In education, we value communication and feedback. We know that growth occurs when we take action on feedback we get. Even so, no one likes unsolicited advice. When discussing what supporting teachers does not look like during a Twitter chat, the comment “unsolicited advice is about the worst support one can offer” led to a lengthy conversation. (more…)
Even as schools have transitioned to online learning, it’s heartening to see that this crisis isn’t keeping school leaders from carrying out what I think is one of the true joys of school administration—classroom walk-throughs and visitations. Over the years, my thinking and approach to classroom walk-throughs have evolved and changed so much to where I consider it one of my best ways to build relationships with teachers and connect with learners. (more…)
I am an unabashed super nerd. While most administrators I know roll their eyes and let out a heavy sigh at the mere mention of administrator meetings or mandated conferences, I actually get excited. I enjoy learning so much that I typically find a pearl of knowledge from the most mundane training. (more…)
Over the past three years, I have had an amazing opportunity to view my school in a different way as the principal to my daughter, Sidney. As you might expect, I think that she is a pretty amazing young lady, and I eagerly anticipated her sixth-grade year at Messalonskee Middle School (MMS). Before she started, Chuck Pullen, the tech education teacher at our school, told me that I would never look at MMS in the same way after she attended. How right he was! I have had hundreds of conversations about school with Sidney, and through those discussions, I have come to see MMS through her lens. (more…)
I still vividly remember my early years as an assistant principal and principal. Instructional leadership was a routine part of the job along with the budget, master schedule, curriculum development, meetings, emails, phone calls, and many other duties. With the evolution of social media, yet another responsibility was added to my plate in the form of digital leadership. The position of school administrator really requires a jack of all trades, master of none. This is why many leaders fail to live up to the most important aspect of the position, which is instructional leadership. (more…)
We lead busy lives as administrators, with items getting added daily to our already busy to-do lists. How do we keep up? Why not use the power of technology to communicate with all stakeholders in an efficient, consistent manner? That is not to say that phone or face-to-face conversation should be replaced, nor should the letter home or the programs that give students a tangible certificate. However, immediate feedback is something that we teach our staff at Governor Livingston High School to employ in their classrooms, so let’s develop ways for school leaders to do the same in our buildings. (more…)
Guest post by Amber Schroering and Jim Snapp
In our post last week, we introduced you to The Brownsburg Way, the approach our district—the Brownsburg Community School Corporation (BCSC) in Central Indiana—uses to deliver consistent and high academic results year after year. We discussed how our narrow teaching and learning focus contributes to our achievement. Of course, curriculum and instructional programing aren’t the only factors. Without our stellar educators, none of our success would be possible. So how do we support our teachers so that they do their very best? (more…)
Guest post by Melissa King-Knowles
When I was a teacher, I started using feedback looping processes to survey my high school students about particular units and methods of assessment. I asked what they liked and didn’t like and sought input on my teaching practice. With their brutal (ahem, I mean beautiful) honesty, students brought me to my knees on a couple of occasions. (more…)
Guest post by Anthony Scannella and Sharon McCarthy:
Which do you think helps individuals and systems flourish during these transformational times: a bit of risk, a bit of failure and a good deal of feedback–or safely doing what has always been done? If you favor risk, failure and feedback, please read on. If you choose safety in complacency, save yourself some time and make a different decision.
We define effective feedback as a tool that supports professional growth in your school or system. But before we talk about what makes feedback effective, it is essential to consider the much celebrated belief that “there is no such thing as failure—only feedback.” In theory, this is supposed to help our egos cope with our mistakes. In reality, most of us secretly hope to be told how amazing our teaching or leading is, and hearing otherwise makes us both uncomfortable and defensive. Keep that very real human tendency in mind when sharing feedback.
Below are 8 suggestions for leaders whose focus is growth, in folks and in systems:
- Ask others how they prefer to receive the feedback. This is the baseline for respect.
- Know that while sharing feedback will help you and your colleagues improve, it will also cause most folks to squirm a bit—that is OK.
- Differentiate feedback based on the rating of the performance. (Please see: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-03-15/the-ideal-praise-to-criticism-ratio.html)
- Provide feedback in a way that caters to the receiver’s value system. People pay attention more to things they find important.
- Follow feedback basics: Feedback should be timely, specific, actionable, and connected to goals and practice.
- Create a structure for feedback—one that consistently communicates how things are going.
- Keep in mind that people generally change their behavior when provided with an environment that encourages change and specific cognitive maps that outline a “plan” in their heads. Therefore, the onus is on the leader/evaluator to ensure that the environment and maps, which Art Costa refers to as “mental rehearsals,” are clearly communicated in a culture of high expectations. (Costa, Arthur & Garmston, R. Cognitive Coaching. Norwood, MA: Christopher-Gordon Publishers, 1994.)
- Remain keenly aware of the fact that the meaning of your communication is the response that it elicits, regardless of your intentions. As many have experienced, the intended message is not always the received message.
How educational leaders model the practice of effective feedback for teachers not only helps teachers in improving their own performance but also provides mental models of effective practices for teachers to use with their own students. Feedback matters in every relationship in the schoolhouse! Synthesizing more than 900 educational meta-analyses, researcher John Hattie has found that effective feedback is among the most powerful influences on how people learn. (John Hattie, Know Thy Impact. Educational Leadership, Feedback for Learning, September 2012, Vol. 70, No. 1.)
Please join us at Ignite’14 to share thoughts and practices regarding this most fundamental of educational practices for positive transformation.
Anthony Scannella (@edufea, firstname.lastname@example.org) and Sharon McCarthy (@ienvision, email@example.com) will present Sustainable Results for Great Schools on Saturday, February 8 at Ignite ’14. For more information visit www.nasspconference.org.