school year and your instruction different than last year?
- If you became principal today, what would be your 1st change and why?
- How can I support you so that you enjoy being at our school and feel fulfilled as an educator?
- In what ways can we utilize your strengths to help others?
- Do I know and build upon the strengths of those I serve
- What is the “clear” vision for learning in our school?
- What are the few purposeful areas that we are focused on?
- How do we share openly and regularly to further our own learning and development?
3. Feedback from families to see their reality – This is harder due to everyone’s schedules, but we have offered Parent Sessions for this feedback but we also incorporate into Parent Teacher Conferences when parents come to the building. In addition, google forms are an efficient way to get feedback too. Here are some of the questions we have used:
- Does your child enjoy coming to school and feel connected?
- Does your child have a trusted adult?
- How does the school provide consistent and clear communication?
- What is our school’s vision when it comes to student learning?
- Do you feel like our school provides families opportunities to be involved and a part of the school community?
- Is the administrative team open to hearing your concerns and working with you on behalf of your child?
Educators must remember that creating positive change must be intentional efforts incorporated in different ways but focuses on the culture within the organization. This culture and learning about impact can only happen if you intentionally listen to those you serve. This provides the groundwork to either reset the work or provide greater focus to the work moving forward. Leaders must continually identify how to see the current reality from those they serve. It is never too late to change or adapt to create something better. We owe that to our students and staff that we serve. I encourage you to reflect and better understand “seeing reality through others” as a leader. Comment below or reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org