Month: March 2017

Providing Feedback throught the ACT Framework

unknownAt #NCE17 this week, I was able to attend a session Improving Leadership Performance – 5 Tips to Maximize Your Leaders’ Potential faciliated by Mark  Reardon, a former administrator and Lead Education Consultant for Quantum Learning.

Mark spent time through the session helping us understand a formula for efficacy which includes consistency, confidence, competence, and effort.  As leaders, we have the greatest impact on our supervisees’ competence. We hire individuals with the knowledge, dispositions, and skills which best meet our organization’s culture. We provide professional learning opportunities. We engage in conversations about our practice. Most importantly, we provide feedback.  There is much research about feedback being “timely, specific, and actionable.” But, Mark shared a specific tool to help us as leaders give meaningful feedback to our colleagues.

My biggest takeaway from the session was the ACT framework for feedback.  When providing feedback, Mark encouraged us to identify the action, include the characteristics, and highlight our target (or goal).

For example…

Action – I noticed you… or You___…

Characteristics – You displayed empathy when… or You thought carefully when…

Target – This helps us further our goal of… or This will help us to …

So, for example, let’s say a principal evaluates a teacher. In the post-conference evaluation form, the principal articulated clear commendations and recommendations based on the narrative of the observation.

As a leader, I could provide specific feedback along the lines of …

“John, I noticed on your evaluation of Ms. Smith, you provided clear recommendations for improving student engagement. You thought critically about her instructional practice and personal philosphy and made targeted recommendations which she can use to grow professionally. Improving instruction and student engagement helps us meet our goal of increasing student achievement.”  Imagine the power this has over “Good job on that evaluation!”

What other strategies do you have for providing specific feedback in order to improve competence of our leaders?


Using Social Media to Tell Your Story – A Panel at #NCE17

screen-shot-2017-03-04-at-10-07-30-amAt #NCE17 this week, I had the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion (Using Social Media to Tell Your Story) for Superintendents and school leaders across the country. Here are a few of the ideas I shared.

Start with the why. Take the time to establish your goals with social media use.  Why do you want to use it? Who will be using it?  What benefits will using social media afford your organization?

Identify and mitigate the barriers. What are your operational challenges? What are your mindset challenges?  Each context will have different challenges; here are a few we navigated.

Create your accounts on the platforms which best serve your constituents. Who is your audience? What tools does your audience already access? Who will have administrative rights to post on your organization’s behalf?  In Salisbury, we use multiple venues, and multiple people have access.  Our Director of Athletics and Activities is our most active poster!    Most of our social media use is through Facebook and Twitter. If families don’t have accounts, they can view our streams on our website –

Ensure you have the appropriate policies.  Consult with your experts and board to create (and/or update) board policies and guidelines (Acceptable Use, Social Media for Students, Social Media for Employees, etc.)  View our policy here.

Build capacity for sharing.  If you are using Twitter, offer workshops for parents, teachers, and leaders so they can learn to use the tool.  Talk about your why and uncover mindsets about social media use. When we had a snow delay a couple of years ago, Randy Ziegenfuss and I conducted an impromptu Twitter workshop for our leaders who reported on time.   Recently, Ross Cooper helped our admin team set up IFTTT accounts so our leaders could share to multiple venues at one time.  Leaders offered a parent workshop on Twitter during a building open house. How can you create opportunities for formal and informal learning for your stakeholders?

Model the Way

As a district leader, I know I need to model the way as a lead learner.   As leaders, we need to help others understand what these ideas look like in practice and why the work is valuable. My goal is to tweet a photo from one of our schools every day.  I also check the district hashtag every day and retweet some of the postings. I co-host a podcast  (TLTalkRadio,org) with my superintendent, Randy Ziegenfuss. As a district, we use a blog ( to promote ideas and current events. How can you model the way in your organization?

Publicize your tools.  We need to ensure our stakeholders know how to access the tools which were selected.  Create a social media card and share it in school offices.  Visit open houses, PTO meetings, etc. to promote the use of social media.

Each panel member shared her ideas, and then there were several questions asked of the panel.  One of those questions was, “What were your lessons learned?”  As I thought about this question, I reflected on one key lesson we learned.  When we first started using Twitter, we used two hashtags (#stsdfalcons and #stsdlearns). Soon, we have teachers and leaders asking why we had a different hashtag for academics and activities.  As a result, we rebranded ourselves with one hashtag – #YourSalisbury!

What lessons have you learned along your journey of telling your district’s story?