As schools and districts across the country continue to pivot, adapt, and recalibrate to address the challenges posed by COVID-19, collecting feedback from students is critical. This can be done in both formal and informal ways, ranging from casual conversations with students or advisory groups to administering a school-wide climate survey. To bridge the divide between these formal and informal feedback mechanisms, semi-structured conversations with diverse groups of students can serve as an opportunity to learn more about students’ experiences and dig deeper into opportunities to boost school climate. Student climate data can illuminate key areas of success and opportunities for growth, allowing school leaders to understand, reflect, and act on feedback. Whether virtual, in-person, or hybrid, consider the following tips for planning, running, and reflecting on conversations about students’ experiences and perceptions of school climate.
Surfacing & Addressing Barriers to Student Learning: 8 Recommendations for Exploring, Discussing, & Acting on School Climate Data
We are living through an unprecedented moment of challenge and uncertainty as we experience the serious health and economic impacts of COVID-19 and a simultaneous racial reckoning nationwide. In this same moment, we also know more than ever before about learning and human development. Convergent evidence from multiple disciplines has demonstrated that learning and
Right now, it is more important than ever that we maintain open communication with our students and their families. I will admit that calling the parents and guardians of my students is a challenge for me. It’s not that I don’t want to. Honestly, once it’s over I’m always glad that I did. Maintaining open communication with parents is essential to meeting a student’s needs, to understanding where they’re coming from and what kind of support they need. But just getting on the phone with someone that I don’t know makes my heart race.
When we as teachers teach by example, our students become more engaged and can witness the process at work. This simple assignment, meant to stretch my students, also challenged me. I reflected on my practice, and it helped our school level biases. When students have the agency to problem solve, it also opens the doors for us as teachers to lend to the process. When we think about the many ways to impact change in the daily educational experience, we often forget those voices who are being educated. When asked, my students thought critically about change and learned how to advocate in the process. Their voices were valuable in the conversation to improve education, instructional procedures, and operations.
A recent study by Transforming Education, conducted in partnership with NewSchools Venture Fund, suggests that across 18 innovative and diverse charter schools located throughout the country, students report having very different experiences within the same school based on a student survey of the school culture and climate.
Growing up, I was the epitome of a cookie-cutter kid. I excelled in school, getting straight A´s throughout the entirety of my elementary and junior high career. I played soccer and basketball, participated in track and field, and did triathlons. I became obsessed with trying to be perfect. For all of my time in junior high, I became preoccupied with a trophy that was given out to students with a cumulative GPA of 4.0. I stopped at nothing to get that award and at the time it seemed like it mattered more to me than anything else. Now, that trophy is sitting under my bed collecting dust. Don’t get me wrong -- I am proud of how hard I worked to accomplish what I did. However, after taking a huge leap of faith, my entire view of what success looks and feels like drastically changed.