Getting positive feedback is one of the most complex parts of a principal’s job. Although, giving feedback and getting feedback can be a challenge, we need feedback. However, do we want feedback? I personally prefer only positive feedback. Hey, I am being honest. Who really wants to know what they don’t do very well?
The positive feedback I am referring to in this post is not about being told everything is fine. Positive feedback, in this post, means getting any feedback at all.
Principals try to give teachers positive feedback regularly. Raise your hand if you struggle with giving constructive feedback. Regardless, if the feedback is positive or negative, it’s still hard to give negative or positive feedback. Teachers are rule followers by nature. Teachers are also amazing people and work harder than anyone in any profession that I have ever crossed paths with.
Raise your hand if you are principal and this happens to you….. You walk into a classroom, observe for a little bit, leave a note or something (feedback), then you are on to the next classroom. You see the teacher you observed later and hear, “If you only came 5 min earlier.” or “If you only stayed for 5 more min..” Like I mentioned above, teachers naturally want to be recognized for doing a good job. Don’t we all?
In order for principals to get better giving feedback, we need to get feedback from our employees. The challenge you face as a principal is that the feedback we get is, most of the time, based on a limited view of reality. Teachers, parents, students, and Facebook “experts” do not know the whole story. Confidentiality guidelines keep everyone from knowing the whole story in schools.
*Facebook expert – /noun/ – a person who uses Facebook to share their opinion on EVERYTHING regardless of circumstances, others’ feelings, or truth.
How to get employee feedback
1 – Ask for Feedback
Ask for positive feedback face to face. Ask multiple stakeholders. If you can handle the truth face to face ask everyone. Of course, you may not want to ask in a group setting unless you are skilled at conflict resolution. Asking face to face will also depend on the type of feedback you are seeking. If you are genuine and have built positive relationships with your people, you will get quality feedback.
2 – Survey
Whether it’s digital or paper you can get honest positive feedback from employees using a survey. This can be tricky. You can throw out the highest compliment and lowest criticism and find yourself somewhere in the middle. Surveys don’t necessarily have to be anonymous. If a survey is anonymous, ask yourself these questions:
- What’s the purpose of the survey?
- Are there current events in your school or district that would hinder the purpose or results of the survey?
- Will you share the results with your staff?
- Do the questions get to the heart of the feedback that you need?
3 – Read the room
How well can you read social cues and/or body language? Some of the best feedback you will receive is the first change in facial expression or body language after you say or ask something. You can easily get employee feedback in the tone of voice and/or how passionately someone responds to your question. Additionally, the ability to read the room also comes through time building relationships with teachers.
This summer I created a teacher feedback product. This product contains pre-created questions and also blank questions for your own feedback questions. The purpose of this product is to increase the amount of positive feedback I get.
When teachers fill out these cards and turn them in, their name is entered in a drawing for a prize. Prizes are up to you. Hopefully, getting positive feedback is worth a little investment.
I have been the principal in my school for 17 years. We have done regular surveys, paper surveys, digital surveys, and anonymous surveys. For me, asking for feedback face to face is easy. Relationship building is also very important. When you have been with your staff a while and you will be able to read the culture of your building. When you can’t? Someone is going to tell you.
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