As has been our theme all week long, we look again at questions, and in this column, questions for… the teachers.
Yes, teachers get surveyed a lot. You may prefer to gather this data in small groups, in meetings, or in a format that leads to more openness and deeper reflection.
In concluding the school year, it’s incumbent on you as a school leader to measure the growth and progress your school has made. An important part of that measure is in debriefing your teachers. You can do so as a part of their summative conference if you like. The important thing is that you don’t let an opportunity to learn more about this school year pass by you. The more questions you ask, the more you know about your school and your people, and the better you’ll serve them as their leader.
Below are twenty questions that you can ask your teachers before they break for the summer. Maybe you’ll ask some of them; maybe all of them, and maybe none of them. The important part of this examination is that you focus on the right questions for your teachers and for your school within the current context. To get you thinking about what to ask your teachers, here is a sample set of twenty questions. Enjoy.
Twenty Questions To Ask Your Teachers at the End of the Year
- What did you do most effectively this year in your classroom?
- How well did your students learn this year?
- What was an innovative strategy that you employed successfully this year?
- What was your biggest failure this year? What did you learn from it?
- Describe the level of relationships that you had with your students this year. Were your relationships with your students better this year than in other years? Why or why not?
- Think of a student who you were never really able to reach the way you’d hoped. What did you learn from your efforts?
- What did you learn about teaching this year?
- Based on your reflection about your work this year, what do you plan to focus your professional development on this summer?
- If you had ten minutes to talk about something you do well as a teacher, what would you talk about? (focusing on one thing)
- Were you a good team member this year? What did you do to help your colleagues be more effective as teachers?
- If someone was charting your career as a teacher day-by-day from your first day/first year to now, what would the curve look like?
- Teaching is challenging and often stressful. How well did you handle the stress this year? What do you find effective in coping with your work stress?
- What was your best year ever as a teacher? Where did this year rank among your years of teaching?
- Who helped you in your work this year? Who did you help in their work?
- What do you need from others who work at the school in order to be a more effective teacher?
- What do you think about the children who go to our school? Are they all able to learn?
- What was your best experience partnering with a parent this year?
- What skill do you need to learn to do more effectively?
- Why do you teach?
- What is your number one highlight of this school year?
As always, there are many more questions that you could ask and many that can be appropriate within the context of your school. Work hard to ask the right questions that help you gather the data you need to make good decisions about individuals, groups, and the school as a whole. The leader who fails to listen better be a really good guesser! It’s much easier and more effective to become a good listener instead. It takes good questions, a commitment to take time to ask them, and an ear that listens to understand rather then to reply.
Before your teachers break for summer (and before anyone mentally checks out) invest your time into conversations with your teachers. You can learn so much from listening!