Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Lincoln on Educational Leadership

Giving critical feedback to teachers doesn’t have to be a confrontational matter. I recently pulled my copy ofLincoln on Leadership (Donald T. Phillips- click for the book) and recalled this great leader’s ability to change people’s lives.
Abraham Lincoln was a kind and gentle man, but his subordinates always knew where he stood on decisions. Leaders can make decisions and confront people with critical feedback when necessary in a kind and gentle manner. Teachers will you tell you how important it is to have a collaborative and collegial conversation with supervisors when they receive feedback. If you’re going to dole out feedback, you need to be conscious of the feedback recipient’s emotional perception of your relationship. A “broken” relationship may very well shut a teacher down during a post-observation conference, an informal hallway chat, or a formal meeting during which an educational leader wants to provide honest and constructive feedback.
Feedback is one of the most important forms of instruction. It is an educational leader’s responsibility to foster a community of learners (see Roland Barth’s work on this subject) so as to promote inquiry, self-reflection, and the willingness to recognize feedback as a useful form of learning. Being a nurturing, warm, and gentle leader will go a long way in developing this community and eventually in promoting a passion for exploration in our children as well.

This post is part of the "Leadership Lessons From American Presidents" series.

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