Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Feedback: What doesn't kill you makes you stronger!

It's like that.

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. And bears, well, they could kill you. Asking for feedback? Whether it's me asking for feedback from my teachers about my leadership, or teachers asking for feedback about their classrooms, it is truly an act of bravery to put yourself out there and ask for input.

It's scary!

I've been so inspired by Brene Brown's book Daring Greatly - about putting ourselves out there and being vulnerable, and the Teddy Roosevelt quote the book is named after.

This is my second year asking for feedback from my teachers about my leadership style, and our second year asking for school-wide and classroom feedback. (I blogged about it here.) I've been inspired by others, like Eric Saibel, who bravely ask for feedback, and follow up with honest, public reflection, regardless of the thoughts shared.

The topic of today's monthly staff meeting was feedback- I had asked for school-wide and leadership feedback in the last few weeks, and shared some of the results. We also read Eric Saibel's two blog posts (Hold My Hand Through The Scary Parts and Life In A Glass House ) to start the meeting, discussing a quote in small groups.

For fun, we also watched a throwback video that followed our feedback theme! Are you old enough to remember this song? Some of us sang along!

Here's the quote I loved from Eric's post:

And these from Bill Gates:

For me, it was really important to model the process for asking for and reflecting on feedback, even though it's terrifying in many ways. But there is also a lot to celebrate!

Here are a few responses from my leadership and school-wide family feedback forms:

A mixed review
Hot and cold. All valuable.

After sharing my results, our teachers got to work creating their forms to send out, and shared the response form with me. So brave! One grade level even sent theirs as a team! Here are their questions- and they also had the opportunity to add their own.

The results are starting to come in. Scary. Exciting. And some unexpected responses. After sending out the feedback survey, one teacher received this email from a family:

"I've been meaning to send you some positive feedback. [Our child] has really had a transformation this year after moving to Star Academy and I think you are the reason! [She] has always been an [unmotivated] student, I think because she has been bored. Her previous teachers were focused on getting everyone on the same level and passing the standardized tests. There was only one year that [she] did not have a long term sub (including this year before moving to Star), which hasn't helped.

I think it is difficult to be able to teach to each student's ability (I know I certainly could not do it), but it seems you really have a knack for it. On [her] first day of school you had mentioned that everyone learns differently and recognizing that puts you leaps and bounds over many of the educators that my girls have had over the years.

One of the big transformations for [our child]: she likes to read now! Introducing her to the Harry Potter series has her in her room with the door shut actually enjoying to read. This has been huge because getting her to read before now has been a struggle.

And thanks so much for including [her] on the math team. She really, really wanted to make the team and is super excited about 'more math homework.'

After [her] first day, she missed her friends and mentioned that moving to Star may have been a mistake. I asked her a few weeks later if she had any regrets moving. The response, "My only regret is not moving sooner!"

THANK YOU for being such a great influence on [her] We will always remember you as the teacher that was able to change [our child] from being [unmotivated] to interested in school!"

Amazing things can happen if we are willing to step into the arena.
Why not start with asking for feedback?