Leaders Listen


One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.
~Bryant H. McGill

Great organizations are made up of great people.  When you have great people in your organization, you listen to their feedback and you work to meet their needs. With this in mind, over the course of the past several weeks, we have engaged in listening sessions with our parents and students.

One such session was hosted by our Middle School librarian, Mrs. Steinmetz, who met with focus groups of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. The goal of these focus groups was to better learn about our students’ perceptions of how technology is being used at our school. Additionally, on Thursday evening I had the pleasure of host a parent focus group to discuss how the district is currently using technology and how we can better meet our students’ and families’ needs. These insightful groups of stakeholders engaged in a great conversation about their hopes and dreams for our schools.

After analyzing the feedback from these sessions, some themes and trends emerged. Our students clearly crave the use of reliable technology that will improve their workflow and product. In all student focus groups, kids commented on the reliability of our network and how frustrating it is when trying to use a device to watch a video but the device simply buffers, and buffers, and buffers. Our students actually used the words, “the quality of the technology takes away from our learning.” Our students commented on the desire to have constant access to devices to do work and how much more productive they would be if they had reliable devices at school and home.

Our parents, whose children ranged in age from preschool to eighth grade, also recognized the need for a robust technology program at school. We discussed the fact that parents want their children equipped with digital literacy and to develop good digital citizenship skills. This group also recognized the benefits of a device in every child’s hands. However, the group agreed (as do I) that a device is not a replacement for a high-quality teacher. Parents also want the device to enhance great teaching and learning, not simply act as a toy in the classroom. There was consensus among the group that we want students to still have face-to-face interactions with peers and teachers. Parents also want to make sure that teachers still build strong relationships with their students.

All of these expectations are reasonable, and we believe we are able to meet our students’ and our parents’ expectations. As we plan for the future of Pleasantdale, we will continue to listen to our community and make decisions that best meet their needs while moving the district forward. We seek to learn by listening, and if you ever want to provide feedback, please feel free to contact me directly. I continue to be excited about the direction in which we’re heading, and look forward to helping our students grow within our C4 (Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, and Creativity) initiative.

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