Bad Feeling

We can tell a lot about a movie based on its use of banal, tired catchphrases. For some of us, we can even mouth the words as they are about to be said. They’ve become so hollow, so stale that they serve as a punchline, rather than a tagline.


I’m too old for this sh!t. (Buddy cop film)

What are you doing here? (romantic dramedy)

We can do this the easy way or the hard way. (Crime thriller)

Is that all you’ve got? (Big budget summer film probably starring Will Smith)

I mean it’s like the screenwriter isn’t even trying. 

Think, then, about your leadership catchphrases. What might you say with the same ease as mindlessness when working with your teachers. How might your observation feedback read like a script written by a first year NYU film student? Ask yourself if you could copy and paste feedback from one teacher to the next. 

Like this.

The teacher planned her lesson well. (Domain 1)

The teacher has good rapport with his students. (Domain 2)

The teacher used formative assessment. (Domain 3)

The teacher reflected on her lesson. (Domain 4)

I mean it’s like you’re not even trying.

And I understand that all school leaders aren’t created equally. Expecting all feedback to be deeply personal, poeticaly worded, and free of platitude is unrealistic and unfair. 

Still, much like the excitement of sitting down to a movie you can’t wait to see, teachers deserve the same effort from us that moviegoers deserve from screenwriters. Minimally, they need to feel like their time wasn’t wasted, like they weren’t a box waiting to be checked. 

Ideally, they walk away from a post-observation conference or impromptu chat feeling something about the feedback you’ve given. 

Otherwise, you run the risk of teachers muttering their own catchphrase before every interaction with you.

I’ve got a bad feeling about this. 

Level Up Leadership: Advance Your EduGame is available on Amazon.