This is a year like no other. As we move through the uncharted territory of school closures and openings, online and offline learning, the best we can do is try to understand what we are experiencing and determine the needs of the school community. In addition to the concerns of each school community, we must take time to understand their strengths and hopes, and respect what works for each community. To plan for a successful school year, one of the topmost concerns is how leaders can support students and teachers with their socioemotional needs.
In the Returning to School: A Principal's Toolkit, we recommend administering periodic surveys to gather feedback from families and teachers, as to what’s working and what’s not working. We have designed this set of four surveys to help school administrators quickly assess the major concerns and needs of the school community and integrate them into their planning. In addition to a survey for teachers and also for caregivers, we have included a survey for the school mental health services staff – given the enormous role they will be playing in supporting students in the upcoming year, as well as one for students themselves – to hear from the very people we are all trying to support.
Administrators can get feedback on questions such as:
- What support and training do the teachers need most?
- Strategies on how to engage students online
- How to identify and refer students who need more support
- Is there anything positive about the online teaching environment teachers can capitalize on?
- What do the students think about the school or district’s strategy?
- What supports do students think they need before and after schools reopen?
- What information and resources can the schools send out to help support teachers and families?
By administering the surveys, school administrators can not only plan to support needs of students and teachers, but also communicate to the community that they are listening, and are trying to accommodate the needs of all groups in these uncertain times.
- Nanmathi Manian is part of the capacity building team at the National Center.