KO’s dynamic classroom environment and engaging community have bred opinionated students. From the new schedule to more simplistic changes on campus, students often find ways to give meaningful feedback to the school. However, the response to these suggestions is not always as effective as it should be.
That’s not to say the school doesn’t make an effort to hear students out; when making decisions regarding the hiring of new teachers, there has often been student input on candidates for the job. Students will be selected to ask a variety of questions to a prospective candidate and have an authentic dialogue. After this meeting, students will complete a form rating each candidate in a variety of areas.
This feedback is successful because it directly engages students with the future of KO. By providing commentary for candidates, KO students can feel like they are making a difference in their community and their education.
Additionally, the school asks for feedback even regarding teachers who are established members of the community. At the end of the first semester every year, students take online, anonymous surveys for each of their teachers, describing what the teacher does that is conducive to their ability to learn, and what they feel can be improved in the next semester.
Teachers are required to take the survey results into account, after having all survey answers and comments compiled into a document by Director of Teaching and Learning Heidi Hojnicki. Overall, this form of feedback vastly depends on the commitment demonstrated by the students, specifically if they leave comments explaining their answers.
Despite this effective way of compiling student feedback, these considerations are often pushed aside in athletics. In the past years, student athletes have been unable to leave anonymous feedback for their coaches. However, this past fall, surveys were sent out to some athletic teams to evaluate their experience. This practice was seemingly abandoned for the winter season, as no similar survey was conducted.
Generally, students want to give their perspectives on matters that impact their day-to-day life at KO. The limited options to give feedback, however, affect this process. A clear example of this can be found in the SGA: Although Student Government is meant to be driven by students’ voice regarding what goes on at school, there is a general consensus that SGA doesn’t do much to address student’s wants or needs throughout the school year other than planning the occasional dance.
Their inactivity is most likely not for lack of trying; SGA has a Google Form that allows students to submit any complaints, compliments, or suggestions they might have. The Google Form is helpful, and should, in theory, help increase student input at KO. However, it’s posted on the Daily Bulletin, which most students don’t regularly check, know how to find, or simply can’t be bothered to scroll through the pages upon pages of information.
Inaccessibility is one of the greatest challenges to addressing the lack of communication between students and faculty, and something that needs to be addressed if we as a community wish to have more open, meaningful dialogues.
KO needs to provide more opportunities for students to advocate for the issues they believe need to be addressed on campus. For instance, in the State of School address, Head of School Tom Dillow discusses the strategic vision for the school in upcoming years. We encourage KO to look for ways to incorporate student’s voices in these decisions. By sending out regular surveys through means of email, or via another alternative, the school can gather a wide array of perspectives and suggestions for what the school can improve on.
KO’s rich community and wide array of activities for students to take part in is one of the many positive attributes of our school. However, students will not be able to fully participate and enjoy what KO has to offer without careful consideration of student feedback.