Making the Most of Your School Survey

Recently, I heard the story of a friend-of-a-friend Principal facing her school survey results. Each year, she would sit down late on a Friday night, after the family went to bed, pour a large glass of wine, and read through her data. The entire process filled her with dread. It was overwhelming and discouraging.

Photo by Melanie Wasser on Unsplash

I’ve been there.

I can remember holding my head in my hands in my office overcome by considering the 5% of responses that were unfavorable.

The words would haunt me for days, if not weeks. I didn’t know the value, nor how to constructively make meaning of the responses.

A turning point in my own leadership journey was our mastermind reading, Thanks for the Feedback: The Art and Science of Receiving Feedback Well.

“Those who handle feedback more fruitfully have an identity story with a different assumption at its core. These folks see themselves as ever evolving, ever growing. They have what is called a “growth” identity. How they are now is simply how they are now. It’s a pencil sketch of a moment in time, not a portrait in oil and gilded frame. Hard work matters; challenge and even failure are the best ways to learn and improve. Inside a growth identity, feedback is valuable information about where one stands now and what to work on next. It is welcome input rather than upsetting verdict.”

― Douglas Stone, Thanks for the Feedback

How did I move from discouraged to grateful?

A growth mindset and learning some simple steps to Make the Most of my School Survey.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash


Get clear about your intentions and desired outcomes. Set yourself up for success by activating your own growth mindset. Your mindset will make this process a success.

You want to go into this process appreciating the value of feedback.

Additionally, communicate with the respondents of your upcoming survey. Share your intentions, what will serve the process, and even any boundaries you might want to establish.

Establish Your Timeline

It’s helpful to know key dates. When will you develop the survey, disseminate it, and have deadlines to complete it? When will you digest the data, collaborate with colleagues, and define the action plan?

Most importantly when will you circle back?

Digest Data for Themes

When digesting data from surveys, the outliers are not as important as themes or the re-occurring messages from your stakeholders. What’s coming up often? What matters most?

A colleague’s perspective on this data is often helpful. I strongly suggest that if the responses feel emotional, get help to find your equilibrium and sift through the data for the essential information.

If you need support, feel free to book a discovery call with me. I’d be happy to walk alongside you as you make sense of the feedback.

Make an Action Plan

Creating an action plan and communicating back to your community is the only purpose of sending out a survey.

What clear messages did you hear? How are you going to act on them in the next 90 days? Over the next year? How will the work make a difference?

This is also where you can communicate your gratitude for the participation, the process, and the invaluable feedback and plan.

These four steps are the simple plan for making the most of your school survey.

For the sake of the children,


PS Download our Learn Forward™“Make the Most of Your School SurveyToolkit today.