What I Learned From 67 Home Visits

Education is a profession built on relationships.  The better we create relationships with our students and families, the better we will be in supporting them.

Moving to a new school district (Hudsonville) put me in a spot where I didn’t know as many names, faces, and stories as I did after 18 years in Cedar Springs.  A couple months ago I decided to try something I’ve never done before to address that.  I sent a welcome video to all the parents of our soon to be 3rd-graders.  In that video, I offered to visit them at their home in August prior to the first day of school.  I shared that my purpose was simply to get to know them, talk with them, and start a relationship prior to open house.

I had done some home visits as a teacher, but never to a large group as a principal.  Our school is an upper elementary that houses grades 3-5, so I started with 3rd-graders, as they would be new to our school.  Later in the summer, I also extended that offer to students of new download.jpgfamilies to our district.  I wish I could say it was a well-organized and tactical approach, but it wasn’t.  I simply sent out a google doc to all 100+ families and they signed up with on a day and time (between 4-9 pm), their child’s name, parent names, and address.  67 people signed up and I made 67 home visits in a 2+ week stretch.

Here’s a little summary of 5 main things I discovered.

1. People were very appreciative that I made the visit

Over and over again I was thanked for taking the time to stop at their house.  Some were shocked, others surprised, but universally appreciative.  I hope this has set the tone that our school is willing to go above and beyond to develop a relationship with their family.  Most 8-11-year-old kids still think their principal is cool!  That was fun to hear.  We have a lot of school of choice students and their parents make long drives to get their kids to our school every day.  That was humbling.    

2. I learned some things about kids I may not have learned in their 3 years at our school.

One of the things I asked each and every student was, “tell me something about yourself that not a lot of people know or is special/unique about you.”  The things they said and items they showed me gave me a perspective into their lives that I might have otherwise not gained.  I’ll never forget the one student who showed me the birthmark of a heart on her hand and told me her mom says, “it’s a kiss from God.”  I will remember the student who showed me an inactive grenade from WWII and how it led to our discussion about his love for history.  I would’ve never guess one student could put her tongue to her nose, a kid fessed up to farting a lot, and we have a couple of future chefs in the group.  I now have specific conversation topics for so many kids as they begin school.

3. Parents shared with me questions about our school and ways we might be able to grow in their eyes.

I asked each parent:

– What is something our school system is doing well that you’d like us to continue?

– What questions, worries, or concerns do you have about this upcoming year?

– What is something you’d appreciate more of, or differently, from our school system?

I’ve asked those questions before in my office, classroom, or hallway.  But when I asked it to them in their living room, I believe I got more honesty and transparency.  That gave me great insight into what is important to some families and not as much to others.

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4. I learned the stories of so many families.

We are getting a lot of 3rd-graders who are the oldest child in their family.  That speaks to the number of youngsters we have all around Jamestown!  We have so many families who have been in their homes for less than 3 years.  That directly reflects in us being one of the largest growing townships in the state of Michigan.  I know about some challenges families have had, many of their celebrations, and more about where their family is in the journey of life at this time.  Knowing those stories will help us to develop trust, collaboration, and bonds with so many of them.

5. ALL parents want their child to succeed in school.

As educators, sometimes we make the mistake and form assumptions about parents based on small pieces of information.  We think because they don’t help with homework, they don’t care or because they don’t show up for conferences, the school carnival, or the walkathon, they don’t want their child to be successful.  That’s simply not true.  I walked into homes of every socioeconomic status you could imagine and every single one of them cared deeply about the success of their child at school.  I admit that they are armed with different tools, skills, and strategies to support their child at school, but they all care.

Yes, I drove around in circles for a couple weeks.  I got lost a few times.  People noticed me and wondered why I kept driving thru their neighborhood.  I was pretty tired when I hit the pillow those nights (having July off doesn’t prep you well for 14 hour days).  But, to be honest, I’m really excited to do this again next year!  I have ideas on how to find my way into homes that didn’t signup this year.  I am going to leave something about our school with each family when I stop.  It’s just one step along the way of trying to live up to the phrase, “If you are going to be unlike any other school, you have to be willing to do things other schools won’t.” 

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If You Are Going to Be Unlike Any Other School, You Have to Be Willing to Do Things Other Schools Won’t

I’m sure you’ve read variations of this quote before. As we head into the 2018-2019 school year, this quote came to me, has stuck in my mind, and isn’t going away.

“If you are going to be unlike any other school, you have to be willing to do things other schools won’t”

It’s not about competition. It’s not about being “better” than another school, as I’m not sure how you measure “better” anyway.

It is about growing. It is about better serving the needs of our students, staff, and families. It most certainly is about changing things in education that keep up with the needs of today’s society. Some of it comes down to what you are willing to sacrifice, what risks will you take, and getting a team of people to do that together. Our students, staff, and families don’t deserve ordinary. They deserve extraordinary. To achieve extraordinary status you have to perform extraordinary acts.

I’m sometimes asked about what our school theme is for the year. People want to know what is the pitch, marketing slogan, brand, that we will work towards.

This year, it’s not necessarily a theme, but more of a mindset. Maybe even a challenge. 

“If you are going to be unlike any other school, you have to be willing to do things other schools won’t”

That’s the challenge. I issue it to you, to me, to educators everywhere. As you plan, look into the school year and think about that statement.  Look at it from a school perspective, as a principal, a teacher, a teaching team, a grade level, a department. What things are you doing that others aren’t?  What would be on YOUR list? Next, what impact is that having on students, families, staff? How can you continue to provide it and even improve it? From there, how can you grow your list? When you look back on the school year, what will be on that list? What was added this year? Your list may contain some things that you have done before combined with some that are completely new.  

I’ve always been enamored with chasing greatness. I’ve read, studied, thought, and perseverated on what it takes to be great in so many walks of life. One of the ways to make progress in that pursuit is to do things that others simply won’t do.  I’m certain of that. As this school year begins, that’s where my focus lies. 

“If you are going to be unlike any other school, you have to be willing to do things other schools won’t”

Two Practices I Encourage You to Change in Your Elementary School

Changing traditional thinking and practices in our school system isn’t always easy.  In my 20 years in elementary education, I’ve stumbled across two practices that I think would help students and staff if they were changed.

For some background, I worked for 10 years in a PreK-1st-grade building, four years in a 2nd-3rd-grade building, four years in a 4th-5th building, and the last two in a building that houses students in grades 3rd-5th. The first of these two things is more suited to upper elementary while the second I believe applies to all elementary schools.

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 1. Traditional practicePlacing a student on a class list and leaving them in that class for the next nine months no matter what. I know that we all have great practices in place when developing class lists. So much time, effort, and thought goes into creating balanced class lists. We code students based on behavior, academics, and other needs. We consider personality matches between student and teacher. Hours and hours of thought and our very best work goes into class lists. Having said that, is it really possible we bat 100% on those predictions? Is it possible there might be a better match for a student than the one we hypothesized in the spring? We certainly know that a new mix of kids can lead to students displaying different behaviors than the previous year. That doesn’t even take into account move in students and how they impact the classroom dynamic.

1. My thinkingBe willing to make changes! Just because you put a student’s name next to a teacher’s name last May shouldn’t mean the student HAS TO stay in that classroom for nine months. We sometimes fear the impact on the student and the stigma of moving classrooms. When doing so, we underestimate the resilience of kids. We underestimate that the fresh start might be exactly what THEY want. One possibility is to transparently share with parents that your school will be looking at class lists in October and again at the holiday break to see if adjustments need to be made. What stops you from having a student spend 1/4 of the year in each of the four classrooms in the grade if change is a positive for them? In my experience, exploring a move only applies to 5-10% of students in any given grade. But if we can improve the school year for a handful of children, isn’t it worth it?  In my experience, when we have been able to get the student, parent, current teacher, and new teacher all on board with the move, we have had really positive results.

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2. Traditional practiceKeeping teachers in the same grade level even if the chemistry within the grade level isn’t great. I get that we aren’t big on change in education. I know the merits of learning a curriculum inside and out and how that positively impacts the instruction delivered. There was a time where teachers could shut their door and teach. That time is over. Collaboration is better and more frequent than at any time in the history of education. Because of that, the chemistry, collaboration, and working relationship within a grade level must be better than it’s ever been.

2. My thinking Be willing to move your staff around to find the right mix. First and foremost, I’m not talking about moving teachers against their wishes. I’m not talking about moving ineffective or minimally effective teachers. I’m talking about teachers who could be even better when on a team that fits their needs. I think the business world has this right.  People are moved to new desks, different teams, various departments, relatively often. We can learn from that. I encourage principals to look at the strengths of their individuals, the mix of their teams, and be willing to make changes that will allow grade levels to be better than they’ve ever been before. 

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10 Ways Principals Need to Support Teachers

I am now 9 years removed from the classroom. I am very aware of that amount of time and the impact it can have on a building principal. Some of the most common errors I believe that building principals make, myself included, stem from times when they are out of touch with what is really happening in the classroom. If a principal is asking a teacher to put up learning targets, essential questions, and success criteria, along with shaking every student’s hand, monitoring the hallways, checking their email, responding to parent phone calls, and having a “hook” ready between each class period or subject, I’d suggest they may be out of touch.

How do I best combat that? I talk to teachers. Lots of teachers. I listen. During the school year, I try to get the pulse of our staff consistently. I work to create a culture where teachers can come to me and say, “Andy, that’s asking too much” or “that’s not realistic.” Not to whine or complain, and not all the time, but when they truly feel like it doesn’t make sense. In the summer, I have friends who are still teachers all across the state. I listen to them. I ask about their celebrations and challenges. That allows me to reflect and make sure I’m in tune with what life is like in the trenches for a teacher in 2018. download.jpg

All of that leads me to this list. As with every blog post I’ve ever written, there are items on this list that I feel like I’m really good at and there are also major growth areas. I’m sure my staff could identify them quickly! There are many aspects to being a principal, but supporting staff in a way that allows them to be their best, ranks very high on the list. If I’m doing these 10 things, I’m well on my way to doing just that.

1. Become an expert at the teacher evaluation processIt’s the #1 complaint I hear from teachers. It must be a collaborative growth model. If it’s to check a box, or based on 2-3 classroom stops a year, or provides summative and not formative feedback, it’s not going to go well. Make sure teachers see it as worthwhile time spent to reflect, collaborate, and improve their practice.

2. Build the why togetherIt’s not about my vision alone. It’s about our vision, a shared vision. Whether it’s a mission statement or not is irrelevant. Make sure your focus is clear and work done directly aligns to it.

3. Handle discipline collaboratively. I will NEVER understand the model of kid does something wrong, the teacher sends them to the office, the principal assigns punishment, life goes on. Speak to the people who know that child best, their parents and the teacher. Don’t be in a huge hurry. Coming up with the best restorative practices and/or clear consequences is what is most important. Using more than one brain when doing so has helped me in many ways.

4. No job is too small or too big for the principal – Be willing to do just about anything when the situation calls for you to do it. There is no real job description for the principal position. You must make the really tough, big decisions.  In addition, you might need to clean puke, wipe tables, give a hug, pick up trash on the playground, whatever it takes. Model for everyone that it’s “we” when it comes to all components that help run the school

5. Give grace / Don’t sweat the small stuff – Your teacher has been early to school for 140 straight days. They are late for understandable circumstances. Don’t write them up. Teachers are people. They make mistakes. Have open and honest conversations about how you can help. 1 teacher responds to an email inappropriately. Don’t fire off an email to the entire staff about the appropriate use of email. Have a conversation with that staff member. Give grace, remember the big picture, build trust, support people.images.jpg

6. Family first. Always – Don’t just say it. Live it. Make sure that your staff WANTS you to take care of the needs of their family first. That allows them to be the best employee possible. Don’t make them feel guilty for leaving on Friday at 4:00. Encourage that healthy balance between school and home which decreases teacher burnout.

7. Be transparent about your weaknesses/mistakes. In addition, share your plan to do something about it – Show that you are human. When you make a mistake, own it. If there is a part of your practice that is not what it needs to be, share that. But also let people know of your plan of action to make that better. 

8. Provide valuable PD – #2 complain behind the teacher evaluation process that I get from teachers is that PD is not impactful on their practice. You aren’t just the instructional leader, you are the lead instructor and facilitator. The learning experience you provide should match what you expect teachers to provide for students. Engagement, relevance, collaboration, thinking, application. That simple.

9. Treat everyone with respect, in every situation, every day – That includes the parent or student who is “F-bombing” you. When you set that example for others in your building, it’s an easy one to follow. Every parent, student, staff member, or guest who walks into your school is one that you can show respect towards.  

10. Be the loudest cheerleader for positives happening in individual classrooms, grade levels, and the entire school – This allows you to “have people’s back.” Remarkable things are happening in each classroom, each day. Scream those from the mountaintop in whatever way you can. George Couros puts nails it when he puts it this way:

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Well, there’s my 10. As I reflect, I think I am on the right track in 5 of them. At least 2 I’m brutally average and 3 I really need to do a better job of. Supporting your staff in whatever way they need it, which allows them to be their best, directly impacts students every day.

Was This School Year a Success? 5 Questions to Ask Yourself As the School Year Ends

The first few weeks after school ends are a great time to reflect upon the past year. For me, I often need a structure, a coaching conversation, or specific questions posed to engage in reflection that truly impacts my work.  Here are a few that have supported my thinking as either a teacher or principal over the past couple years.

1. Can you think of the names of 5 kids that NEEDED you this year and you were there for them?  What did you provide that had such a huge impact?

2. What specific staff members did you play a role in supporting this year and how did you do it?

3. What 3 parts of your practice did you improve upon?

4. What did you do to positively impact the culture of your school?

5. What is something about your craft that you didn’t make the strides that you hoped to? What is your action plan to address that for next year?

Take a moment. Consider those questions. Even write down your answers. They may lead to some specific next steps or you may tuck them away and revisit in August.

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Youth Basketball: What is Your Purpose?

I’ve found myself in a lot of conversations lately about different philosophies surrounding developing youth basketball players. Some of those have centered around “The HUD,” a new travel basketball team starting here in Hudsonville. Having been at the Ludington Gus Macker this past weekend, I’m always talking hoops with current coaches, past coaches, active parents, and basketball junkies. 

For those of you that might not know much of my past, I’m going to state some of it here.  When you are going to talk about something like this, whatever your “basketball resume” looks like, should matter. The time and effort you’ve put into the kids and the game should matter. I’m not going to comment on football or baseball, as I simply haven’t played or coached the game at a high enough level to comment intelligently.

* I’ve coached basketball at some level for the past 21 seasons.  14 of those years were at the varsity level including 12 seasons as the head coach. I was fortunate enough to be around good enough coaches and players to win over 15 championships and helped to put kids at the D1, D2, D3, NAIA, and JuCo level. I’ve coached both local and club travel teams.  I was responsible for designing the drills, structures, practices, and development of players in our youth program (grades 3-6) for over a decade. As a parent, I’ve had both of my kids (one is 14 and the other is 11) play on all levels of teams in an out of season.

Recently, I’ve heard and observed debates between parents about “what is right” when it comes to different choices they have for their young basketball player. A discussion turns heated when talking about AAU or local travel teams. Strong opinions are shared regarding which summer camp to go to, the organization to play with, tournaments to enter,  and whether or not playing in a Macker is good or bad. When we talk about our kids, it tends to be intense. However, I think people are missing a pressing question that should be discussed before even word one is uttered,

“What is the purpose of youth basketball for your child?”

Before you even get into stating your opinion, to which you are sure you have the “right” answer, be sure to answer that question. Have both parents answer it. My guess is the person you are engaged in this heated conversation with, has a completely different purpose for what youth basketball holds for their child. That doesn’t mean you are right or he is wrong, it’s just a different purpose and end game for you both.images-1.jpg

I think you can break down the purposes that parents have for youth basketball into these 8 things.

1. Get the kid a college scholarship

2. Become a better person through sports

3. Improve their individual skills to become a better player

4. Learn to #PTRW (Play The Right Way)

5. Have fun

6. Compete at the highest level against the best competition

7. Receive the best possible coaching

8. Play with kids from their school to develop a bond/chemistry towards high school

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Don’t get me wrong, it can be more than one.  I think it’s near impossible to do all 8 and even parents that I’ve seen try, they have to prioritize some over others.

For my 11-year-old son, I can share my priorities for him very quickly and those are (in order) #2, 3, 7, 4, 8, and 5.  That doesn’t mean that 1 and 6 aren’t important. But it’s very unlikely he will play the next level. If he gets a whole lot better, 1 and 6 increase in importance as he moves into high school. Therefore, a parent who has #1 and #6 at the top of their list, is going to have a different purpose for youth basketball than I am and that’s OK. But we aren’t going to see things the same way. Because of my past experience and where my kids are as players, this is how my list looks.

– #2 is important because nothing is more important than my son becoming a great person. Sports run out at some point and the type of impact you have on the world is what matters most.

– #3 matters because you have to optimize skill development. Players get better at practice and during individual work when no one is looking. Just playing 100 games a year doesn’t make you better. It’s what you do when no one is watching and how you attack the weaknesses to your game that makes you better.

– #7 can make or break the sports experience for young kids. Having a quality coach who teaches, motivates, and inspires kids to be their best, can light that spark. Coaches who don’t measure their acumen by mythical 4th-grade championships but instead the development of their team and individuals, are harder to find than you might think.

– #4 ties directly to 7. Kids who play the right way know what to do when they don’t have the ball, make the extra pass, dive for loose balls, take charges, are coachable, and great teammates. My son needs to be taught what to do when he doesn’t have the ball on offense or defense. He doesn’t need to learn 75 combination dribble moves in 1 on 1 skill sessions with individual trainers. There doesn’t need to be 5 James Harden clones on an 11-year-old team. There is one ball on the court at a time. The other 4 players serve an important purpose when they don’t have it and need to be taught what to do when they don’t. That is tragically missing from today’s youth basketball experience. My son needs to know when to space, when to screen, when to get in position to rebound, when to be down and ready to shoot. He also needs to learn proper shooting form and rep that out so he can make shots. That way, when the kid with 75 dribble moves keeps shooting bricks because all he does is practice 4 different euro steps that he can’t finish instead of repping out jumpers, someone can put the ball in the hole. On defense, he needs to know what to do when his man doesn’t have the ball, when to be in a gap, in deny, how to communicate, all the things that make up great team defense. If he’s going to play the right way he has to give up his body for the team, whether that’s taking a charge or diving for a loose ball. He better listen to his coach, respect the officials, and understand that the team is always bigger than him. Get out of your selfish individualized bubble and see when your teammates need a pat on the back or a pep talk.  #4 matters a lot.

– #8 carries weight because you are developing a band of brothers with the kids you will play with in high school. There is something special about playing for the name on the FullSizeR.jpgfront of your jersey. You get one chance in your life to play for your hometown but that strong belief likely comes from 30 years around public schools. Developing a trust and camaraderie with those other kids takes thousands of hours in practices, games, and tournaments. That doesn’t mean you can’t play AAU. I believe you can certainly do both.

– #5 means something. Having fun is important. But hard work isn’t always fun. Getting better is fun. Practices and drills, games where you get beat up, let’s not act like it’s all fun.

I think most of the time parents have the best interest of their child in mind. I’m certainly not going to mock, demean, or scrutinize how another parent might prioritize their list. That would be small and narrow-minded. Before you get knee deep in a debate over youth basketball next time, make sure to ask that question first.

“What is the purpose of youth basketball for your child?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Principals: Survey Your Stakeholders to End the Year

As the school year winds down, I begin to solicit feedback by sending surveys to staff and parents.  I ask them about the performance of our school and also my work.  The first couple of years as an administrator, I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing such a thing.  I’m not sure I was confident enough in my role and I was probably nervous about the kind of feedback I’d receive!  Looking back, I wish I would’ve had a formal structure to get the thinking from others that would allow me to improve as a principal.  Since I’ve started doing this, it’s been very helpful to sit back on a June day when the students are gone and see our school through a different lens.  It makes me consider different perspectives and possibilities.download.jpg

By administering these surveys, I hope to send the message that I welcome the thinking of others, that I have a growth mindset and a burning desire to get better at my job, and that their voice matters.  With the data, I make an action plan of how I will address the issues that surface.  I also share the results and/or the action plan with the people who took the time to fill out the survey so they can see some of the summative results.

Below are the surveys that I sent to parents and staff last week.  I have tweaked them over the years based on how often I have been in the building, areas of focus for our school, or specific thinking I was hoping to receive.  I use SurveyMonkey because it’s free, easy, and anonymous.  If you need a format, feel free to use or adjust these as you’d like.

 

1. How would you rate Andy’s effectiveness as a principal this year?

Highly Effective
Effective
Minimally Effective
Ineffective

2. Andy has helped to create a positive culture at JU for staff

Strongly Agree
Agree
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

3. Andy has helped to create a positive culture for students at JU

Strongly Agree
Agree
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

4. I feel “valued and appreciated” by Andy

Strongly Agree
Agree
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

5. JU has a collaborative culture with shared ownership and voice

Strongly Agree
Agree
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

6. JU is an enjoyable place to work

Strongly Agree
Agree
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

7. I see Andy’s areas of strength as:

8. Areas I think Andy can improve are:

9. Areas of strength for Jamestown Upper are…

10. Areas of growth for Jamestown Upper are…

1. The curriculum my child is learning matches what they need as a learner

Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree
The curriculum my child is learning matches what they need as a learner
The curriculum my child is learning matches what they need as a learner Strongly Disagree
The curriculum my child is learning matches what they need as a learner Disagree
The curriculum my child is learning matches what they need as a learner Neutral
The curriculum my child is learning matches what they need as a learner Agree
The curriculum my child is learning matches what they need as a learner Strongly Agree

2. The instruction my child received this year was effective

Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree
The instruction my child received this year was effective
The instruction my child received this year was effective Strongly Disagree
The instruction my child received this year was effective Disagree
The instruction my child received this year was effective Neutral
The instruction my child received this year was effective Agree
The instruction my child received this year was effective Strongly Agree

3. I received timely and accurate information about my child’s academic and social/emotional progress

Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree
I received timely and accurate information about my child’s academic and social/emotional progress
I received timely and accurate information about my child’s academic and social/emotional progress Strongly Disagree
I received timely and accurate information about my child’s academic and social/emotional progress Disagree
I received timely and accurate information about my child’s academic and social/emotional progress Neutral
I received timely and accurate information about my child’s academic and social/emotional progress Agree
I received timely and accurate information about my child’s academic and social/emotional progress Strongly Agree

4. I feel like my child is safe at Jamestown

Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree
I feel like my child is safe at Jamestown
I feel like my child is safe at Jamestown Strongly Disagree
I feel like my child is safe at Jamestown Disagree
I feel like my child is safe at Jamestown Neutral
I feel like my child is safe at Jamestown Agree
I feel like my child is safe at Jamestown Strongly Agree

5. Being bullied is a problem for my child at Jamestown

Always Sometimes Neutral Rarely Never
Being bullied is a problem for my child at Jamestown
Being bullied is a problem for my child at Jamestown Always
Being bullied is a problem for my child at Jamestown Sometimes
Being bullied is a problem for my child at Jamestown Neutral
Being bullied is a problem for my child at Jamestown Rarely
Being bullied is a problem for my child at Jamestown Never

6. The principal is effective in his role as the building leader

Ineffective Not yet effective Neutral Effective Highly Effective
The principal is effective in his role as the building leader
The principal is effective in his role as building leader Ineffective
The principal is effective in his role as building leader Not yet effective
The principal is effective in his role as building leader Neutral
The principal is effective in his role as building leader Effective
The principal is effective in his role as building leader Highly Effective

7. The Jamestown staff cares about my child

Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree
The Jamestown staff cares about my child
The Jamestown staff cares about my child Strongly Disagree
The Jamestown staff cares about my child Disagree
The Jamestown staff cares about my child Neutral
The Jamestown staff cares about my child Agree
The Jamestown staff cares about my child Strongly Agree

8. My biggest PRAISE and/or THING TO CHANGE for Jamestown would be…

9. Share anything about the principal’s work you do appreciate or don’t appreciate

10. Any additional information about Jamestown or your child’s 2017-2018 school year that you’d like to share

 

Next year, I’d like to extend the surveys to our students.  While I do exit interviews with each 5th-grader, I have not surveyed them in the past.  If you have student surveys you use with elementary students, please share those with me.

Best wishes on the final weeks of school with your students.  Enjoy all the end-of-the-year moments, smile, laugh, and be grateful to be part of the greatest profession in the world.download.jpg