Survey Says — Ask, Listen, Plan, Engage, Monitor — #112Leads

Team effort goes vain when individual effort is in the wrong direction.”
– Ram Mohan

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This blog post content is also published in the Highland Park Neighbors magazine December 2018 issue on page 11 (Best Version Media)

Survey Says …

In North Shore School District 112 we take community engagement and stakeholder input very seriously!

As part of the Long Range Planning process, the District worked with a telephone research partner (Fako group) as well as with an online community engagement service called Thought Exchange to solicit community input and thoughts. People are encouraged to visit the District’s Long Range Planning Web page for more information: https://www.nssd112.org/Long-RangePlanning Those efforts in addition to the 25 member Superintendent’s Long Range Planning Committee (LRPC) gathered for several months to review, refine, draft, question, and advise the superintendent of schools.

In addition to community engagement for facilities and finance, we seek input on a regular basis to learn and grow as an organization. We believe that what you respect you inspect. We respect input and voice and we take action on an ongoing basis.

In addition to the statewide survey of school climate and learning conditions, 5Essentials Survey, we also conduct additional engagement surveys. It is essential for the leadership team to know what families think, what students think, and what teachers and support staff members think about the school district.

This year we conducted an INSIGHTeX organizational survey of all employees, and we have set goals by school and administrative department to act on and improve culture. The image shows that 72.41% of the 438 employees who took the survey indicate they are completely engaged and satisfied in the work they do in the school district. That survey measures culture on 15 dimensions (including communication, pride, growth, mission, quality, communication, recognition, etc.)

Starting in December, the District will be sharing the results of the student and family engagement surveys. Student voice, in addition to teacher and parent voice, is instrumental in leading the district on behalf of and with the people most impacted. Sometimes school districts overlook the voice and input of students; in our District we make it a priority to engage and involve students in our leadership. To that end, any facilities upgrades or improvements will include student and teacher voice (as well as community input) as part of the refinement process.

In addition, the District will also share the results of the Bright Bytes innovation and creative practices survey. The results of these surveys continue to drive change, improvement, and quality in our local school system. The Bright Bytes survey asks questions related to four major areas of technology impact: Classroom, Access, Skills, Environment. By learning what our stakeholders perceive, we’re able to see if there are gaps between perceptions, reality, and desired outcomes. Using survey data and the voice of the people so to speak, allows the District to lead in an inclusive and open manner.

District 112 sent information to students, teachers, and parents for completion of the Illinois mandated 5Essentials survey during the first week of December. The Illinois 5Essentials Survey provides a comprehensive picture of a school’s organizational culture in an individualized report measuring five “essentials” critical for school success:

  • Effective Leaders
  • Collaborative Teachers
  • Involved Families
  • Supportive Environment
  • Ambitious Instruction

From the U Chicago Impact site: Twenty years of research at the University of Chicago in more than 400 schools has shown that schools that were strong on at least three of the 5Essentials were 10 times more likely to make substantial gains in improving student reading and math than schools that were weak on three or more of the Essentials. Those differences remained true even after controlling for student and school characteristics, including poverty, race, gender, and neighborhood characteristics.

The survey was deemed an important component to balanced accountability under the state’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan by stakeholders, which resulted in state legislative changes requiring the survey annually. Principals and superintendents will receive 5Essentials Reports in March 2019. Survey results will also be reported publicly on the 5Essentials reporting site in Spring 2019 and on the State School Report Card website in Fall 2019. On behalf of the Illinois State Board of Education, UChicago Impact is providing Illinois 5Essentials to schools statewide.

Student Voice Article Published in DisruptED TV Magazine – #ASKEM

In Chapter four of our latest book Student Voice: From Invisible to Invaluable (2018 Rowman & Littlefield), Nick Polyak, PJ Caposey, and I start the chapter with the following quote from Dorothy Day: “The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us.” (page 55). In chapter four we also feature the voice of high school student Kyla Guru.

In this blog post, I am sharing an article published today that shares excerpts of the conclusion of our book and highlights the special end of chapter feature we created: ASK’EM. It’s an acronym for what we suggest throughout the book about how leaders can incorporate student voice … just “ask’em”. The letters represent Ask, Support, Know, Empower, & Monitor, and throughout the book we share examples, suggestions, calls to action, etc. that leaders (and readers) can implement to incorporate student voice in their schools, organizations, communities, and settings! At the end of our book we have a special offer from human capital management firm HUMANeX Ventures for every reader to take a free Sensory Preference Inventory™.

From the book: “Continued learning and development starts at the foundation – first understanding HOW you learn best. Having a clear understanding if you are a VISUAL, AUDITORY, or KINESTHETIC learner can greatly impact the way in which you learn and grow in your life and career.”

In future blog posts I’ll share local efforts at gaining Student Voice through the Student Engagement Survey with HUMANeX Ventures (a survey being administered to all students in our district from grades 3-8 this month). For now … here is the article just published (as always, comments are encouraged and welcomed):

DisruptED TV Magazine
Student Voice: From Invisible to Invaluable

By Michael Lubelfeld, Nick Polyak & Phillip J. ‘PJ’ Caposey

As educators we are engaged in listening every day. As superintendents we’re also engaged in leading every day. As leaders we have tested theories and approaches to systems change for many years in suburban and rural PK-12 school systems. Recently we started writing as a way to reflect, share messages of success, and in an effort to inspire others. One of our latest projects Student Voice: From Invisible to Invaluable (2018 Rowman & Littlefield) underscores the value we place on student voice in the overhaul and transformation for education in our nation. In this article we’re sharing excerpts from the preface of the book that include a call to action.

Student Voice: From Invisible to Invaluable is about why today’s leaders need to connect with students and how to accomplish true success by giving students a voice in their own education. The premise of this book is that student voice is often, for some inconceivable reason, invisible.

The failure to systematically include students and listen to their viewpoints is a contributing factor which explains why schools have changed little since the 19th Century. This book will explore many topics ranging from digital citizenship to teacher evaluation, and we sincerely believe that by leveraging the voice of students as collaborative leaders, true school and educational transformation can and will occur.

The book is based around two central questions:

● Why should today’s school leaders engage student voice from a leadership perspective as collaborators in leading?

● How can today’s school leaders engage student voice from a leadership perspective as collaborators in leading?

Core beliefs that drive this book are largely based on research. These beliefs include that the single most impactful person in a student’s learning journey is the teacher. The second most impactful is the principal (Marzano & Waters 2005). If the teacher is a manager and the principal is a leader, congruence in the approaches of engaging the student in his own learning must exist. Additionally, confidence is necessary to amplify student voice in our schools.

We submit that taking student voice from invisible to invaluable reflects the choices made by confident leaders. Leaders in the classroom (teachers) and leaders in the office (principals) and leaders in the central office (superintendents) must exist at all levels to truly listen to student voice and for school evolution and even transformation to be possible. Throughout this book, we will continually work to convince the reader of why this paradigm shift leading to an increase in student voice is necessary and give tips and techniques on how to get the work done.

Our leadership journeys allow us to test theories of leadership and put into practice beliefs, hypotheses, thoughts, and actions. While we lead with other adults and members of the typical school community: teachers, board members, administrators, and parents, we have engaged students in leadership as well. We share our successful leadership experiences and examples of making student voices invaluable in actual leadership and governance.

This transformation is truly a win-win for students and leaders. Educators must simply do two things to begin the paradigm shift necessary to take this forward. The first is easy — believe in the brilliance of your students. The second is hard — relinquish some element of control. This book will help walk you through both of these steps while focusing on precise areas of potential change within your classroom, school, or district.

EDUCATIONAL CONTEXT — Why the book is necessary

Around the nation many leaders are implementing various forms of personalized learning. The synergy between student learning and growth and teacher direction and knowledge grows exponentially when student voice is real, true, and authentic. Long gone are the days where compliance rules the priorities of teachers and schools. We will examine personalized learning and how student voice can be amplified through personalized learning environments.

Our vision is for student/learner centered systems that we’re compelled to create. As Mike and Nick wrote about in The Unlearning Leader: Leading for Tomorrow’s Schools Today (2017 Rowman & Littlefield) we all must unlearn so that we can learn and relearn — change is not an optional process.

Today’s leaders, teachers, students, pretty much all constituent stakeholder groups, must embody the 4Cs: communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity. Teaching students what it means to “be at the table” and teaching students how to think “outside of the box” opens up pathways never before seen or applied in modern school systems.

These pathways can be replicated and refined with student leadership experiences in “real life” through their schooling experiences. Student voice does not “just happen;” the success of this fundamental shift in how we ‘do school’ is dependent upon shared vision, deliberate engagement, and by teaching students how to be a part of the process. We share examples of how and why the future belongs to the students and the present-day leaders can do much to set them up for success.

With this type of engaged and partner leadership we will allow future generations to bear witness to transformed systems of schooling and society. Long gone are the days of “sage on the stage” — in order to support the “guide on the side.” Leaders can engage students and establish new norms so their input becomes invaluable. This is a call to action book for all people interested in transforming education and to improving the world.

The learning purposes and unique features of this book include:

● Establish, propose, and reinforce the “How” and the “Why” for including student voice in leadership decision making

● Provide leaders with actionable case studies and examples from the field for implementation

● Model and share new ways of incorporating authentic student voice

● Reflection questions that will generate thought and conversation around each chapter

● End of chapter feature ASK’EM, an actionable acronym, at the end of each chapter to both reinforce chapter concepts and examples as well as a call to action: Ask, Support, Know, Empower, Monitor

● Stop-Think-Act prompts, questions, problems of practice

● Commentaries and essays from students and educational leaders throughout the book. This provides additional voices on the topics on progressing with student voice from invisible to invaluable.

About the Authors

Michael Lubelfeld, Ed.D. @mikelubelfeld

Michael Lubelfeld, Ed.D.-Mike currently serves as the superintendent of schools in North Shore School District 112 in Highland Park, IL. His blog is at http://mikelubelfeld.edublogs.org/ He can be found on Twitter at @mikelubelfeld and he is the co-moderator of #suptchat — the superintendent educational chat on Twitter. He and Nick Polyak authored the 2017 Rowman & Littlefield book The Unlearning Leader: Leading for Tomorrow’s Schools Today. Mike has been married to his wife Stephanie for the past 15 years and they have two children.

Nick Polyak, Ed.D. @npolyak

Nick Polyak, Ed.D.-Nick is the superintendent of Leyden Community High School District 212 in Franklin Park, IL. He can be found on Twitter at @npolyak and he is the co-moderator of #suptchat — the superintendent educational chat on Twitter. Nick has been married to his wife Kate for the past 17 years and they have four children.

Phillip j. “PJ” Caposey @MCUSDSupe

Phillip J. “PJ” Caposey, Ed.D.-PJ is the author of three books and is a sought after speaker and consultant specializing in school culture, principal coaching, effective evaluation practices, and student-centered instruction. PJ currently serves as the Superintendent of Schools for Meridian CUSD 223 in Northwest Illinois and is married to his wife Jacquie and has four children. PJ can be reached via twitter @MCUSDSupe.

Student Voice — Why it matters #112Leads

“Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.”
– Nelson Mandela

The greatest leaders listen as their main form of communication. Over the years I have learned a great deal about listening — true listening, active listening, empathic and empathetic listening. As a superintendent I do a great deal of listening to learn and grow with internal and external stakeholders. One group to whom we must listen in schools is the student body. Students are the main “customers” in the school system. All of the decisions that are made from the boardroom to the classroom impact the lives of the students. I’ve often written and said that students have but one chance to experience each grade level—it’s incumbent upon we in leadership to make sure that their experiences are limitless and spectacular!

In this blog and through this blog I share ideas, thoughts, calls to action; I share questions, ideas and solicit feedback; I also share publications of which I have been an author, contributor or creator.

In this post I’m sharing an article recently published by DisrupteED TV Magazine on Student Voice. In it me and Nick Polyak and PJ Caposey share thoughts and excerpts from the preface of our latest book Student Voice: From Invisible to Invaluable. As always I welcome comments and suggestions for improvement!

DisruptED TV Magazine

Student Voice: From Invisible to Invaluable

By Michael Lubelfeld, Nick Polyak & Phillip J. ‘PJ’ Caposey

As educators we are engaged in listening every day. As superintendents we’re also engaged in leading every day. As leaders we have tested theories and approaches to systems change for many years in suburban and rural PK-12 school systems. Recently we started writing as a way to reflect, share messages of success, and in an effort to inspire others. One of our latest projects Student Voice: From Invisible to Invaluable (2018 Rowman & Littlefield) underscores the value we place on student voice in the overhaul and transformation for education in our nation. In this article we’re sharing excerpts from the preface of the book that include a call to action.

Student Voice: From Invisible to Invaluable is about why today’s leaders need to connect with students and how to accomplish true success by giving students a voice in their own education. The premise of this book is that student voice is often, for some inconceivable reason, invisible.

The failure to systematically include students and listen to their viewpoints is a contributing factor which explains why schools have changed little since the 19th Century. This book will explore many topics ranging from digital citizenship to teacher evaluation, and we sincerely believe that by leveraging the voice of students as collaborative leaders, true school and educational transformation can and will occur.

The book is based around two central questions:

● Why should today’s school leaders engage student voice from a leadership perspective as collaborators in leading?

● How can today’s school leaders engage student voice from a leadership perspective as collaborators in leading?

Core beliefs that drive this book are largely based on research. These beliefs include that the single most impactful person in a student’s learning journey is the teacher. The second most impactful is the principal (Marzano & Waters 2005). If the teacher is a manager and the principal is a leader, congruence in the approaches of engaging the student in his own learning must exist. Additionally, confidence is necessary to amplify student voice in our schools.

We submit that taking student voice from invisible to invaluable reflects the choices made by confident leaders. Leaders in the classroom (teachers) and leaders in the office (principals) and leaders in the central office (superintendents) must exist at all levels to truly listen to student voice and for school evolution and even transformation to be possible. Throughout this book, we will continually work to convince the reader of why this paradigm shift leading to an increase in student voice is necessary and give tips and techniques on how to get the work done.

Our leadership journeys allow us to test theories of leadership and put into practice beliefs, hypotheses, thoughts, and actions. While we lead with other adults and members of the typical school community: teachers, board members, administrators, and parents, we have engaged students in leadership as well. We share our successful leadership experiences and examples of making student voices invaluable in actual leadership and governance.

This transformation is truly a win-win for students and leaders. Educators must simply do two things to begin the paradigm shift necessary to take this forward. The first is easy — believe in the brilliance of your students. The second is hard — relinquish some element of control. This book will help walk you through both of these steps while focusing on precise areas of potential change within your classroom, school, or district.

EDUCATIONAL CONTEXT — Why the book is necessary

Around the nation many leaders are implementing various forms of personalized learning. The synergy between student learning and growth and teacher direction and knowledge grows exponentially when student voice is real, true, and authentic. Long gone are the days where compliance rules the priorities of teachers and schools. We will examine personalized learning and how student voice can be amplified through personalized learning environments.

Our vision is for student/learner centered systems that we’re compelled to create. As Mike and Nick wrote about in The Unlearning Leader: Leading for Tomorrow’s Schools Today (2017 Rowman & Littlefield) we all must unlearn so that we can learn and relearn — change is not an optional process.

Today’s leaders, teachers, students, pretty much all constituent stakeholder groups, must embody the 4Cs: communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity. Teaching students what it means to “be at the table” and teaching students how to think “outside of the box” opens up pathways never before seen or applied in modern school systems.

These pathways can be replicated and refined with student leadership experiences in “real life” through their schooling experiences. Student voice does not “just happen;” the success of this fundamental shift in how we ‘do school’ is dependent upon shared vision, deliberate engagement, and by teaching students how to be a part of the process. We share examples of how and why the future belongs to the students and the present-day leaders can do much to set them up for success.

With this type of engaged and partner leadership we will allow future generations to bear witness to transformed systems of schooling and society. Long gone are the days of “sage on the stage” — in order to support the “guide on the side.” Leaders can engage students and establish new norms so their input becomes invaluable. This is a call to action book for all people interested in transforming education and to improving the world.

The learning purposes and unique features of this book include:

● Establish, propose, and reinforce the “How” and the “Why” for including student voice in leadership decision making

● Provide leaders with actionable case studies and examples from the field for implementation

● Model and share new ways of incorporating authentic student voice

● Reflection questions that will generate thought and conversation around each chapter

● End of chapter feature ASK’EM, an actionable acronym, at the end of each chapter to both reinforce chapter concepts and examples as well as a call to action: Ask, Support, Know, Empower, Monitor

● Stop-Think-Act prompts, questions, problems of practice

● Commentaries and essays from students and educational leaders throughout the book. This provides additional voices on the topics on progressing with student voice from invisible to invaluable.

About the Authors

Michael Lubelfeld, Ed.D. @mikelubelfeld

Michael Lubelfeld, Ed.D.-Mike currently serves as the superintendent of schools in North Shore School District 112 in Highland Park, IL. His blog is at http://mikelubelfeld.edublogs.org/ He can be found on Twitter at @mikelubelfeld and he is the co-moderator of #suptchat — the superintendent educational chat on Twitter. He and Nick Polyak authored the 2017 Rowman & Littlefield book The Unlearning Leader: Leading for Tomorrow’s Schools Today. Mike has been married to his wife Stephanie for the past 15 years and they have two children.

Nick Polyak, Ed.D. @npolyak

Nick Polyak, Ed.D.-Nick is the superintendent of Leyden Community High School District 212 in Franklin Park, IL. He can be found on Twitter at @npolyak and he is the co-moderator of #suptchat — the superintendent educational chat on Twitter. Nick has been married to his wife Kate for the past 17 years and they have four children.

Phillip j. “PJ” Caposey @MCUSDSupe

Phillip J. “PJ” Caposey, Ed.D.-PJ is the author of three books and is a sought after speaker and consultant specializing in school culture, principal coaching, effective evaluation practices, and student-centered instruction. PJ currently serves as the Superintendent of Schools for Meridian CUSD 223 in Northwest Illinois and is married to his wife Jacquie and has four children. PJ can be reached via twitter @MCUSDSupe.

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