I overheard a conversation yesterday that really has me reflecting. (Caveat, I wasn’t really eavesdropping, our beach chairs were placed so close to one another that privacy was at a minimum!) A small group of ladies were talking about teaching and the school year that just ended. One lady shared that she was quite upset at how many times her new principal came in to observe her this past year. She further stated that he left her “areas for improvement” and wondered how could she possibly need improvement when she has been teaching for over thirty years. I fully acknowledge that I know nothing about these ladies or their teaching abilities, and that beach time is meant for friends, relaxing and “venting”, but it provided me with genuine reflection time.
Feedback is crucial to our growth as educators. In order to improve for our students we must not only be reflective in our practices, but listen to what others have to say. It is important to invite others in (not just for formal observations or performance reviews) but on a regular basis to get a second perspective on what is happening in our classrooms and schools.
As educators we must be open to listen to all types of feedback, positive and constructive. Education changes so quickly and fresh ideas and different ways of thinking only enhances what we are doing. I love the idea of the “observe me” signs outside a teacher's door with the QR code. The teacher gets feedback from anyone that comes into the classroom. Feedback isn’t just for teachers either, leaders can also ask colleagues or someone in their PLN for suggestions.
It is equally important to seek out quality feedback if you feel you aren’t getting enough. Feedback needs to be timely and specific. Ask questions, ask for support and resources. It is important for us to seek out what we need for growth. Observations and visuals are one of the best ways for this.
Equally, don't be afraid to offer feedback. I think as educators we aren't willing to share with others, perhaps thinking we will hurt feelings or come off as egotistical. We can't think that way as we all have areas that we are stronger in than others. Share your strengths and suggestions to others. Provide professional development in areas where you see weaknesses. We need to keep in mind that we are bettering education for students, not ourselves!
From feedback we have the opportunity to reflect, research, take risks, and experiment. Growth is inevitable. Take everything in. See feedback not as a requirement or criticism, but as an opportunity!