Er…. thanks for the feedback?

One of the points that was made in the recent #AussieEd chat was in relation to anonymous feedback was that principals are given (extremely) unsolicited feedback on their wardrobe and appearance in anonymous surveys.

This made me think about anonymous student feedback which we receive a lot as academics – each semester, students are asked to provide anonymous teaching evaluations and research evidence is mounting – overwhelmingly so – that these surveys are discriminatory. They have been found to be racist, sexist, ableist, ageist, and the list goes on (for example, this open access paper by Meera E. Deo proves to be sobering reading). The comments can be brutal – academics have reported personal attacks, even threats, and there is little recourse. This study, for example, generated data through such evaluations, as well as through anonymous rating websites. They found that women were more likely to be rated on personality and appearance than men were. Similar issues were reported in the mainstream media (such as the Financial Times). You might be wondering, though, why I’m talking about academic labour conditions (because that’s what this issue is part of, really…) in a study about school leaders.

Well, here’s the thing. It isn’t just academics who experience this. School leaders are often encouraged to undertake anonymous 360-degree feedback surveys and this story highlights some of the particular ways anonymous feedback can be delivered cruelly and have implications for careers. They’re usually taken at key points of a leader’s career development – when people seek promotions, are appointed to new jobs, and so on. So this is naturally going to have some significant implications for the ways that feedback is read, understood, and taken up.

We wonder – have any other school leaders received anonymous comments that reflect the comments made in the tweet from last week’s chat?

We want to hear from you. Share your thoughts and experiences here in our survey.


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