All schools are different. Therefore contextualized knowledge about everything from “Attendance” to “Zoning” is invaluable for successful partnerships. So, whenever I ask my colleagues for information about the teaching and learning happening in their specific department, I frame my request with this caveat; the information will allow me to:
In turn, these three purposes provide meaningful opportunities, both planned and unexpected, to develop relationships with educators.
But even if the “Ask” is relevant, there are important details to consider when designing and presenting a survey. As you consider your next information request, these features can enhance your return rate and the power of your data.
When to survey
Educators are busy and there is never a perfect time to conduct an information request. But there are times that are more opportune than others. If you are hosting a professional learning opportunity or workshop build in time to gather information during the event, not after. Otherwise, the first week after the end of a marking period (quarter or semester) is usually a time of renewed energy for teachers. Likewise, asking after testing periods (state, district, IB, AP) in late May or early June can bring valuable end of the year reflective insights. The same timelines apply to administrators and central office staff with additional options, school vacations and summer. These audiences often have extended contracts and will be less encumbered during those days.
What to survey
This, of course, will be based on your intent. However, your “ask” should seek specific examples where possible. Similarly, include options for participants to connect with you and have an open-ended prompt where additional comments and questions can be offered.
How to survey
The term “survey” can be viewed as intrusive and a burden. Therefore, presentation and method matter. I have included some ways to conceptualize a survey through digital approaches. Sometimes using technology based tools to get information is met with gratitude because you have introduced a new resource for educators to use in their school. Regardless of what style you choose, easy access for the participants and an expected completion time should be provided.
The aftermath of a survey also requires strategy. Following up using the framing I noted above - knowledge, celebration, and support - is a meaningful collection of outcomes to share with your audience. Most importantly, demonstrate your gratitude. I it is a memorable step and can solidify relationships for future asks.