Establishing open channels of communication between teachers and school and district leaders is critical to creating a healthy and nurturing school climate and culture. Schools at which teachers and staff feel the environment is collaborative, supportive, and professionally stimulating tend to have healthier climates, higher staff retention, and often produce better student educational outcomes.
For many teachers, the most important source of feedback about their teaching practice is their students. Knowing how their students feel about how they are taught and supported in their classes and at school can help teachers develop stronger relationships with their students, set goals, and measure progress towards those goals. Student surveys about teaching give teachers the feedback they need to strengthen their practice.
School climate represents an important lever for improving school safety, the quality of teaching and learning, and the strength of relationships in your school or district. Collecting feedback from families, students, and teachers and staff through a school climate survey is essential to building the strong, welcoming relationships that are for integral school and district success.
In Bellingham, Washington, all school or district administrators accepting new positions create entry plans. For some of them, a core component of that entry plan is looking at feedback data Panorama gathered from the students, families, and staff in their new school or from the district at large. The feedback data, which was collected to align with the district’s strategic plan, the Bellingham Promise, have been an important way for administrators to learn about the needs and priorities of the community they’re joining.
The leadership team at the Dubai American Academy believes firmly that creating a data-driven culture in their school starts with modeling one themselves. Last year, administrators partnered with Panorama to ask for feedback using Panorama’s surveys about how well they are supporting their teachers and students. This year, they are asking students for feedback on their teachers, building a school-wide practice of using education data to drive reflection and improvements to school climate and culture. Matthew Wilding, Deputy Superintendent of the school, which includes a primary, elementary, middle and high school, framed their work by saying, “We try to be transparent, and really practice what we preach.”
Students who feel that they are being held to high standards around effort and understanding by their teachers are more likely to trust that their teachers believe in them and their capacity to succeed, and as a result, achieve greater academic success. An important source of data about whether students feel that their teachers have rigorous expectations for them are students themselves. So that schools and districts can assess students’ perceptions of their teachers’ expectations and the extent to which they are being held to high standards, the Panorama Student Survey contains questions that measure this critical issue.