As a school leader who was valued as a teacher for my willingness to always give my students the best I had, to coach and facilitate other extra activities and to give honest feedback to the principals, I was very surprised when I became a leader how hard it was to get honest feedback sometimes from teachers. Often, I experienced teachers not giving any feedback at all or telling me what they thought I wanted to hear.
Critical conversations are essential to a vibrant school community. However, early in my administrative career, I found intellectual discourse surrounding student and adult learning was difficult to facilitate. My greatest success, though, in building an understanding that I would accept and listen too all types of feedback AND demonstrate a willingness to incorporate components of the feedback into my decisions, was in building trust between myself and the other faculty/staff members (see http://drtewright.wordpress.com/2013/09/01/building-trust-savmp/). Building trust in relationships among the school personal will allow for open and critical dialogue between teachers and school leaders that should ultimately impact student learning and the school environment positively. In addition to this, creating multiple ways for people to deliver feedback is instrumental in getting honest feedback about certain issues. From circulating through the school, having an “open door” policy (when actually in the office), providing online and anonymous survey opportunities about progress and professional development, a school leader can also gather the feedback from its “team of honesty.” I believe this is a very important way to move towards improved student achievement and school learning environment.