How do you know if you’re doing a good job? #thefirstyear

I’ve said before that there is no manual that comes with a leadership role. How very much easier it would be in life if every time you had a question or were presented with a situation, you could simply turn to the relevant page and see how it should be addressed. But we all know that is not true in life, and it’s definitely not true in leadership.

Recently I’ve found myself wondering how do I know if I am doing this whole principal thing right? What are the measurements in being “successful”?  Is it everyone being happy? Is it knowing all that there is to know? (gulp.) Is it happy kids? Is it happy teachers? HOW DO YOU KNOW?

The answer is…..

impossible to measure?


based on assessments? (but which ones? State? Local? Common, formative? Rabbit trail, that one is…)


definitely not easy.

In speaking to those infinitely more wise than me, I think that you just do the every best that you can and know that you are always growing.  Keep yourself surrounded by people that you can have heartfelt, genuine, reflective conversations with, on a regular basis. From your staff to your parents to district leadership…be open in discussing how they are feeling and how they feel the overarching principles that you want to lead by are being received.  Are you fair? Are you consistent? Are you doing things for the right reasons?  Have there been any misunderstandings? Is what you are saying what they are hearing? The answer to that may surprise you…but the only way to KNOW is to ASK. #lessonslearned

I’d be interested in hearing from you…what are the markers of you feeling as if you’ve done a good job? How do you know? This question has kept me awake at night lately, and would love to know what you think! And while you’re thinking about it, this post has now gotten THIS SONG stuck in my head. You’re welcome!


survey seeking,



  1. Jim Reif said:

    Great article with the practical nugget of gold to surround yourself with practical, honest, thoughtful, people that will give you honest feedback. Two months after I started my current associate principal position I was able to visit my mentor, and the conversation we had about what I thought I knew and what I learned in two months was amazing. All you can do is get that feed back and get better every day. Thank you for sharing!
    Jim Reif
    Baraboo HS
    PS. I didn’t play the video so it wouldn’t get stuck in my head.

    March 16, 2016
  2. Coral Wilkens said:

    I actually had and still have a questionnaire that I have all of my people fill out yearly. I had a professor and Texas A& M, Dr. McDonald who shared this with us. Her advice, “when you read the comments sit down with a glass of wine” LOL. But honestly- the questionnaire is anonymous

    I am happy to share a copy with anyone who would like it. I am just uncertain as to how to share it via this blog post 🙂

    March 16, 2016
    • Cjristine said:

      I’d love a copy. I have my staff do an anonymous Google forms survey on me every year. Very revealing.

      March 20, 2016
    • Glenn Olson said:

      I would also like to see your survey.

      March 20, 2016
    • Lindsey said:


      I’d love to see this questionnaire. Can you email it to me?


      March 21, 2016
    • Lindsey said:


      I would love to see your questionnaire. Can you email it to me?

      Lindsey Folk

      March 21, 2016
    • Coral, there are several people asking to see your survey…is this something you could email me? Thanks! 🙂
      amberteaman at gmail dot come, 🙂

      March 21, 2016
    • Yvette said:

      Please email me survey.

      March 23, 2016
  3. Wendy Cora said:

    Personally, I’ve made it my mission to surround myself with people who I feel comfortable asking questions of – both inside and outside my school. Above my desk I have a poster with Hattie’s 5 Traits of an Effective Leader – Believes that teachers matter, Always strives for success, Listens to students’ and teachers’ voices, Sees errors as opportunities to improve, and Uses feedback to improve teaching. Each evening, I reflect on these – if I can walk out the door feeling as though I’ve attended to 4 or 5 – I feel pretty good! Do I constantly feel that push to learn more, know more, do more? Absolutely – but … at the end of the day as long as I walk out feeling that I did the best I could that day – I’m alright!

    Coral – would LOVE that questionnaire! Thanks for offering.

    March 16, 2016
  4. Jay Willis said:

    That song takes me back to memories from the skating rink in junior high. Never did learn to skate backwards very well. Thanks for getting that song stuck in my head. 🙂

    Amber, I love the message (at least my take-away) from this post: if you are soliciting and LISTENING to feedback, learning from others and from your own mistakes, and then constantly APPLYING what you’ve learned, you can hold your head up high and sleep well at night with the knowledge you are doing your best. The challenge now (at least for me) is to refocus the energy spent in thoughts of self-doubt into action toward becoming better.

    Thanks, Amber!


    April 14, 2016

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