Will Anything Change as a Result of the Thought Exchange Survey?

Will Anything Change as a Result of the Thought Exchange Survey?

In the spring, SPS students, teachers, and parents were asked to participate in the Thought Exchange. In this online survey, school community members were asked what the district needs to stop, start, or continue doing. From there, participants could look through the responses other people shared and rate them with a five-star system on how much they agreed or disagreed with their statements. All contributions to the Thought Exchange survey were completely anonymous; however, it was easy to tell whether or not it was a student or an adult who posted a “thought.” 

Using the Thought Exchange, students, teachers, and parents were asked to give their thoughts on problems with all the schools: Gates, SHS, and all four elementary schools. With  the myriad thought-provoking takes on how to improve the schools, there were many common responses. At Gates Middle School, students repeatedly asked if they could carry their backpacks in between classes. There were also numerous comments about cafeteria food. At SHS, students’ responses focused on unlocking the bathrooms, promoting a more inclusive environment, and offering better food in the cafeteria. 

Of course, a lot of people who participated in the Thought Exchange wondered, what is the point? What is the administration going to do with these responses? We reached out to the principal of the high school, Dr. Lisa Maguire, for her response to these questions

In her email response, Dr. Maguire elaborated on the data: “We are still awaiting the data back from the district level, but I’m interested in seeing what topics rise to the top.” She went on to say, “As, with any survey, we review everything, even criticisms, as a way to be more informed about what we can do better.”

Maguire explained some of the challenges of the Thought Exchange from her perspective: “It’s difficult not to be able to meet directly with someone to learn more about their concerns, as the Thought Exchange is anonymous.” We also asked her what they were going to do with the data when it was finished. She replied, “We’ll see if is anything new or surprising, what areas we are already working on (which confirms we are on the right track with our work) and see what we can do to help improve outcomes for students, teachers, and community members.” 

We also decided to ask students and teachers about what the administration should do with the Thought Exchange data since the changes would directly affect them. Victor Bowker, an SHS junior, said, “I’d like to see them rank how often each topic of concern came up and then work to apply solutions to the top issues first.” He went on to say, “They should certainly take some time to research themselves on the potential pros and cons of those solutions.” We also asked SHS mathematics teacher Phil Blake his opinion on how the data should be used. He responded, “I think that members of the administration, like Superintendent Burkhead and the principals of all the schools, should get together and talk about the most talked-about issues and work to solve them.”

The Thought Exchange survey gave everyone in the school community a chance to voice their opinions. Hopefully, people will actually feel like their voices are being heard and that issues are being resolved instead of giving them lip service.