Friday, October 25, 2013

Listen & Learn Tour: Get Your Thoughts In!

Dr. Jeanice Swift's Listen & Learn Tour is continuing. She is only about 1/3 of the way through.

If you can make it to one of the meetings (even if it's not "your" school, and even if you are a taxpayer without kids in school), please go. All meetings are from 6:30 p.m.-8 p.m.

If you can't make it to a meeting, there is a survey that you can take. Here it is.

[Even better--at the bottom of this page there are links so you can take the survey in Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Spanish!]

And by the way, Dr. Swift has a blog. I really liked this excerpt from her blog*, about the listening tour:
Top-performing organizations are characterized by their willingness to seek input and their effectiveness in leveraging feedback to improve processes and outcomes. Successful teams prioritize what they hear from their ‘customers’ to improve their work; they specialize in continuous improvement of service to stakeholders.
Exactly what I've been saying for years. (I love it when people agree with me!)

And if you've been to one of the meetings, please share your experiences with us in the comments. What was it like? Did you feel like Dr. Swift, and others, were listening?

Monday, Oct. 28: Eberwhite
Tuesday, Oct. 29: Huron
Wednesday, Oct. 30: Wines
Monday, Nov. 4: Haisley
Wednesday, Nov. 6: Logan
Thursday, Nov. 7: Pioneer
Monday, Nov. 11: Community
Tuesday, Nov. 12: Burns Park
Thursday, Nov. 14: Thurston
Monday, Nov. 18: Tappan
Tuesday, Nov. 19: Lakewood
Thursday, Nov. 21: Northside
Monday, Nov. 25: Lawton
Monday, Dec. 2: King
Tuesday, Dec. 3: Roberto Clemente
Wednesday, Dec. 4: Dicken
Thursday, Dec. 5: Skyline
Monday, Dec. 9: Clague
Tuesday, Dec. 10: Pittsfield
Thursday, Dec. 12: A2 Tech
*Really, it's less like a blog and more like a column in AAPS News, but that's o.k.


  1. Dr. Swift came to Ann Arbor Open and met with the staff last Wednesday, and then again on Thursday evening to meet with parents. I attended both meetings and I felt they were both great. Staff and parents were given the four questions and had time to discuss at table groups, then shared with the whole group. There were definitely some common themes (too much testing, budget issues, class size). Dr. Swift was very attentive and receptive to all the comments being made. The fact that she is taking the time to meet with each individual school's staff and parent community is amazing. I am feeling optimistic about her.

  2. I also attended the session at Ann Arbor Open. I was impressed by her sincerity and willingness to listen. And she seems to 'get' AAO parents. I was one of the recorders who captured comments, so I didn't get to fully participate in all four 'steps' but it was an interesting (and organized) process. It was nice to hear a wide range of things to celebrate (the step I was recording), and hear people focused on ways to improve. I do fear that the "prioritize" step just ended up as another laundry list with no real priorities.

    That said, they left with all the recorded comments (tagged with school name). She said they have a graduate student (maybe multiple?) who is going to be analyzing the comments that were made in order to find emerging themes, etc. I also found that impressive - that they were reaching out to find someone with expertise to make sense of the mass of data they must be collecting. And maybe they will end up with an actionable and shorter list of priorities.

    One thing that some people might find off-putting: there was a certain amount of squishy jargon and flowery language. I can't think of a specific example right now, but if someone came in already suspicious of her, they might hear that as 'happy talk' just trying to ward off detractors. I suspect it's just the way she talks and that she is truly sincere, but I worry that some may not see it that way.

    It would be interesting to attend at a different school and see if it has a very different vibe. I suppose there's still time!

  3. I attended the session with the Bryant-Pattengill community, and was similarly impressed. It presented a really important opportunity for members of our school community to talk about district issues as well as some of the unique challenges (and opportunities) that come from being the only paired school in the district. Superintendent Swift seemed to be sincerely interested in learning from the people in the room. She stated that they planned to organize the information and report back to the community. I am very interested to see how this information is shared back.