Parents Invited to Share Their Perspective on WS/FC Schools
The Panorama Family Survey can be done online now through Friday, Oct. 11. You will find the link to the survey and access code for your school at Panorama Survey. Click on the button on the right side of the page.
By Kim Underwood
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools
SEPTEMBER 3, 2019 – If you have a child attending a Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school, people in the school system want to hear from you.
In the spring, the school system conducted its first online Panorama Family Survey. That followed earlier surveys in which teachers and students were invited to answer questions about their experiences in schools.
The answers in all of those surveys proved to be quite valuable to making positive changes, said Marty Ward – the Chief Program Officer for Research and Evaluation – and Kathy FitzJefferies – the Program Manager for Safe and Drug-Free Schools.
The Family Survey in the spring was a pilot program that included the families of students in third, seventh and tenth grade. Now the program is being expanded to include the families of all students.
In addition to parents, others who are responsible for the care of a student, such as a grandparent or guardian, are invited to participate. And both parents in a family are each welcome to fill out the survey.
The surveys – which were devised by Panorama Education – have to do with Social Emotional Academic Learning (SEAL). Within the school system, SEAL is sometimes referred to as “the heart of learning.”
Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is defined by the Collaborative for Academic, Social Emotional Learning (CASEL) as the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.
It has been shown that a warm social and emotional atmosphere is essential to academic learning.
“If you take care of the social and emotional needs, the academics will follow,” FitzJefferies said.
So the results of the surveys will be used to help people in the school system to make positive changes that encourage a good social and emotional atmosphere.
“Kathy and I are passionate about this work,” Ward said. “It is really powerful.”
The surveys have proven quite helpful.
“The project is continuing to grow exponentially,” Ward said. “Where we have come in two years is incredible.”
“The information we get from this is so rich,” FitzJefferies said.
The information has proved so valuable that a new position has been added.
“Our district SEAL (Social Emotional and Academic Learning) initiative has blossomed this past year,” FitzJefferies said. “In response to this incredible growth, we have added a new position – SEAL Program Specialist. We are grateful that Amanda Walker, who formerly worked with our Exceptional Children department, has joined our SEAL team as our SEAL Program Specialist.”
In the coming days, families can meet and talk with Walker at events for families at several schools.
She will be at Ward Elementary on Thursday, Sept. 5 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Diggs-Latham Elementary on Tuesday, Sept. 10 from 5 to 7 p.m., and Kernersville Elementary on Thursday, Sept. 19 from 6 to 8 p.m. Families are welcome to take the surveys at those events.
“My goal is to understand the importance of a family’s voice,” Walker said. “We’re really getting valuable information.”
Working with families on the importance of expressing their social and emotional voices can help parents, grandparents and guardians help their children learn to express their social and emotional voices, Walker said.
“Doing this benefits everyone,” she said. “We want to ensure that we are supporting families, students and the school in the best way possible.”
The surveys are for families who are familiar with a particular school from having – or having had – a child at the school. If a child is starting kindergarten, sixth grade or is a high school freshman, there is no need for parents to fill out the survey if they are unfamiliar with the school.
Principals of schools who have participated in earlier Panorama surveys have found them quite valuable.
Principal Becky Hodges of Flat Rock Middle School said:
"The Panorama surveys have provided some very useful insight into student’s social -emotional wellbeing and how they feel at school. I believe that the more stakeholders that participate, the more insights schools can have to help us deal with the many issues and challenges our students face today in school. Understanding is key to developing systems to address these issues. "
The family surveys, which can be completed in about 15 minutes, are anonymous.
“No one will know who they are,” Ward said.
The Panorama Family survey is available in 15 different languages including English, Spanish, Swahili and Korean.
The surveys are done online and can be accessed with a computer, smart phone or other device that provides access to the Internet. Access codes for the surveys will be provided to families by the schools or can be found online at Panorama Survey
Questions cover five topics:
Barriers to Engagement
Roles and Responsibilities
The survey includes such questions as:
“How often do you meet in person with teachers at your child’s school?”
Choices for answers would be: Almost never, Once or twice a year, Every few months, Monthly, Weekly or more.
“To what extent do you think that children enjoy going to your child’s school?”
Choices for answers would be: Do not enjoy at all, Enjoy a little bit, Enjoy somewhat, Enjoy quite a bit, Enjoy a tremendous amount.
Seven schools participated in the SEAL pilot program – four high schools – Carver, Parkland, Walkertown, Kennedy – one middle school – Philo-Hill – and two elementary schools – Cash and Petree.
In the fall of 2018, 17 more schools joined the SEAL pilot program. A survey was added for teachers and other staff members. All WS/FC schools had the option to participate.
The Panorama surveys are aligned with a number of national organizations such as the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL).
More information about The Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning is available at CASEL.
More information about Panorama is available at Panorama.