Ep15 – Constructive, Not Critical: Featuring Jessica Cabeen

Episode Highlights

It’s critical right now to be intentional in planning for this year since last year was so unstable and unpredictable. Many of our plans went by the wayside, so now is a great opportunity to think ahead at your plan for getting back to normal or address new ways of conducing business. One of the ways you can help improve things going forward is to remember one of the most important and basic functions of the administrator role: use an effective and efficient walkthrough form and process to give constructive feedback to your teachers. 

Consider using comprehensive leadership team to create your walkthrough form together. This helps cultivate other leaders and built leadership capacity. Making a form is a great opportunity to focus on major aims to reinforce, reteach, or recognize practices that go along with the team’s goals.

Topics Include:

  • Ways to give constructive feedback
  • Ways to plan for tough conversations
  • Learning from student behavior
  • Grace with yourself

Where to Listen

Listen to this episode using the above embedded Spotify app or using any of your favorite podcast platforms including:

About Jessica Cabeen

Jessica Cabeen is an author, speaker, and award-winning principal. Jessica Cabeen is sought after for speaking around unconventional leadership, innovative learning environments for students, self-care for educators and early learning. As a regular contributor to outlets such as Edutopia and SavED by Grace, Jessica continues to find ways to build relevancy into real life topics and current concerns for those seeking to lead well….and live a life.  Due to her diverse leadership experiences, Jessica is able to draw on stories and examples that span PreK-12th grade. She utilizes research-based strategies, puts them into practice, and share them with stakeholders in an easy to use format. Educators enjoy the authentic style of leadership she shares in her sessions. Her humor and examples of what to do (and what not to do) resonate with educators across the globe.

Twitter: @JessicaCabeen 
Website: jessicacabeen.com

4 Ways to Give Effective Constructive Feedback

Build consistency and visibility by creating routines that get you in rooms. Make sure to visit all areas and departments to people don’t feel unintentionally undervalued.

  1. Align your school’s instructional goals for the year with what measurements you use to monitor them, and you must not forget your walkthrough form as another tool for this measurement. What are your goals? Do others know what they are? Are they incorporated into what you do, what you monitor, and what you give feedback on?
  2. Celebrate successes that you observe that align to your school goals. Share these best practices and great strategies to others in the school on a regular basis. This can create a more positive school culture that acknowledges growth, learning, and hard work.
  3. Be timely in your feedback to teachers. As leaders we can help reduce teacher anxiety and stress that they may be feeling from an administrator visit. Try to give feedback to them as soon as possible. Consider the coaching mindset to give more continuous feedback. Help make it more natural and relaxed through ongoing positive and meaningful suggestions.
  4. Don’t avoid your best teachers when doing observations and giving feedback. All teachers deserve these coaching opportunities. New principals and assistant principals, go visit the master teachers and learn from them. Learn what they do, how they do it, and the nuance behind why their teaching is so impactful.

7 Ways to Plan for Tough Conversations

It’s not easy for either the administrator or the teacher when tough conversations need to occur. It’s emotionally challenging for all involved. Many times, school leaders avoid these tough conversations because of this, but this never helps and only makes things even more challenging down the road. We can’t go in without a plan. Check out these 7 ways that we can think ahead and be better prepared.

  1. Plan ahead for tough conversations. Consider your intentions and hopeful outcomes.
  2. Script out talking points ahead of time and practice reading through them to see how they sound.
  3. Be specific, fact-based, and unemotional with your suggestions or observation notes. Be careful with anything that might sound subjective or judgmental.
  4. Ask for feedback by role playing with other administrators. This is a great way for them to learn and reflect on their upcoming meetings, too.
  5. After the meeting, make sure to circle back around to them soon in an informal and casual manner. It’s our job to help reduce grudges or awkward feelings that may linger after these meetings. It’s very helpful for our world too, since it can also make us feel better. Win-win.
  6. Before you give your feedback, consider asking them to share their thoughts on what could be improved. So many times, they are spot on with their reflections. This can take the pressure off you when delivering the ‘bad news’ to them.

Student Behavior is Feedback on Teacher Performance

Student behavior in the class and the overall feeling of the learning environment are feedback on how the class is doing and the teachers’ skills. This doesn’t mean we should blame teachers. We can’t get caught in that trap. No shame, no blame….but it is our jog to ensure we are all responsible for improving the situation. That means we should acknowledge where things are and what needs to improve. In some cases, that’s a reality check for many people once they have to look more in the mirror on their own performance.

No Guilt, but Grace

Don’t be too tough on yourself if you have a plan to get all these observations done, get in rooms and be actively involved, but the other responsibilities come up that get in the way. It happens. Expect it. Give yourself grace and understanding.

More regular feedback reduces the pressure on each piece of feedback we give. Getting in to rooms more often helps form relationships as well. Consider the continuum of observations and feedback. Not everything has to be a written-out formal process.

Share what you think about this episode or article on social media with Andy @_AndyJacks. Follow #DiscipelinWin for more posts and updates. 

Learn more about how to help yourself and your students be more disciplined! Buy Discipline Win: Strategies to improve behavior, increase ownership, and give every student a chance now on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.