Within this post, please find the results to a family survey that we sent out and kept open over the past few weeks. We received 314 responses to the survey, with 32 people taking the survey more than once resulting in 282 unique responses. I’m grateful for everyone who took the time to participate and to share your thoughts in the comments. To understand our purpose for conducting the survey, here’s the introductory letter that accompanied it.
We can’t believe it’s been ten months since the beginning of the global pandemic that’s forced significant changes upon our school system. Thank you to all of our families who have reached out to share your thoughts, encouragement, suggestions for improvement and gratitude. This has been the single most challenging time of my 32 year career in education and we very much look forward to the day that our students return to us fully in-person, 5 days per week.
Our leadership team, in collaboration with our teachers and BOE members, have made what we’ve thought were the best decisions for the students of SGI. We turn to you to tell us how things are going for your children. For every parent who asks for more rigorous learning opportunities and more instructional time for students on remote days, we hear from families who say, “we’re managing as well as we can now and cannot do anything more.”
Please help us to get a sense of where you are as a family by participating in the survey that follows. We are looking for opportunities to improve instruction for our students at the same time that we acknowledge that every family is different. Your answers will help to guide our decisions moving forward as we face the reality that it may be longer than we hoped before we’re back to “normal” in our schools. As we return to the hybrid model on January 4, 2021, please know that we will clearly communicate any changes to our current plan in a timely manner so that you can manage the changes in your own family.
As a system, you can count on us to carefully focus on your individual comments where there is room for improvement and an ability to change. For example, if the comment was “get our kids back to five days of in-person instruction!“, we cannot do that under the requirement to maintain six feet of distance between our students. There’s nothing we’d like to do more than have 5 days of in-person instruction and yet I can’t deliver on that request.
I also want to acknowledge that the preponderance of positive feedback and understanding of the situation in which we exist under this pandemic was heartening. Thank you for the positive feedback and words of encouragement!
Who participated in the survey? We had an even distribution of families, with 41.7% of respondents identifying as SHS families, 36.9% as SMS, 41.3% as SES and 13.1% as CES which is reflective of our student population distribution.
How are we doing on communication? 78.3% of respondents agree that we are keeping you well informed. Within the comments we learn of times when someone isn’t receiving a return email or phone call from someone at SGI–this is NEVER acceptable. When you reach out to a teacher or administrator, you should expect a response in a timely manner. If you do not receive one, please try following up with a phone call and/or contacting the building administrator.
I also see a repeat comment from families that says, “give us a heads up sooner if my child isn’t doing well.” Please never hesitate to call the teacher, counselor, or principal to get more information and we will focus on being more proactive. Families can always keep up to date on grades by accessing PowerSchool any time, day or night. Please let us know if you need help with logging in and call or email the teacher if you are worried about the grades that you see there. Especially at the MS/HS levels, 90% of the time your child does know why the grades are low and has already had that conversation with the teacher.
Remote days–is the amount of work and time on the computer just right? Here we have 33.7% of our respondents disagreeing that the amount of work and time on the computer was just right. The next question digs a little deeper to find out if that’s because families want more or less time and work.
The answer to this question is as varied as the families we serve. As you can see 44.3% of families agree that more scheduled time on remote days is preferable, with 35.3% disagreeing.
We have been working to develop a more robust schedule for remote days since November. We are looking to add in more time directly on a schedule with teachers on Wednesdays and ways in which we can add teaching support for all students on remote days.
I need to spend a bit more time on this topic. We have heard our teachers make impassioned pleas to focus on only our in-person students on their two in-person learning days, as we planned from the beginning. As one veteran and well respected SES teacher said to me,
for the two days that we have students in-person, it is precious little time to focus on our children. Please don’t take that away from me or divide my attention by asking me to teach my remote children at the same time. We are making progress under the hybrid model, our students are doing well and they are not far behind where we would normally be at this time of the year.
We understand that teachers want to be with their students, uninterrupted and face to face when they are in school. However, we also understand the need to increase engagement and contact time with students when they are remote. This is why we are considering other ideas for offering more synchronous learning on remote days. It is our hope to have a plan in place for the beginning of the next semester. Three days per week without direct contact with teachers is not good for kids; we have to do better.
Is the school work on remote days manageable and meaningful? Are we extending the in-person learning or giving what’s perceived as ‘busy work’? I found these results to be encouraging and reflective of the hard work our teachers have done on developing asynchronous lessons. 56.1% of respondents agree that the work is meaningful with just 23.2% disagreeing. Our principals are dropping in on remote lessons, just as they always do in the regular school day to look for areas where they can provide feedback, encouragement and support to our teachers.
Last, to make life a little more exciting (!), I added a question about whether or not our families plan to have their children vaccinated. I can only say that I truly hope the decision about whether or not to mandate the vaccine is NOT left to us in individual school districts. As you can see here, the results are again, as varied as our families.
We will continue to focus on all students and families, doing the best that we can under these unbelievable circumstances. Thank you for all of your support, understanding and love for the Springville-Griffith Institute CSD. Your thoughts matter to us and we love hearing from you!