Something better than a Climate Survey


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You're listening to School Leadership Reimagined episode number 154

How do builders like us make a dramatic difference in the lives of our students in spite of all the obstacles we face? How do you keep your vision for your school from being held hostage by resistant teachers, uncooperative parents, ridiculous district policies or lack of time, money or resources. If you're facing those challenges right now, here's where you'll find the answers, strategies, and actionable tips you need to overcome any obstacle you face. You don't have to wait to make a difference in the lives of the people you serve. You can turn your school into a success story right now with the people and resources you already have. Let's get started.

Hey, builders Welcome to another episode of the school leadership reimagined podcast. I'm your host, Robyn Jackson. And today we are going to continue our series all about.

There are some very practical things that builders do to in the year strong. Now today, we're going to talk about that climate survey that you give at the end of the year to your staff, and why that may not be serving you and what you can do instead, that not only gives you really powerful information about your climate from your staff, but also positions you to heal some of those climate challenges next year.

But before we do that, a couple of things I want to talk about first I want to talk about builder's lab. Well, as I told you last time, we are over halfway sold. Now there's still some tickets left. But we're going to sell out long before the final date to get your tickets. So do not delay, you need to get your ticket.

And now someone's asking me the other day, what's the difference between builders lab and builders ship university.

They weren't sure which one to go to. And so I want to kind of clarify some of that for you now, because we also just closed our next cohort for builders ship University, and we're taking people through, we're gonna have another cohort opening up at the end of May, that's going to be the last beta cohort for builders ship University. And then we'll start opening up builders ship University for everybody starting in June. So people are trying to figure out like, should I go to builder slash I gotta build a ship University.

So let me tell you the difference. So builders lab is where you can come because you are trying to solve challenges in your current school. At Builders lab, we are really doubling down on something that we call micro slicing. And micro slicing is a technique to help you get at the root challenge in the school that you're dealing with right now, what is your root challenge, and identifying that and then developing a plan to remove that in the next 90 days. So at Build your slab, you're going to come we're going to make sure that you have a strong vision, then we're going to help you figure out what's the number one thing that's standing between you and your vision for 100% of your students right now. And we're going to show you how to remove that number one thing in the next 90 days. So builders lab is very hands on, it's intensive. And it's designed to help you get some clarity about what you're dealing with right now. Build a ship University is really a mentorship.

So in build a ship University, you're going to come in and we're going to mentor you to help you become a builder. Build a ship University is designed where we have six levels of build a ship, and we're going to mentor you through all six levels. So when you come in, you'll come in as a cohort. And then we're going to start by working on level one. And in level one, we help you build those skills that you are that help you become a builder and the thing about when you become to build a ship University, as you're becoming a builder the skills that you're building you can use in your current school, but you can take it to any school, any school that you that you're in charge of for the rest of your career, all the way up until you become a superintendent. And so with builder ship university, you are getting mentored by other builders who are helping you develop very specific skills and in a very specific order that makes the best sense for you. So yes, build a ship University will help you with your current school. But the focus is really around helping you build the skill so that you can do that in any school.

So I hope that's clarified the difference Bill builders Lab is a great place to come so you can solve an immediate challenge. Build a ship University is about developing long term set of skills and being mentored through that process. All right, so that's the first thing now builder's lab tickets are still on sale we're over halfway full we are going to fill up so make sure you get your tickets. To do that. All you need to do is go to mind steps Now builders should be University is closed the cohort is closed for now but if you want to be a part of the next cohort, go to builder ship University dot calm and sign up for the waitlist. Alright, so those are the announcements now, something really cool. 

So a couple of weeks ago, I did an episode all about exit interviews. And one of the reasons why I love the builders and builders ship university is that several of them took action on those exit interviews right away. And if you haven't listened to that episode, I really want to encourage you to go back and listen to episode 152. And you just go to 152. And go back and listen to that episode, because a lot of builders have reached out to say, Hey, I heard that episode, I did exit interviews, and their minds are just blown by all that they were able to learn by those exit interviews, things that that they didn't really understand were happening in their school things that have the potential to threaten their ability to move their schools towards their goals. And so this episode here, where we're going to talk about climate surveys, is a way to help you get even more insight.

So exit interviews are for teachers who are leaving your staff or staff members who are leaving your staff. But we also need a way to extract some of that same insight from the teachers who are staying. 

And you really can't necessarily sit down with each teacher and do an end of the year. And if you haven't, if you can, great, I applaud you. But well, you know, I'm a realist. And so that may not always be, you know, you may not always have the time, or the capacity to be able to do that. So what can you do? How do you get really good information from the teachers who are staying the staff members who are staying, and a lot of times we will resort to doing a climate survey. And, you know, when I was an administrator, we had one the district asked us to do and we kind of glanced at the data and, you know, you're looking for numbers up and down. And now, let's be honest, climate surveys don't really give you a lot of information that's actually useful for for you going forward. And there are a couple of reasons why.

The first thing is that climate surveys ask a lot of very superficial questions. And so they're asking questions that give me some insight, yeah, about like, what's happening in the school and how people are feeling, but they really don't get you down to the core of what's happening in your culture, and how you can start addressing that with your teachers, climate surveys, just don't do that for you.

The second thing is that when you get those climate survey results, the results are given to you in kind of percentages. So you know, you got you know, 4.2 out of five teachers said that, you know, you got a 4.2 out of five, on you know, whether or not teachers were happy with whatever, or they give you percentages, 70% of your teachers are happy with the current curriculum and 30% or not. And it's easy to dismiss those 30% as the people who are the people who always complain, rather than getting into what's keeping those 30% of your teachers from being on board. And so what happens is the way climate surveys are scored, you end up paying attention to a lot of the you know, like the UPS or downs, and the outliers, but it's really hard to get a full picture of what's happening in your staff. So I'm going to suggest that you do a different climate survey.

Now, if you're required by your district to do a climate survey, great do that. But in addition to that, I'm gonna suggest that you do something different. And this is not a climate survey, I'm not sure what to call it. But I guess what I'm the best I can come up with right now is, this is a great opportunity to revisit your core values, you see your core values play a big role in shaping your culture. And that's because your core values of what you and your entire staff have agreed has to be non negotiable in order for you to pursue the vision that you have for your students. So the core values are they create a baseline set of behaviors that everybody supports. And when you go through that core values process, you start to unearth a lot of hidden toxicity in your culture. And the core values help you deal with that. And then going forward, it helps you stop a lot of toxicity in your culture. Because again, when you have core values in place, and everybody has supported them, you have unanimous support, then you don't have to run around chasing, checking correcting people as much because people are holding themselves accountable to a higher set of core values.

So why not spend some time at each year revisiting those core values? 

And this does a couple of things. First of all, it gives you really good information about what's working and not working your school and where your staff is. But secondly, it also instead of giving people opportunities to complain and right, which a lot of climate surveys do, this gives people an opportunity to focus on where you are heading and what what in in getting reconnected to the values that are going to get you there. So here's what I'm proposing. If you can do this in the survey format, you can do this by, you know, one on ones with people, you can do this with your entire staff. But you're going to, you're going to sit down with people in a survey format or in a meeting. And you're going to ask a couple of really important questions.

So the first question is, you want to ask people, What are the core values of the school. Now, if they don't know your school core values, after going through the core values process, stop right there, there's your problem, it means that the core values are not prominent enough in your culture, that people know them. So I always like to ask people, What are our core values, and if people can't list them, that tells me I have a lot of work to do.

Second thing I'd like to ask is, are there any, did you encounter any circumstances this year, where you saw the core values at play? And what that does is it gives people a time to reflect on all the ways that we're either we're either reinforcing and living out our core values, or all the ways we aren't living out our core values. So leave it open, not just did we violate our core values this year? You know, I'm not going to ask that. When did you see your core values show up? When was this a situation this year, where you saw the core values bubbled to the surface, they were in play, either because we were abiding by them or relying on them, or because we violated them. And that leaves it open ended for people to kind of share that.

Then the third question I'd like to ask is, are these core values still non negotiable for you? Or is there a situation where you feel like they are negotiable? So again, I want to know, is this still something that's non negotiable? Are we are we seeing some weak spots in our core values that we didn't anticipate when we set them out. And what it does to is it helps people either double down on their commitment to those core values. And that's great, because you can hold them accountable to that commitment later on. Or it shows you that there are cracks in your core values, and you're going to need to bring your team back together to recommit to those core values.

Now, you can ask other questions as well about the core values. 

But I'd like to keep it short and give it make it open ended. So that, that people can really re examine those core values. There are so you can also ask them, you know, is there another colleague that you feel really lived up to those core values, and that's great, because then they get to nominate somebody else and celebrate somebody else. And you can use that information as a part of your ear year in celebration, to celebrate other people who are embodying that. Now, if you heard last episode, where I talked about wild moments, that you might also want to follow up this survey by giving people core value awards, and other people nominate people who really have embodied school core values this year, all of that is doing a couple of things. It's reinforcing the core values, it's bringing people together around the culture. And it's giving you really good insight about whether or not those core values are real and alive in your school.

So your job this week is this, I don't know what you have planned for how you're going to evaluate your culture this year, or how you're going to look at your climate this year. And sure, there may be other questions on the climate survey that that give you some insight and own. But usually, when you have climate surveys, most of the questions either give people an opportunity to gripe or they give you, they give you a lot of data points, but no insight.

So what I'm going to challenge you to do is on top of whatever your district is requiring you to do with with regard to climate survey, I'm going to challenge you to also spend some time designing something that ask people to revisit your core values, asking them to, to think about first of all, can they name the core values? Where have they seen those core values, you know, played out throughout the school year? Is there any thing in those core values that is no longer non negotiable for them? And if not, then, are they? Can they recommit to them? Do they still find them non negotiable? And then finally, is there somebody on your staff who has exhibited those core values, and they want to nominate and tell that story? Because now you're collecting these stories?

Remember, culture is about collective habits and the stories we tell about them. 

That's my definition of culture. And so as you are thinking about what are those collective habits that we have around core values, and asking people to think about that? And then what is what are the stories that we're telling about those core values by collecting stories of people who have embodied those core values for the year, you get not only some really powerful insight and meaningful insight into how your culture is really doing, but you also are collecting powerful stories, that as you share and amplify, you reinforce those core values even more. You see, a lot of times people don't take you seriously when you first start core values and why should they we know in school districts we are infamous for We're starting stuff and not finishing it starting stuff one year, and then abandoning it the next year.

So when you, whenever you did the core values work with your staff, you you started it, but maybe you've gotten away from it, maybe you haven't spent as much time on core values as you wanted to, because other stuff has come up. If you can use this opportunity at the end of the year to revisit those core values, you send people into the summer thinking about the right thing, the core values, you give people an opportunity to reflect on what's really important for your school to move forward core values. And you'll get powerful insight into what work you need to be doing next, to reinforce those core values to make sure that they become embedded in your in your culture.

So my challenge for you this week, is to design an opportunity to revisit those core values. 

Now, before we go, I know a lot of you may be thinking about well, what I don't have core values, how do I go through the core values process. So we have a couple of resources for you. The first is if you go to build a ship,, and you get a free membership inside of builder ship University, we have an e book that lays out the core values process step by step. I mean, this is exactly what our builders inside of builder, ship University in the insider level who are in that mentorship are using to develop core values in their schools. And you can access that absolutely free. So just go to builder ship And you can join the free tier at any time. So you don't have to wait for a cohort, you can join that, that that free or the BU basic level at any time, and download that ebook and get started with core values right away.

 And then if you want to be mentored through the core values process, then you need to join the next cohort builder ship university, because that's one of the first things we do in the first 90 days you develop your vision, you then you we show you how to facilitate the mission conversation so that you develop a strong mission, we show you how to facilitate that core values conversation with your staff so that you come out of that conversation with strong core values. And then we show you how to start looking at your school and getting everything aligned to your vision, mission and core values. And all of that happens in the first 90 days. So we're going to be opening up a new cohort in a couple of weeks at the end of May. And if you want to be a part of that, go to build a and then join the waitlist for the next cohort. Alright, so that's it for today. I can't wait to hear the success stories that you're going to be telling me about how you've had these meaningful and powerful conversations around your core values by revisiting them at the end of the year. And that's how you do more than a climate survey. Like a builder.

I'll talk to you next time.

Hey, if you're ready to get started being a builder right away, then I want to invite you to join us at builder ship University. It's our exclusive online community for builders just like you where you'll be able to get the exact training that you need to turn your school into a success story right now with the people and resources you already have. Inside you'll find our best online courses, live trainings with me tons of resources, templates and exemplars and monthly live office hours with me where you can ask me anything and get my help on whatever challenge you're facing right now. If you're tired of hitting obstacle after obstacle and you're sick of tiny little incremental gains each year, if you're ready to make a dramatic difference in your school right now, then you need to join buildership University. Just go to buildership and get started writing your school success story today.

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