- Principals give themselves high marks in areas such as communicating a clear vision for their school and setting high standards for teaching, but teachers are a bit more reserved in their ratings, according to new results from the RAND Corporation’s American Educator Panel (AEP).
- Almost 100% of school leaders responding to the survey agreed that they set clear expectations about meeting instructional goals, while 77% of teachers responding felt this way about their principals.
- While teachers still have positive views of principals, the authors recommend that principals adopt “360-degree reviews,” such as the Vanderbilt Assessment of Leadership in Education, to “guide reflective organizational improvement.”
It’s unlikely that school leaders and classroom teachers will ever view instructional topics, working conditions or other issues in the same ways. Similar data released by the AEP last fall showed far more principals than teachers think teachers are involved in decisions affecting their schools. There was also a gap between administrators’ and educators’ views on whether teachers feel comfortable voicing their concerns.
In some ways, it’s O.K. that teachers and principals don’t see things the same way. Different perspectives on what’s happening throughout a school and how various initiatives and practices actually work in the classroom are valuable for school leaders. “Often, new school leaders don't fully understand the multiple dimensions of what's happening and the history of how the school has addressed similar situations before,” Cathy Toll, a consultant and a former principal, wrote in a 2017 post for the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. “It's wiser to listen and learn first. When leaders tune in to others, they understand challenges more completely, and as a result they'll be more likely to come up with productive solutions — or even better, to solicit further involvement by others.”
While Google forms and online surveys are common ways for administrators to gather faculty feedback, other methods include starting off meetings by asking teachers to write down one thing that went right that day or adding open-ended questions to surveys. If school leaders and school climate are big parts of why teachers stay at their schools — or not — then it’s important for principals to consider if the messages they think they are sending to staff members are being understood the same way.