What’s in a Good Question?

An Easter Paschal Greeting for Christians is probably one of the most significant ways that we can use a question to fuel meaningful growth in life.  During Easter, a few of my teachers when I was in elementary school would greet the class by asking, where is Jesus now?  The class would respond with what was expected next … He is risen.  Indeed, He is risen.  We couldn’t answer the question the way we did with a sincere desire to explore, understand, and grow in faith regarding the gospel readings related to the Resurrection. 

How and why we ask questions can transform our lives and those of others.  A few years ago, Marilee Adams, founder of the Inquiry Institute wrote a book called, Change Your Questions, Change Your Life.  In that book, she explored “question thinking” and the skills that represent this strategy; how we become motivated to be on a path of learning, as opposed to being on a path of judgement.  Too often, Adams would say, when we focus on what’s wrong with me? or what’s wrong with them? these kinds of questions stifle growth.  But when our shift in approach is to embrace learning, and we focus on what’s possible?, what are my choices?, or what’s the best thing to do now?, meaningful growth  awaits us.

We are very proud of our recent ThoughtExchange engagement with our community.  Over the next few days, we will be sharing key findings with our public.  The report highlights the input of close to 3500 respondents, most of who were students, with strong representation coming from parents and staff.  Sometimes I am asked, why was the question asked that way?  Here are some facts that may help to clarify why we approach administering these surveys as we do:

  • The questions asked stem from themes developed in previous questionnaires to the public. A key aspect of a Board of Education’s work is to engage in generative governance, understand what matters to a community, and then respond to these interests.  For our most recent ThoughtExchange, we focused on the ways our school communities communicate to the public and how our faith mandate enables students to know and be like Jesus.  The extensive set of responses for each of our schools collected will further our capacity to be responsive to what our stakeholders value most about education.
  • Our questions are designed with the assistance of survey experts to best reveal a validation of existing practices and provide suggestions for growth. Ultimately, the strength of a question becomes verified by the extent to which participants sustain interest with the survey.  When we discover, such as we did with our recent exchange, that more than 5,500 thoughts generated over 110,000 ratings, we receive evidence that the survey design captured high interest from those who participated.

Thanks for your continued support of our schools, and for sharing in the growth mindset that helps us develop responsive school communities.  We all grow in our appreciation of the Resurrection this Easter Season by affirming that Jesus abides right here and right now among us.  The apostles came to understand their search for Jesus in the breaking of the bread.  Our opportunity is to always see this kind of presence in the everyday encounters of community and the needs of humankind.

Have a joyous Easter Season everyone!

David Keohane, Superintendent 

Posted: April 25, 2019

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