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.
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.