As a school administrator, I spend a significant portion of my time observing teachers’ classes and giving feedback to try to help them to improve their practice. I also have to make judgments regarding the direction of our program and what matters most for our student body. It’s a job with a lot of responsibility, and I’ve been really lucky this semester to have had tons of support from the super-hardworking teachers at my school.
In order to better serve the teachers and students of our school, I recently sent out a Google survey to the faculty, asking them to review my performance as program manager over the semester thus far. Personally, I’ve tried to be mindful of my successes and failures the past months since taking this position, but, as our faculty is an important stakeholder in our school community, I feel that it is important that I seek their anonymous guidance and get their opinions on how well or poorly I’ve been doing my job.
To do so, I crafted a brief survey using Google forms and emailed it to the staff, requesting that they fill it in when they had the time. I used the standards put forward by the Ontario government to inform the process, but heavily modified the criteria to fit the specifics of my position and our school. I don’t think that the rubric assessed everything about my practice, but I do feel that it covered some of the main duties I hold that our teaching faculty would be equipped to assess me on based on our work together.
With some trepidation, I entered the email addresses into the form and hit send…
Waiting for the feedback to arrive was really exciting and a bit nerve-wracking. We’ve had a super-interesting semester with many changes and challenges. I was curious to find out how people felt about the leadership they were receiving, and ready to make profound changes to my practice if required.
I was pleased to discover that, for the most part, the teachers who submitted responses were satisfied with my approach to the work that we are doing in our school. The criticisms were measured and constructive, and expressed a genuine desire to improve our school. I learned a lot, and much of what I read matched my personal assessment of my weaknesses and struggles this semester.
The positive feedback I received was very motivating, and I was glad to note that our English-speaking faculty are as proud of our team’s success as I am. And, sometimes, teachers expressed sentiments that were wholly unexpected.
I appreciate how. . . even if he is really busy he makes you feel like he has all the time to truly listen, not just hear. His feedback and support have really changed my own teaching vision and helped reinvigorate my passion for teaching again. His drive to make our school better creates this energy where others want to actively pursue ways to make our classes better.
Damn. If that doesn’t motivate me to continue to show up and try my best everyday next semester, I don’t know what will.
Matthew Boomhower is a mid-career educator with 15 years of classroom teaching and educational leadership experience. He is Head of Innovation & Learning at an international school in Malaysia and is a proud husband and father.