I want to provide an update for you today on the feedback and engagement process as we plan for the 2020-2021 school year. Please feel free to watch my video update
for an overview, or keep reading this email for more details.
As you know, over the past three weeks, we have been gathering feedback from parents/guardians, students and staff members on your experiences with distance learning this spring and your thoughts on planning for the fall. This is an important first step in our three-phase, rapid-design process for the next school year. Here’s a quick look at the numbers for the data phase of this process:
- We’ve gathered feedback through a total of six surveys for families, staff or students.
- We’ve also conducted 21 focus groups.
- Your response has been absolutely incredible — we’ve had approximately 7,000 touchpoints in this process. Thank you, thank you, thank you for taking the time to make sure your voice matters!
We will be taking all of your feedback to inform the next phase in the process - the design phase - as we work on developing a plan for the upcoming school year. Later this week, we’ll be posting a summary of the data on our website. But in this email, I want to share a high-level summary of your feedback.
I’ll start with what we learned about distance teaching and learning. The key values we identified are:
- Consistency and clarity about distance teaching and learning expectations, learning platforms and communications.
- Flexibility and work-life or school-life balance.
- Maintaining meaningful relationships and connection in a distance learning environment.
- Continued high quality learning — which is a common theme among our staff, families and students.
The key problems we identified are:
- Accountability, which relates to clarity around things such as expectations, engagement and deadlines.
- Consistency and structure - and this ties back to the values bucket and involves a lot of things such as schedules, grading and workflow within our learning management systems.
- Overwhelm and balance, and I think so many of you can relate to this feeling over the past few months. We heard this from many families — and especially working parents.
The key ideas we identified are:
- Differentiation so that students have options for their learning and the pace of their learning.
- Clear structures across the board in expectations, learning platforms and communications — while also maintaining a value for flexibility.
- Student and parent hubs across all areas as self-guided resources to turn to for help.
- Teams for teachers to work together, whether it be in pairs, departments, grade-level bands, or across buildings.
We also asked both families and staff members about their hopes for the fall. It’s no surprise - the overwhelming response is the hope that we will be able to safely welcome our students back into our schools and our classrooms this fall. And this is our hope, too, and we’re planning to make that happen based upon health guidance we’re waiting to receive from state and local officials. As soon as we receive that guidance, we will share more with you as we learn more. We also have all seen what a fluid and rapidly changing situation this has been, and we will need to continue to be as flexible as we plan for the next school year.
During the final phase in this process, the decisions phase, I’ll be presenting a recommendation to the Board of Education, which I hope to do in late June. But before presenting the final recommendation to the Board of Education, we will be asking all stakeholders for feedback on that final draft. The Board of Education wants to hear from every possible voice before making a final decision.
I’d like to thank you again for taking the time to share your thoughts over the past few weeks — as always, your voice matters! Have a great day, continue to have a great summer and, as always, go Bears!
Paul Imhoff, Ed.D.
Superintendent, Upper Arlington Schools