After stumbling upon an interesting post by The School Vlogger, Dr. Mary Hemphill, I noticed she happened to be talking about engaging student voice at her school, and when she began to talk about changing culture and keeping students at the centre, I was really intrigued. The idea being shared was one way that she was addressing the challenge of collecting data from the most important people in the school – the students! We’ve all used surveys, and engaged in conversations and observations, and of course google forms, but do we really hear from everyone that way? And how engaged in the process do they really feel? It was my experience as a school leader that despite the most intentional planning to know every student, there were some voices I heard more than others and some classrooms that I visited more frequently than others. After watching the YouTube video below, and hearing this idea, I was excited about trying it and was missing being at my school in order to give it a go!
3 simple questions…just 1 minute out of class time, AND asked to every one of the students at the school…could that be done?
I don’t have students this year, as I’m not in my school…who did I know who might value this, and want to give it a go? I sent out a tweet to my first educational mentor, Kathy Gossling-Spears, who I was fortunate enough to meet in my first 3 years of teaching. Our dream has always been to have a school of our own one day! 🙂
Just as I thought, Kathy dove in and gave it a try. Watch the video below that inspired us and check out the interview with Kathy about her observations about the first time trying it!
Here are the 3 questions:
- How are you doing today?
- Are you having any challenges or concerns in your class or our school?
- What is your greatest celebration or what are you most proud of?
Give it a try and let us know what you find out and how it works for you! Kathy is now on round two, so stay tuned for an update on what she has learned. 🙂
Love this post Brenda and Kathy!
Some of the information you got was tremendous and you were able to have some excellent follow up where it was beneficial.
This ‘activity’ reminds me so very much of the teachings of Jim Milligan, my dear mentor who helped me so much with ‘paying attention’ to people—listening, asking questions, sitting comfortably in the silence waiting for a response, respecting people, being non-judgmental, etc.
I have a couple of questions. How on earth did you accomplish it in one minute per child? Did you ever feel a need to ask leading questions or to evoke a deeper response? Or did you ever find yourself not asking that because of time constraints? I’d love to know how you managed that.
Second thought. Jim Milligan used to have similar check-ins with us as teachers—although not formally. I always loved it when he would pull his computer screen down, put his phone on silent, turn in his chair, look into my eyes, and ask me ‘how are you doing today’? Have you thought about doing this with staff?
Thank you both for sharing this.
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I actually wondered how I would ever get through my questions in one minute but it was pretty close and very efficient. Sometimes I would ask a leading question for clarification or to dig a little deeper. I certainly did this when I asked the students “How are your doing today?” I asked them to tell me why they felt that way. I got some really wonderful, reflective responses to this question. I never left anything out as I wanted to be consistent with all of my students.
I did do the same with my staff when I met them near the end of January for our Fireside Chats. Staff have also been very curious about what our students have been saying.
I have collated my Round 2 responses based on the questions 1) How are you doing today? 2) Is there something that you have learned lately that helps you even when you are not at school? and 3) How do you know you are learning? Brenda and I worked together to create the second round of questions as we wanted to focus on transfer of skills and also the metacognition piece.
In the second round the big theme/ideas that came out consistently from the students was the importance of relationships, engagement in their learning, being healthy and happy. Many skills have transferred over in terms of math, health and wellness, reading and parent involvement, especially in the area of math. This has been the catalyst for a PRO grant application where we will focus on Number Talks, Growth Mindset and the learning that many on staff have just completed through the Jo Boaler online maths course. We feel it is important for our parents to understand that math is not just “drill and kill” activities and worksheets that can be done as homework or extra practice. In the area of how students know they are learning they are aware, reflective, have a variety of strategies that they use and understand that it is okay to make mistakes. Some of our younger students reflected on their learning as if someone (teacher or parent) was putting the learning into their heads as opposed to them being the learner. We are spending time as a staff focusing on the 21st Century Competencies and recently shared these skills and competencies at our JK Orientation last week.
If I can I will try and do Round 3 with a question based on changes for next year, accomplishments for this school year and of course the How are you doing today? question.
I suggest giving it a try….I have shared some of my observations with my PLT group as well as some Ps and VPs in our board.
I am always happy to share and answer any questions people may have.
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It was great to see all that you learned from your Round 2 data and that the questions about learning for transfer and more of a question about metacognition worked as well. I’m impressed that you set your mind to it, and got this done, not once, but twice, because I know that in your day there will be many things competing for your attention. Any tips on how you managed that part?
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That’s awesome, Kathy!
That’s a lot of mileage out of a ‘simple’ idea. (I’m not downplaying the amount of work – I know it’s a lot!)
Thank you for sharing so openly.
I’ll ask you sometime to elaborate on the transfer and metacognition pieces. (Examples and all) I’d love to dig into that through a conversation with you and Brenda.
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