by John Beisner
Now that the Leadership Team, including the executive team, principals, and other administrative staff, has discussed the 2019 School Culture surveys and come to their conclusions. I’d like to share a little about how those conclusions were reached.
I’ve previously shared all of the data in the form of bar charts featuring the answers to individual questions from distinct groups (SoCal ISP Teachers, NorCal In-Custody Staff, etc). My hope was to capture all of the answers on a scale from 1 to 5 in a quick, visual format. Yet you may recall that each question section featured an area where respondents were able to write in comments. While the majority of the surveys were completed without these optional comments, many people did chose to write in their comments and quite a few did so at length. In fact, there were a total of 18 single-spaced pages of comments!
1. qualifying answers
This was probably the most numerous type of answers wherein folks tried to add extra detail to questions where they didn’t feel simply clicking a number between 1 and 5 would sufficiently capture their opinion, when they wanted to make sure we understood who they were talking about (“this only applies to my supervisor”) or they just wanted to make sure we understood that “I don’t really know enough to have a strong opinion.” I’ll note here that the ONLY time individuals were mentioned by name in any of the survey responses was in a positive light, e.g. “Veronica is great” or “Gale is a wonderful supervisor.”
2. Gushing, venting or waxing poetical
Though we are not providing specific quotes, many respondents took the time to explain their thoughts in depth in a personal, meaningful way. Way to go with the metaphors, Five Keys!
3. BIG-PICTURE TALK
These were the comments where folks wanted to go outside the confines of the questions to share big observations and opinions (i.e. speak truth to power, give serious and thoughtful feedback, share their powerful perspectives and generally just be awesome). There was some serious big-picture thinking going on here. I enjoyed reading these comments most of all.
4. cOMMENTING ON THE SURVEY ITSELF
There were a few comments like “this question is awkwardly worded” or “I would like to say more but I don’t trust that this is truly anonymous. Thanks for this feedback! The surveys were anonymous but I could have done more to reassure people of that fact, and I certainly could have done a better job crafting the questions.
5. Identifying specific problems or concerns
Some topics seemed to come up again and again, in particular:
*Collaboration and Community (the good and less good)
*RJ Training (the need for more of it)
*Supporting students with trauma or mental health issues and the need for training in this area
*WPRs and Paperwork and the quantity of time that they require
*ADA pressure, the deleterious effects of it and frustration regarding situations where ADA is out of a teacher’s control and yet that teacher still feels accountable for those numbers.
If you are someone who commented on your survey and would actually have LIKED to see your comments broadcast on the BITE, I hope you understand my reasoning for not doing so and can accept the above summary as a satisfactory substitute. Even massive tech firms have a hard time dealing with the question of how to balance transparency with privacy. They frequently get it wrong despite teams of lawyers and high-paid executives. I don’t have even a tiny team of lawyers or low-paid executive, so I can only lead with good intentions and hope that no one is too disappointed.
Finally, in response to the question “What what programs, websites or apps do you use?” Thanks to everyone who took the time to share their experience. We have so many excellent recommendations that we’re going to post them all in a separate article, here. If you aren’t aware of some of these resources, please investigate! You may consider them officially “peer tested and approved”.
So much for my observations! Now to where it counts. When the Leadership Team met to discuss the survey results, they too concluded that “the narrative feedback was more informative than the qualitative data, which was mostly neutral.” From that data, they’ve produced the following document:
By now, most of you have experienced action item #1. I sincerely hope that we continue to see positive changes as a result of this survey. Thank you again to everyone who took the time to share!