Monday, October 3, 2016

What question do you wish your admin would ask you?

Educators are Dreamers
Educators are Believers
Educators are Changers
Educators are Leaders

If you believe all of those, then you understand that at times teachers want to be asked questions that do not have easily to recall questions.  They want to be asked things that may be out of reach, things that may push their thinking, things that "in a perfect world" may actually happen.  Things that they can hold on to as inspiration to move forward.

As a principal I often ask my staff questions and provide feedback that is very specific to their practice.  I often ask them to explain their thinking, which many times probably comes off as challenging their thoughts.  This is always left up to perception, the relationship you have built with them, and how previous interactions have gone.  I also understand that this separates me from them, and the closer I am to them the more it might hurt.

Side Note - I think so many on social media talk about getting feedback, and want you to respond to a blog, grow together, blah blah blah, it is easy when you have no personal connection with someone.  It is totally different getting feedback from "SM person" than from someone that knows the name of your kids, has been to your parents funeral, understands your Starbucks order, knows the name of your sister, and has shared moments of deep thoughts and sorrows.  So for all those SM folks "seeking feedback", is just getting a critique or a suggestion you can easily ignore.  Realize that we are giving deep and personal feedback to our teammates that goes so far beyond what anyone on social media claims to be feedback. just saying... 

That all being said, I have a job to push people, challenge people, and do what is best for "our kids" in as much a non-judgmental environment as I can.  So we have a process, I have written about in previous blogs.  It is multi-tiered, just understand that.  Sometimes small tweaks, sometimes as we are doing now, deep dives with instructional rounds.  

I also know that I can not flip the switch from critical specific feedback person to tell me how you think that went, without a little bit of questioning of my motive or intention.  I understand this, and it is okay, because at the end of the day improvement from all angles is the ultimate goal.  Which in the end will benefit the students.  Then there is the human aspect, the constant feedback cycle wears you down, even the most growth mindset educator you have ever met.  They get worn down from constant questions about why they chose to do this or chose to do that.

What if you from time to time you change the question from; "Why did you choose to do that in your lesson?" to "What do you want me to ask you or wish I asked you about your lesson?"

What if I asked, "What is it that you want me to know about your class set-up?" vs. "Why do you have your class set up this way?"

What if I asked, "What do you want me to derive from this reading data?" vs. "Why do you think there are so many kids that struggle with reading?"

You tell me what to ask you, it is definitely a switch, and certainly can not happen all the time, but does it not sound better and isn't ownership more shared in this approach?


I can tell you flat out that if you ask me what I wanted you to ask me, it would require me to reflect.  It would require me to be honest with myself.  It would require me to give myself feedback at a level that would better prepare me to answer any follow-up questions.

I tend to be honest with my supervisor +Peter Leida and we have a relationship that is strong.  I know I have faults, he knows what they are, I work on them.  He does not judge me, he works with me, we figure them out together.  I am also brutally honest, tell on myself constantly, and because of our situation, I never feel like I am not supported.  I consider myself super lucky in this way.  He knows I have kids, he knows my wife's name and he still pushes me, knowing I may hate him for a few minutes, but his intentions are pure, therefore, I forgive him for his position and who he has to be to make me better.

So make a switch at times... Give honest feedback to those you care about deeply, but also ask them to ask you what they want...


For example:  If I was asked - What is one question I wish my supervisor would ask me? It would unveil immediately what my real beliefs and passions are in education.  It would reveal what I value, what I think about, and what I spend most my energy on.  

If my supervisor just asks me - What is one thing I find important right now? My answer is already tainted by my previous interactions, what I know about their beliefs in education, job security, how they might react, etc.  It is already loaded and tainted, not 100% authentic.  Even with the fact that I feel 100% supported.

I need to do this for my staff.  I need to know what they want me to know about them, about their class, and about their beliefs.  We created a belief poster at the beginning of the year, it is time we revisited that.

It is time they told me what they want me to ask them. 

Obviously we can not live in this "WISH" world forever, nor should we... It is not always reality and our "WISHES" may not actually be in line with what is the highest leverage action steps to help kids. But, until we identify and feel that our "WISHES" have been heard, do you ever get past feeling like you are ever heard?  Can you ever feel like you can commit to what you are passionate about? 

Rub the lantern leaders, grant just one "wish" ask your staff one question that I got via +Peter Leida 

"What question do you wish your admin would ask you?"

This whole train of thought was generated by that one question above.  You never know where a "WISH" will lead you!



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