This week at Principal Matters! has been one question after another. Our focus has been on gathering meaningful perception data while the opportunity exists. You can’t get year-end, summative perceptions until near the end of the year. If you wait too late, however, you’ll have missed the moment and thoughts will fade away about this school year and move on to the summer or other things.
For your consideration, we’ve shared potential questions you could ask your students, their parents, and your teachers. There’s no pride in authorship of these questions; the greatest hope is that you take time to be intentional in your gathering of perception data. You will always be amazed at what you learn when you ask the right questions. What are the right questions? You can answer that one by examining the context of your school and determining what it is that you need to know. There are probably some questions that are universal to most any school site, but the biggest thing to remind you is to get perceptions from students, parents, and teachers while you can. If you wait until the very end of the year, you are probably pushing it. Sometime between now and then is most likely a good spot.
So, if you’re asking questions of everyone else, who’s left for today?
You know who.
“Self-reflection is the school of wisdom.” It’s important that you not only ask others for their perceptions, but that you take time to collect your own. It’s even better if you have a trusted colleague or professional cohort with whom to share your reflections. Best case scenario? You have that group (3-4 principals, maybe?) and you reflect on the same set of questions individually, then get together to share your thoughts. There is great potential or growth in such a process!
Here are some possible questions for you to consider for your own year-end reflection, whether you do it separately, with colleagues, or a little of both.
Twenty Year-End Self-Reflection Questions for Principals and APs
- What do you make of your school’s progress this school year? How did it align with your expectations? Why or why not?
- What about your school’s performance? Was it what you had expected? Why or why not?
- As a whole, how much did your faculty grow professionally this year? To what do you attribute this?
- What do you believe is the perception of your school for the parents of your students? How have you arrived at that conclusion?
- Do your students enjoy going to your school? Is there an advantage for a student to go to your school instead of some other school?
- What is your school good at doing? Are there three things that you can confidently share with the public that your school excels in?
- In what ways did you excel as a leader this year? What did you do well?
- What was your biggest failing as the school’s leader this year? What did that experience teach you?
- What are you struggling with as this year comes to a close? What have you just not figured out at this point?
- What is your area of growth for this summer? What skill or skills do you need to improve? What area do you need to gain more knowledge in?
- How well did you support your assistant principal’s growth this year? Is your AP better today than a year ago? How well have you built capacity for your AP to represent you in sharing the vision, mission and beliefs of the school among the faculty and staff?
- How did you do in building relationships this year? Where did you excel, and where did you flounder?
- How is the climate of your school? What will you do to maintain a positive climate at your school for next year?
- What did you do to deepen the strength of your school’s vision/mission/beliefs during this school year? How successful were you in that work?
- What did you get right and what did you get wrong in terms of time management this year?
- On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 is low; 10 is high) how well did you achieve an appropriate work/life balance this year? What will your plan be for next year? How will you remain consistent in that work?
- As the school’s leader, what did you accomplish this year of which you’re the most proud?
- How strong are your relationships with Central Office? What can you plan for next year to strengthen those connections?
- How well did you connect with other colleagues from other schools and systems? What will you do moving forward to make this a priority?
- Are you enjoying being a principal?