Sunday, November 30, 2014

Feedback and Communication: 2 Top Things, Part 2

In my last post, I came to the brilliant conclusion that Feedback and Communication are the Top 2 Things that Teachers want from the Principal. Nothing really new here. In fact, if you've been reading education blogs during the last five years, you will see these two themes, or variations thereof, come up nearly every day. In any case, I promised in my last post that I would follow up with a post that describes some of the ways that I communicate and provide feedback. So here it goes.

But first, a stipulation...
I hereby stipulate that I have lots of room for improvement both in how (and how much) I communicate and in the frequency and quality of feedback I give. However, I think that I can honestly say that have made some progress on this front.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled blog post...
I have been working on improving and increasing feedback and communication for a while in a few ways. As you read through my list of ways I communicate or provide feedback, you will undoubtedly notice that many of the specifics items could easily fit in the other category. You will just have to accept that categorizing is a wildly imperfect act.


  1. Goal setting/Summative
    1. Goals with every professional staff in the fall; every support staff in the winter. Every year.
  2. Formal Evaluation/Observation
  3. Walkthroughs/Mini-observation
    1. I visit classrooms on a regular basis. Even at this small school, it is quite tough to get to each teacher to ask and share about what I saw. Instead, I email: What I noticed... Students were... A question to consider...
    2. Through November, I've completed 97 documented mini visits
  4. Weekly Teacher Meetings/[insert something here to have a slash like in the previous three items]
    1. Every full-time teacher, every week. Sometimes we talk about questions front the walkthroughs, sometimes we talk about specific students, sometimes we talk about fluency progress monitoring data, and sometimes we talk about our pilot of implementing the EngageNY math units. Oh, we also sometimes just talk about life and parenting.

  1. Monday Memo. I send out a simple email, usually on Sunday evening. I send very few other announcement-like emails. The staff learned quickly that the Monday Memo is their one stop shop.
    1. Great Things I Noticed Last Week
    2. New Items
    3. Reminders
    4. EST (an update about the most recent Education Support Team Meeting)
    5. Events This Week
    6. Tech Tips
    7. Our Values
  2. Auto-forward school Facebook postings to the staff email group
    1. I want to make sure that staff see what parents do.
  3. See Nos. 3 and 4 under Feedback above
  4. Attend weekly team meeting for each team in the building.
  5. Hang around the office and staff lounge and just chat.
  6. Keep my door open most of the time.
  7. Walk the halls, lots. Especially after school.
I suspect that when I am an old, grizzled, soon-to-retire principal, I will still be working on communicating more often and more clearly (hopefully my dentures won't come undone every time I try to communicate). Even at that advanced age, I will still be perfecting ways to give helpful feedback to teachers.

Please add a comment with ways that you give feedback or improve communication.

Cross posted to Connected Principals.