As we considered how to help schools with the challenges they face with hiring high-quality teachers and sustaining morale this year, the need for actionable data and insights was clear. Many leaders shared initiatives of surveying faculty and staff to better understand the teacher experience and support needs. We heard a need for clarity around how to use the data that has been collected.
At Folio, we are constantly thinking about how we can improve our own work using data. We believe in taking purposeful action by grounding ourselves in the “why” behind our work and emphasizing data-driven iteration. We have been working with Nate Eklund and his team at Vital Network over the past couple of years to refine our practices and consider how we can best support our members as they wrestle with complex leadership challenges around hope and burnout in their teachers and staff. Knowing the importance of designing, collecting and using data thoughtfully to support school culture, we invited Nate to co-present a webinar for our Folio schools. Among his key insights is the concept that “the survey is the beginning of the process leading to deeper understanding”, not the end game. Intentional surveying initiates an honest conversation; it provides a space for reflection and an opportunity to collaborate and dig deeper with your team. A common mistake with surveying is the feedback goes to one or two people, giving them the pressure of deciding what to do, while the people surveyed are unclear about what happened to their feedback. Rather than leaving it to the leadership team to analyze results and implement a plan, think of analysis as a culture-building opportunity.
What’s hard about sharing the results is that it requires the leader to be vulnerable in front of their teams and realize the feedback is not a personal assessment of their own leadership, but an opportunity to see the feedback as a gift and invite input for how to move forward for everyone. “We participate in what we create” – share the feedback and invite your people to help solve the challenge.
Ultimately, surveying may leave you with more questions than answers (that’s okay!). A well-designed survey provides opportunities for growth and creativity pivotal to thriving, healthy organizations. Folio will be modeling this surveying practice with our Folio Collaborative community as we release the Folio Impact Survey, a short tool we designed in partnership with Vital Network in order to gather data on how our schools are using and experiencing Folio (both the myFolio platform and the professional growth support). We are excited to report on trends of what we are hearing across the Collaborative and engage with our school leaders to learn about how we can better support them in their professional growth work.