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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.