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146. Structures to Gather Student Experience Data During the School Day

by Lindsay Lyons
January 16th 2024
In today's solo episode, Lindsay is sharing structures that you can use to gather student experience data during the s... More
I'm educational justice coach Lindsay Lyons. And here on the time for Teacher podcast, we learn how to inspire educational innovation for racial and gender justice design curricula grounded in student voice and build capacity for shared leadership. I'm a former teacher leader turned instructional coach. I'm striving to live a life full of learning, running, baking, traveling and parenting because we can be rockstar educators and be full human beings if you're a principal, assistant superintendent, curriculum director, instructional coach or teacher who enjoys nering out about co-creator curriculum of students. I made this show for you. Here we go. Welcome to episode 146 of the time for leadership podcast. You know, we talk a lot about collecting student voice data or street data as Shane Ser and Jamila Dogan talk about. So in this episode, I'm discussing systems and scheduling strategies that you can use to identify times during the school day that teachers, counselors, other school stakeholders can regularly listen to students, they can hear and witness their experiences around school and really think about how we act to support them.

So this is how and where and when and whom collects the student experience data. So you might be willing to invite students to share their experiences and ideas, but you may not know when this could happen. So in this episode, we're thinking about some ideas. All right, let's start by naming what student experience it is and why we need it. I have talked about this concept of street data or what I've lately been calling Student Experience Data on various podcasts in the past. So feel free to check those out in more depth. And I actually have a great youtube series coming up next month in February, that's going to do a five minute video series of walkthroughs of which uh types of student data collection strategies you may use to actually gather this data. But in this episode, what we're going to talk about is how we structure that in a way that invites students and also the adults that are, that are in conversation with that are listening to that are prompting students to share their experiences. We're gonna talk about the systems and structures that enable those conversations to happen within the school day itself.

So no one's having to stay after school. We don't have to pay teachers per session or expect that they're going to do this. And we're not going to expect that students are going to do this as well because sometimes the students we need to talk to the most are the students that need to leave, right? As the school day ends. So starting with the part about why we need it again. We've talked about this a lot in various podcast episodes regarding the youth benefits of student voice and the adult benefits of student voice. Feel free to listen to prior episodes on that. But for now, I'll just say, and if at the school level, schools and districts make better decisions when students help them make those decisions. So we see this in various organizations, right? Organizations in general have better organizational outcomes when diverse stakeholder groups are part of the decision making process. So knowing that knowing there is a compelling reason for the individuals in the organization, as well as the organization as a whole moving forward and being successful. Let's think about the student experience data and like what, what is the tie to that?

How do we figure out like what exactly that means? And then when can we collect it or gather it or you know, be in community with students to kind of experience that. So in their book, Street Data, Jamila Dugan and Jane Ser write a comprehensive model of school transformation could consist of quote stitching together for often siloed elements. Equity is the fundamental purpose, pedagogy as the fundamental pathway, adult culture, as the vehicle and street data as the GPS system that keeps us on the path of equity centered transformation. I just love this as an orientation to this conversation because it pulls in all the things Right. We're here for instructions. They talk about a pedagogy of student voices. I talk about that a ton. We're talking about equity as, as the purpose, as the core, everything that we do is from there. We're talking about how adult culture really needs to be worked on. Right. So that, that is something that we need to invest time and energy into so that it can be the vehicle for equity and, and to develop our pedagogy.

And what keeps us on the path of that is the street data, right? That's our GPS system in this analogy. And so I think that it's really important that if that is the case, if, if we subscribe to this idea, we think it's great, we need to make sure that we are regularly collecting and analyzing that street data. I think we have often in schools and districts, these data collection kind of sources in our minds that are not street data and we'll get into some of some of these in just a moment. But I think if we want to truly use it as a GPS system, I think about driving a car, right? And I often don't know where I'm going. If the GPS shorts out or loses connection to the satellite or whatever, like I am going off road, I'm not gonna get where I am going. I need it to be on all of the time. So I need to collect that street data regularly if I'm truly going to use it as a GPS system, if we're really leaning into this analogy here. And so to do that, I need to embed it into the existing systems. And if the existing systems don't let me embed it, then I need to adapt the systems so that they are able to be a space for that gathering of street data and student experiences.

So I think that's, that's kind of a great frame for this episode and gives us a strong way. No, like I said, we do look at data, we probably have like your favorite data analysis protocol for different meetings or maybe you only use uh that data analysis protocol in your leadership meetings and you don't use it in your teacher teams or maybe your teacher teams only look at specific kinds of data, maybe that's just grade data or attendance data, right? So often what we look at whether it is the leadership team, possibly your teacher teams when we, when we talk about things publicly like the paper or online in the paper that feels very antiquated. But do you know what I mean? It's often what do and interfere call satellite data. These are broad quantitative measures, test scores, attendance patterns, graduation rates, lots of numbers there or it might be map data. This is your kind of social emotional cultural learning trends within the learning community. So it could be like rubric scores, surveys like these are kind of getting closer to the street level, but they're still not quite at like what is that individual student experience?

So we may get into the individual student experience, we may do those kind of deeper dives into data sets that include students lived experiences, right? Where students are telling us how they're experiencing or feeling about their learning environment about themselves within the learning environment as learners. So this street data or what I've been referring to as a student experience data, this, this might also include students sharing. Like here's what's hurting me or here's what's impeding my ability to thrive here. Here's what I wish the school might do differently or what this adult or this teacher might do differently to improve my learning, to improve their instruction, to improve the system of schooling. And so all of those things are great. It's just that we don't usually do those aside from maybe every five years or however often we do our strategic planning processes. So they're not practiced on a daily or weekly basis if you're going from every five years to now wanting to do every day, right? That's a big stretch. So I say I say weekly because maybe that's like an easier kind of stopping point, but that's still a massive shift if we've been doing every five years.

And now we're thinking weekly, like, where does that live? It needs a spot, it needs a container. Um We need these systems and processes and also the expectations and kind of accountability for saying every time we meet as this committee or this group, we are checking in and sh sharing our street data. What information did you collect? What students share with you their experience today, their feelings about school, what can be changed? Right. And if if we don't have that accountability paired with the structures that allow people to be successful in gathering these student experience data. And also I have to say, I think this is sometimes um just something that I, I talk about so much that I'm like, oh, this is second nature to just think, think about this and I don't have to say it, but I will say that there has to be a interpersonal classroom and or school wide culture of trust in students and trust in the relationships in the community at whatever level you're gathering the data on. So if it's a one on one conversation, a classified discussion, um you know, at the school assembly, whatever it is that we have created the conditions for which students will perceive trust in in the adult, asking them to share their experiences and trust that it will be um anonymized when relevant, right, that it will be used not against the student and it will actually be considered and perhaps not always acted on in the exact way as an idea may be suggested by a student, but that it will be considered in a deep way.

And if it is not acted on that, we will return to either that student or if it's anonymous, you know, the broader student body and say, hey, we received this idea. Here's why we, we tried to work it out. Here's why it just couldn't work out. So we just want to help students understand that their ideas are going somewhere, they are meaningful. We're taking them seriously and we're acting on them. And if we can't act on them, we are um being accountable to the student who's adjusted that or the student body at large. And we are sharing, you know, this is, this is how we grappled with this. We're open to maybe additional ideas. But here are the parameters that we just can't work outside of right now. And so it's not a possibility at the moment, but we again are appreciative of your ideas and sometimes it takes a lot of internal work for adults to do when you're being told, I wish you did this differently or, you know, sometimes it's, it's um maybe not said that that politely, but I think that's another thing, right? Creating the conditions and creating the culture, which we have conversations that honor our adults and students, individual, human dignity.

And so are quote unquote, respectful in that way where we honor the dignity but can be critical, right? Like we can ask for more and it comes from a place of like strength and admiration and acknowledgment that like we have a high expectations from you, but we'll also support you, right? Like I, I think that's, that's the beauty of the culture. So a little s little aside on the culture here, but I think that this is kind of an underlying piece that if we don't have it, we can't really do any of these other things. So let's get to where we might actually gather this data and listen to student experiences. These are just some ideas for where this might live in your school and the stakeholders who may or may not be associated with this gathering of data. This invitation for students to share more. I'm sure there's like a ton more. These are the the the five that came to mind. As I was thinking, if you have more, I would love to hear this, by the way, feel free to comment at the blog post. This blog is Lindsay Beth lions.com/blog/one 46.

OK. First thing I was thinking so this could live in a period that might be called advisory for you. It might be student mentoring or it might be morning meeting. Now, I know these are kind of like grade level, they might be different. Like each of these might fit into a different grade level. You may not have mentoring at your school. You may not have advisory at your school. You may or may not do morning meeting right. So, so maybe this isn't a good fit or maybe um that is something that you want to create as a school. Like we need an advisory period to kind of house these things. So what you would do here, I envision you develop prompts for students, whole group or individually to share ideas about what's great about the school. These are gonna be very general. Obviously, you can get specific here with your question language. But what's great? I think you always want to invite the questions of what's great one, it makes the feedback easier to hear, but also two, it celebrates the things that are going well. We don't want to overlook those and perhaps take resources or time or energy away from those. If those are supporting students, we want to really know what, what we are doing well, what's not so great and, and ideally and um Sophia and you can talk about this a little bit in their book is like, what is the impact that Ha has been had on the student?

So like here's something that's not great, but like, tell me about it from your lived experience, right? This is um part of a question they suggest for like Kiva panels, I think. But what is not so great and how has it impacted me? Right? As the student, I'm gonna share again that lived experience and then finally, what could or should be changed? So this idea of action suggested action. The next thing I think, and I think you can use some of those same kind of ideas here is that this could live in, in, in the counselor's department. So at the end of a group or individual session, you might ask students, hey, you shared a lot of things here and what came up ended up being, you know, some things that fell into those categories, maybe something they liked or disliked about the school, maybe an idea for change or maybe they didn't concretely say it as like this should be this way, but that the idea or the experience that underlies, perhaps an idea would be valuable for adults to hear. And we want to protect the confidentiality and enmity of the students in the session. But you, you might as a counselor say, hey, I'd love to share just your ideas with adults in the school, maybe a leadership team, maybe just, you know, other adults to help improve the school.

And ideally your and other students who've had similar experiences of school, um their experiences as well. So that's my goal is to like, make school better. Can I share little nuggets of what you shared? And I will share those ideas without any way to identify you. I'm just going to share in a very broad general sense and I might even say if I'm the counselor there, you know, here's what I kind of want to say and then share the language and ask if that's OK for the students. And so just to say, you know, I will protect your confidentiality. And I think this is a really powerful thing that I think we should take action on or to strongly consider or grapple with. Can I bring it there? Right. Because there's a lot shared there and then it often doesn't go anywhere or it's shared from the counselor's perspective as like this is a thing the counselor wants to do and it's actually originating in a student experience, but we don't always know that it's originating in a student experience when we're in adult meetings. And we're kind of like conflicting over like this adult wants to do this and this adult wants to do this. And so like, it's adult versus adults kind of like conflict or disagreement and it's like, no, no, no, this originated in a student experience.

We need to value that. I think there's a different uh dimension there. Next, I thought college career, civic planning sessions or IEP meetings. So typically students with IEPs, right? You have your annual meetings, you do a lot of transition planning. This is a moment for adults, youth families to come together. So this is a wonderful moment to be like, hey, what's working, what's not what should change. But I also think um you know, working in Massachusetts and they have their system of my c where they, they want to broaden sixth grade through 12th grade, like basically that transition type of planning where we're focusing on college career, civic pathways, like how do we learn about that? Focus on that tailor it to individual student needs and develop the systems and structures in the school around that, to support each students, you know, aspirations. Like though that kind of thing doesn't need to just be for students with iuts. So any sort of like this kind of routine planning and sometimes this happens within, you know, a a classroom, like a specific lesson, sometimes it's meetings with counselors or like mentoring, right?

It can live in different spaces. But anytime we have a session around this transition in college career, civic ip these kind of things, I think it's great to prompt students to share experiences of what their aspirations are, which is typically part of the regular process. But then to also ask to what degree have school stakeholders, right, the school adults and also the structures, this might be maybe the courses that are offered, you know, it could be a lot of things have supported these dreams, right? To what degree? So have they supported? Have they not supported? Where are they on the continuum and what could be more supportive? So it's really like, yeah, what are your dreams? But also how can we help and how we maybe falling short at the moment and how could we be better, right? Just putting that out there to individual students or students, like, you know, if you're doing a class lesson on college career and civic pathways, like invite all the students to share either individually in writing, um you know, or share a whole class, right? And then take some notes. Another option. I think one of the the central things that I I love about the Book Street Data and just the concept of collecting student experience data in the service of equity that we want to really get to know the experiences of students who have been marginalized, right, who are living on the margins of the school experience.

So why not create a space or a system for students who have been sent out of class, right? These are likely the students who are not feeling successful or supported at school in the moment. So this may be how the main office, if you're a school that sends folks to the main office or like a restorative room, if you are a school that practices restorative justice practices, then you have kind of a space for um like resing, refocusing, repairing harm, whatever, whatever that looks like. But I think, you know, these are the students that we want to learn from, they have so much to teach us. So if we can set up a system, whether it's, you know, here's a design, a person to talk to, here's a space to record your thinking verbally in writing or maybe even as an image right, drawing or selecting or taking a picture that kind of exemplifies their experience in response to some prompts. Like they could just be the same as the ones above, right? Like what has worked, what has not worked? What would you change just to help us learn how to support that student and other students honestly, who might have had similar experiences or ideas to share with us.

Right? What a great opportunity and then it makes the kind of being sent out of I I don't like, I, I don't think that's necessarily like what we want to strive for. But if a student is sent out of a room, right? Like let's make that opportunity a meaningful one for everyone involved. Let's make that student feel heard and that the supports are gonna change. So that that student doesn't feel the way that they did as they were leaving the class, right? Because I'm sure that student is like, is not celebrating, right? Their um dismissal from class. So the last piece I'll share is I think, you know, instruction is a central part of, of why we're all in school so that all students are taking academic, academic classes. Therefore, this is like the opportunity to, to get all students um invited, right, to reflect on their student experience. And so at the end of a lesson at the end of a week of instruction or even at the end of a unit, I would have a conversation in like a typical classroom. So it might be like the social studies teachers take this on as a thing that we're gonna do once a week or something.

Right? Or, or maybe each week like a different teacher takes it on. And so you can invite students to reflect on your personal, like curriculum and instruction for your course. I think that's great. You could also expand it out so students could share experiences about curriculum and instruction more broadly, right? And then you just rotate the teacher asking so that it's like everyone kind of is covered each week, you have something to say, or you can even invite students to share beyond the academic experience and just talk about like ideas for school supports and, and policies and things like this. OK. That was a five point list. I think once you have these structures in place and you don't mean all of them, I think even if you have one awesome, then you can regularly invite students to share their experiences and their ideas for change. Now, for how to do this, what are like the ways that you would engage students and prompt students and the format they can respond in. Please check out the outcome student experience data strategy series. This is on my youtube channel where I do five minute tutorials each week. That's gonna start February 7th of 2024 if you're listening in the distant future and for now I'm going to link a related video that kind of gets you started with students experience data.

Um That's another five minute tutorial on the blog post right below this summary. Also, I am going to share my student leadership capacity building survey with you. So that is gonna be linked on the blog post. You can start collecting student experience data right away with like an existing tool that has been uh you know, valid, validated and, and done all the things to make it make sense. So how you get that is Lindsay, Beth lions.com/blog/one 46. All right. I'll talk to you next time. Everybody. If you like this episode, I bet you'll be just as jazz as I am about my coaching program for increasing student led discussions in your school, Shane, Sair and Jamila Dugan talk about a pedagogy of student voice in their book street Data. They say students should be talking for 75% of class time. Do students in your school talk for 75% of each class period? I would love for you to walk into any classroom in your community and see this in action. If you're smiling yourself as you listen right now, grab 20 minutes on my calendar to brainstorm. How I can help you make this big dream a reality. I'll help you build a comprehensive plan from full day trainings and discussion protocols like circle and Socratic seminar to follow up classroom visits where I can plan witness and debrief discussion based lessons with your teachers.

Sign up for a nerdy no strings attached to brainstorm. Call at Lindsay, Beth lions.com/contact. Until next time, leaders think big act brave and be your best self. This podcast is a proud member of the Teach Better Podcast Network better today, better tomorrow and the podcast to get you there, explore more podcasts at teach better.com/podcasts and we'll see you at the next episode.

146. Structures to Gather Student Experience Data During the School Day
146. Structures to Gather Student Experience Data During the School Day
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