The school year is quickly winding down and already I am looking forward to next year. Each school year brings with it a chance to build on past successes and an opportunity to address areas that need improving. If we do not take the time to look back and reflect on the year, how can we know what areas of our job need to be improved? This year my blog has been a way to continually reflect on what is currently happening in my professional life. It has been a way to stop and organize my thoughts and a means to reflect on the impact of my decisions. While this has been an effective means of self-reflection, it has not been an avenue for feedback, constructive criticism, or suggestions for how I can improve myself as a leader.
To accomplish this I recently sent my staff a quick survey I created using Survey Monkey. In this survey I asked three questions:
1. Thinking about the year, what have we done as an administrative team that has been effective?
2. Thinking about the year, what areas do we, as school administrators, need to work on?
3. What can we do to improve the learning program at our school?
The survey was set up in such a way that I would have absolutely no idea who the responses were from. I felt this was extremely important so the teachers could speak as freely as possible.
A person always likes to receive positive feedback. To receive affirmation from ones' colleagues is important and can be a catalyst to help one work even harder. When one of my supervisors gives me a "pat on the back" for a job well done I want to continue working to build on this. It can become infectious and can be an excellent motivator. On the flip-side, the risk a person takes when conducting a survey like this is the responses to question number 2. So far some staff members have responded and the words, while blunt and in some cases hard to read, need to be heard. Creating a platform for constructive criticism gave the teachers an opportunity to say what they are really feeling, now it is my job to read these comments and begin thinking about how I can take this feedback and improve what I do. As I said, positive feedback, for me, is an amazing motivator. That being said, in the past I know negative feedback has caused me to become more guarded and stopped me from taking risks. I need to be very aware as I read the comments from my staff that I do not dwell on the negatives, but rather I need to look at them as opportunities for growth.
Have you asked your co-workers for feedback like this? How do you handle constructive criticism?
As always, comments are welcome.