Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Leap of Faith - Asking for Candid Faculty and Staff Feedback

     As 2015 draws to an end and I reflect over the past year, I must admit that is has been ONE crazy ride. From being hired as the full-time administrator of my school to all the big and little family events (such as starring in a community theater production of the Wizard of Oz), to becoming a healthier me (lost 62 lbs. over the past year), I have really pushed myself in lots of ways and areas of my life. And I HAVE LOVED IT!
    I was reading some articles and such and found one about being a better administrator, and I ran across one in particular that was titled: "Principals: Are You Brave Enough to Ask Your Staff For Feedback?" written by Jennifer Gonzalez for her blog Cult of Pedagogy. 
     I began to ponder on this idea. I really wondered if this was something that I could personally do, without taking it, well...personally. 
     I am a perfectionist by nature and I tend to take things sue me. I asked a trusted advisor at school and was told "ARE YOU NUTS?" and "Do you really think you can handle hearing what everyone has to say?". That wasn't encouraging and made me feel like this adviser knew stuff being sad about me that I maybe didn't WANT to know!  
     But after lots of thoughtful reflection I knew I needed to hear what my faculty and staff had to say. I mean, how can I be better if I don't know what my staff feels is holding me/us back.
     I went ahead and made a Google form using the questions from the blog post I read, and sent out the email to my faculty and staff- inviting them to share their unfiltered thoughts, but to please be respectful and professional. 
     The number of respondents, assuming everyone responded, would be about 25. Twelve responded, which was awesome- and more than I thought would do it. I assured them that I wasn't as interested in knowing WHO said what, as WHAT they had to say.
     What I got was a GOLD MINE of information. I have chosen to share of the 15 catergories below, just don't judge me...

     Was it hard to see the results? HECK YES! I started to obsess about who I was ignoring or making feel uncomfortable about talking with me. My wife had to talk me off the proverbial ledge by reminding me that I asked for feedback and that now I had a direction to go and good goals to focus on. Thanks babe- it was just what I needed to hear.
     After all those who wanted to respond set forth their judgement (I had a 10 day window to respond), I created a summary in a spreadsheet and hung it on my office door. I then sent out another email (and announced at faculty and at staff meeting) that the results were on my door, that I appreciated their candid feedback- insights- ideas- and support, and I was ready to move forward with new goals for myself.

     Here is what I had on my door:

     As you can see, most areas were in the Green. I set up the spread sheet to color code based on average total. 4-5 was green, 3 was yellow, and 1-2 was red. The areas that came up yellow were a bit surprising to me, and as a result, I have altered the way I do a few things, such as:

     1) I ask for teacher input for frequently on as much as I possibly can. Sometimes there isn't an option of what to do, OR, I need things done a certain way, so input isn't an option, but as much as possible, I ask.

     2) I make a greater effort (and I was already working hard) to be in EVERY room, EVERY day. I try to spend 10-15 in each room every day. I only have 9 classrooms, but that is still a huge challenge.

     3) I go out of my way to praise and share the positives I see in classrooms when I am there.

     Along with numerical ratings, teachers were given the option to answer questions. I was pleased with the time and thought that went in to these written responses- not that all the responses were complimentary by any means.
     I am proud to have a faculty and staff that is upfront and honest. Here are several of the responses. You can click on the picture to have it enlarge big enough to read the comments.

     As the administrator, I too, am supposed to be evaluated by the faculty and staff at the district level. I don't know if I was last year or not, as the interim principal, but I have not seen any results if I was. So, this was truly my first glimpse at seeing how my building employees felt I was doing. And, I hope to do this every year!

So, the moral of this post is simply this:
     I challenge you administrators out there to put yourself out there and ask for feedback. The information you get- the good, the bad, and the downright ugly- will only help you to improve.

Helpful Hint:
    When you get ready to do ask- have your trusted advisor standing by to talk you down if you get crazy and realize you are getting what you asked for- how to do better and what  a rock star you are.

Cheers and Happy New Year! 2016 is going to ROCK!


  1. This is AMAZING! Had I stayed another year, this was on my "to do" list. Thank you for so candidly sharing your growth as an administrator, as well as some of those growing pains! You've had a great year, and I am excited to see what 2016 has in store for you! Also, congrats on the weight loss! That's a great accomplishment to be proud of! Your children get to love their daddy for even more years now due to your improved health.

    Now I'm off to pin this so other administrators can step up and be as brave as you!

    Here's to a fabulous 2016!
    ~Heather aka HoJo!

  2. Thanks Heather! I appreciate your kind words and constant support. I agree that is takes guts to ask faculty and staff. But, it was totally worth it!

    I agree that I am giving my kiddos a few more years of dad to love- and I LOVE being able to do that!
    Have a wonderful new year! WAHOO!

  3. It's been a long time Mr. Hughes. Kaminski here from many a year ago. I trust you're well. You sound busy. In the midst of a resurrection of the blog. Hoping that you'll check it out (after a month or two) as I get it all sorted out and enter 2016 blogging intricacies.

    Still teaching. Still fighting the good fight.


    1. It is SO nice to hear from you once again! I look forward to hearing your thoughts and reconnecting after all these years! WAHOO!



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