Do you know what they think?

Posted by Brenda Yoho

We live in a society where we are always seeking others' thoughts, or are we? Do we want to know? Will we change anything based on what they tell us? We enjoy seeing that like on a post we make on social media!

We know what we believe, and it is the truth for us. Our beliefs and values are what we work hard to stand up for daily. As we work in our organization, we do the same but add a layer to deliver a service to those we serve.

The delivery of the service takes input from the customers receiving the service. Addressing solutions always begins with conversations and input from those involved. Every time I visit one of my doctors or a healthcare facility, I receive a survey by phone to answer questions about the service provided. I believe more and more companies and organizations are seeking input from customers on how to continue to improve their services.

As teachers and administrators, do you think about the need for feedback? Evaluations are completed, but are we getting direct feedback from those we serve daily? Are we getting feedback from our colleagues?

A group of students came to talk to me one day in my office. I gathered them around my conference table. They were already well trained in my problem-solution-based system. They began with their stated problem. “Mrs. Yoho, we believe our teacher is racist.”

What facts do you have for this problem? Because you know I do not see this in any of the staff members.

“She acts differently when you come by or are in the room. She picks on kids of color. The other kids can get up without her saying anything. She is constantly nagging on us.”

I listened to all of their concerns. I knew there had to be a misunderstanding, but these are real feelings. A change had to happen because even if the teacher was not racist, the students perceived her to be. How would you respond?

I talked with the teacher, and I told her I did not think she was racist. However, some of the students believed she was. I told her of a time I was accused of the same thing. This helped in our conversation.

When I was accused, my first reaction was anger. I was mad. How in the world could anybody think that about me? Then I settled down and took some time to reflect. Have I allowed them to get to know me? Have I had the opportunity to get to know them? We do not know each other, so it is easy to misunderstand if we do not know.

Start using feedback tools to help understand how you can improve, what is working, what is easy and difficult. You can do a SurveyMonkey poll, do quick post-its to stick on the door on the way out, put up posters with prompts kids can vote on, and so many other ideas!

Acquiring information is the key to improving, focusing on what kids need, and turning problems into solutions. I often said, “We don't know what we don't know.” I had some staff members puzzled by some of the crazy things I said until they found themselves in a situation like this. We don't know what we don't know until we know, and then we need to know more!

Everyone has a story. Learn the stories and share yours. Gather all of the feedback you can to continue improving, adjusting, and serving the best you can. We all need you!

"I only have 2 rules!"
© 2023 Brenda Yoho
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