I don’t attach disclaimers to my writing. I never feel badly about what I have to say, but this disclaimer is different. It’s for you, the reader, not for me. It’s a simple promise that the content to follow is not an empty string of self satisfying complaints, but rather it is a genuine concern for teachers, especially young and non-tenured teachers, and for the field of education itself.
There is a big problem in education today, and that is the “Gotcha!” mentality that is so keenly masked by the “we are here to help you grow” tagline. Why does this happen? Why isn’t there a growth mindset? Why must “bad” observation scores mean penalization or retaliation as opposed to identifying weaknesses or challenges accompanied with genuine feedback that will help the teacher improve?
So many young teachers, and even veteran teachers, who are talented, smart, and effective are leaving the profession because their bosses are not offering them feedback that genuinely helps them grow and without that facilitation of growth, teachers stagnate, become frustrated, and find other careers in which they can put their talents to good use. Now, there are other reasons for the lack of teacher retention, but I have seen and lived this scenario before so it’s the one in which I have the most practice.
I am my harshest critic, so after every lesson I teach I reflect upon it and determine how to improve it; I don’t need a supervisor for that, but I appreciate the feedback from another party because it offers me the ability to learn and grow–when it is not contrived so that an administrator can make themselves seem important in order to keep their job. Please understand, I am not an administrator-basher–I would like to be one some day–but I have a problem with any person who will hurt others’ careers in order to make themselves look good.
So, let’s stop trying to find what’s wrong with students’ work, or teachers’ lessons, and let’s take the challenges and mistakes we see and make them learning experiences so our students, teachers, and all educational professionals can grow from them. Here’s why a growth mindset will make you a better supervisor, administrator, and even a better teacher:
1. Your genuine desire to help will be clear and others will value your feedback.
When you want to help others improve and you make this idea clear to them, the people you work with–whether they are students, teachers, or other administrators–place deep value in the feedback that you give them. Your authenticity is transparent and that makes your opinion instantly worthy of their respect.
2. You appreciate others’ feedback because you subscribe to the idea that growth comes from listening to others.
You become more effective when you allow others to help you grow, which in turn, allows you to help others. It’s really a fantastic cycle! The more you learn from others, the more you can teach others. Plus, when your students, colleagues, and even your subordinates know that you welcome criticism, they are more likely to listen to what you have to say and what you have to say is more likely to be effective and valuable.
3. Others trust you.
When you support other people you create trusting relationships. When people trust you they want your feedback. And when others trust you, they are willing to help you grow, too.
So, adopt a growth mindset, and stop giving senseless feedback to others just to prove you know something or to keep your job. The fate of education and the future professionals depend upon it.