Ensuring schools are receptive to feedback is a must. Schools are in the business of serving up a first class educational product but it’s not up to us to decide if we make the grade, it iss the students and parents who need to make that judgement call.
If our report card is not glowing then we need to know about it. Equally, when we are doing things really well we should hear about that so we continue to do more of it!
Later this year a task group of staff will construct a feedback tool that allows students to give their teachers quality feedback on a regular basis, focussing on those things that really matter in a classroom. This will eventually evolve into a feedback process that allows for peer evaluations. Teachers will be rolling in meaningful data!
The School has previously used some feedback tools that have allowed us to build professional improvement plans and these have been based on the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. However, getting students to deliver some of their insights using these standards has not been overly effective. The kids don’t understand them well enough. Quite often what the students want to share with their teachers are things that are pretty straightforward and make a difference in their learning worlds! Wouldn’t it be great to allow young people to regularly share their concerns about homework, about exams, about the uniform, their peers and about facilities and the sport program. I reckon that it’s the little things that get lost in translation when students need to complete comprehensive surveys about classroom collaboration, achievement standards rubriks and effectiveness of pedagogy!
And the same applies to parents.
Sometimes parents just need to vent and share their frustrations at those smaller things in school life. Like the lack of choice of uniform items or languages on offer, the phone call that did not get a response, about the amount of homework set and the issues with kiss-and-drop zones. This year I have received feedback about thin stockings, girls pants, the difficulty in browsing the newsletter, the burden of homework in Year 7, the sunsmart policy and issues with benches and seating for students. Tour ideas, STEM suggestions, camp alternatives, even ideas for the new electronic sign have been among several small but clever proposals forwarded by parents.
Towards the end of this year, St John’s embarks on the consultation phase of the new Strategic Plan process. Parents will be given plenty of opportunities to share their thoughts and ideas about our school. Heads of School and myself will continue to host coffee mornings and information evenings to allow parents to get together and discuss the very things that matter to them. My two coffee mornings are coming up this term:
- Week 7 – Tuesday 12 June at 7.30am
- Week 8 – Friday 22 June at 7.30am
Further to this, I will be having a series of lunches with our Year 9 students (three this term and three in early Term 3). I look forward to also replicating this process with our Year 4 students in the Junior School later in Term 3.
All our staff have their doors open. Every day, parents and students come forward with feedback.
An important message to parents, and any member of our School community, is that you do not need a meeting to give feedback. You do not need a specific time or go through a particular process to share. Don’t hold on to those things that bug you, don’t keep hidden from those gems of ideas and certainly if there is discontent with our service the best thing to do is to talk about it with us. Don’t let those things fester. You are never wrong to come forward. You deserve to have things right!