Academic Experience

The well-being question we most definitely should be asking students, parents and teachers

“How are you feeling?”

That’s a pretty difficult question for most people to answer under normal circumstances. Many of us may not be sure how to describe how we’re feeling or have the right words. We may not feel comfortable expressing or exposing our emotional lives. Or we are simply rookies when it comes to emotional intelligence and our feelings.

Let’s complicate that with the coronavirus pandemic that has introduced an entirely new level of stress, disruption, and trauma into people’s lives. How are you feeling? If you weren’t before, you most definitely should be asking that question now.

What Our Feelings Tell Us

Marc Brackett, author of Permission to Feel, CASEL board member, and director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, tells us: Feelings are a form of information. They’re like news reports from inside our psyches, sending messages about what’s going on inside the unique person that is each of us in response to whatever internal or external events we’re experiencing. We need to access that information, and then figure out what it’s telling us. That way we can make the most informed decisions.

For schools and districts, what you’re able to provide will be only as good as what students, parents, and teachers need. In this unprecedented time, schools and districts are taking many different approaches to connect and communicate with their families. If you are using surveys as part of your strategy, we have added two well-being questions to our K-12 Remote Learning Pulse Check-in and our Remote Educator Pulse Check-in free solutions to help you gather the information you need to make informed decisions.

Incorporating even just a single question about well-being is essential. If you’re just getting started, you can use this information to begin to understand the experiences and needs of students, parents, and teachers. If you’re already asking about well-being, use what you are learning to steer you in the right direction so you know what to do next—ask deeper questions, take specific actions, and/or make strategic decisions.

What To Do With All of These Feelings?

We are listening to school leaders from all parts of the country and from around the globe. And we know there are more questions than answers right now. Here are some tips that can help you use well-being text data effectively:

  • Read every response. If you ask people to share how they are feeling, treat each response as if that person was sharing his/her feelings with you in real time. You’re opening the door for connection. Consider establishing a team to manage your text data at scale. You can quickly and easily manage your text data using the TextiQ functionality in our platform.
  • Resist the urge to problem solve. At least not right away. Yes, decisions need to be made and planning needs to happen. But don’t try to solve everything at once. Also, try not to generalize, draw conclusions too quickly, or make hasty decisions. Knowing what actions to take will become more apparent the more regularly and consistently you collect data over time.
  • Respond with empathy and in a timely manner. A great example of this comes from one of my own leaders. In his weekly newsletter he responded to feedback from us about how we’re doing. He wrote: “Additionally, I am aware that some of you report that better working conditions at home would help you be more productive...such as better equipment or a better setup (e.g., bigger monitor, better desk chair). I don’t have a great answer for this concern yet, but I want you to know that we hear you, and we are working on it.”
  • Review your strategy and plans. Use information about well-being to guide your planning for whole-child supports and strategies, as well as for ways to care for your teachers, administrators and staff, during this time. The more data you collect, regularly and consistently over time, the better informed your decisions.
  • Rinse and repeat. Be consistent and keep a constant pulse. Not only does this help provide much-needed consistency during a time of uncertainty, but it helps you be proactive, not reactive. Pay attention to themes, patterns and trends so that you can begin to spot challenges early.
  • Remember to take care of yourself, too. Maybe after reading this blog, give yourself a 5-minute break—use your favorite meditation app, make a cup of tea, do some breathing exercises, step outside for fresh air, or do something else that feels calming to you.


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Samantha A. Murray // XM Scientist

Samantha is an XM Scientist at Qualtrics with more than 15 years of experience in education. A former classroom teacher, she has also served as a charter school board member, district administrator, qualitative researcher, program coordinator, and evaluation and policy analyst. Samantha regularly consults with education clients around the globe on their XM programs. Samantha partnered with Angela Duckworth and other world-class scientists and survey methodologists to develop the Character & Well-being Survey, a survey administered by the Character Lab to track social-emotional learning over time. Samantha is sought after as a speaker on experience management and continuous improvement in education, having spoken at Qualtrics X4 in SLC, Sydney, and London; the Schools & Academy Show in London; and the SAP Next-Gen Academy for Experience Management in NYC. Her poster session was featured as part of the 2020 Carnegie Foundation Summit on Improvement in Education. Samantha earned her A.B. in Public Policy Studies from Duke University and her M.S.Ed. in Education Policy from the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education. She holds certificates from the Education Policy Fellowship Program sponsored by the Institute for Educational Leadership and the Harvard Strategic Data Project Summer Institute for Leadership in Analytics.

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