“If I had only known my student was going through this, I could have offered some just-in-time supports.”
This speaks to what any caring adult in K-12 education has always wanted to know: How are my students doing right now, and how can I best support them?
At Spokane Public Schools (SPS), serving 32,000 students in Spokane, Washington, educating the whole child is a key focus for school staff, community partners, and families.
The district partners with Panorama to elevate student voices, understand student needs across academics and social-emotional learning (SEL), and respond to those needs. SPS has been administering Panorama's universal SEL and school climate screeners for the last several years. Recently, teachers have been using Panorama's student check-ins tools to connect with students and provide "just-in-time" supports.
To learn more about the impact of this work, we heard from Scott Kerwien, Director of Technology and Information and Director of College and Career Readiness at SPS, and David Dehlbom, sixth grade teacher at Stevens Elementary. Read and watch excerpts of our conversation below.
At the district level, what role has Panorama played in SPS's student support strategy during the 2020-21 school year?
Scott Kerwien, Director of Technology and Information and Director of College and Career Readiness: This past year, we were very aware of the heightened stress that was placed on educators and building-level administrators. We were intentional about not adding additional work onto the plates of our educators. But we did ask them to check-in on their students using Panorama.
As a former school counselor, a concept I used to hear the time from teachers was: “If I had only known that my student was going through this, I could have offered some just-in-time supports.” This speaks to what a lot of us in K-12 education—or anyone working to support students—have always wanted to know.
The quantitative and qualitative data that we gather with Panorama has helped our district take steps to answer this question. We often reduce students to numbers and averages, but numbers and averages don't speak to their entire experience. The qualitative information that we get from the student surveys is extremely valuable to capture student voice. Being transparent about the data is also an important factor for us. We report Panorama information as part of our key performance indicators to our school board and our community formally.
Panorama’s student check-ins tool is also exciting for us because it gives teachers a nimble way to connect with their students and understand how students are doing on a regular basis. While Panorama's SEL Survey provides data for one point in time—maybe three points in time—across a school year, the check-ins tool can actually speak to the student's experience over time. Teachers can implement a check-in in a school circle at the beginning of the day at the elementary level or in an advisory at the secondary level.
With check-ins, it's not the district or the building principal telling teachers to do something. Teachers can access it on their own to connect with their students, as well as to relay their own SEL approach and instructional model in their classrooms.
"Panorama's student check-ins tool is exciting for us because it gives teachers a nimble way to connect with their students and understand how students are doing on a regular basis."
—Scott Kerwien, Director of Technology and Information and Director of College and Career Readiness, Spokane Public Schools (WA)
At the classroom level, how have you used Panorama's SEL and check-ins tools to support students?
David Dehlbom, Sixth Grade Teacher: I use Panorama to administer student check-ins and gauge how my students are doing socially and emotionally. I check-in with my students using Panorama every two weeks. I've also used Panorama's classroom feedback questions to check-in after lessons, especially digital lessons.
Check-ins are quick to implement, and the information is very easy to use. After administering a check-in, I can go through and read the responses. The questions are around how often my students felt happy, hopeful, angry, lonely, sad, worried, or frustrated in a given week. Panorama is a great way of helping us ask those hard questions in a private way.
In addition, I always include the question: “Would you like to talk privately with an adult from school about how you’re feeling or something on your mind?” Two weeks ago, I had five students who wanted to talk to a counselor. It's been very helpful to have students express that they want to talk to an adult about feeling depressed.
This does translate to the classroom. When we've done SEL lessons, students are way more open to having honest discussions about mental health and what they've gone through in the last year. I've had students actually share what they've learned from the counselor. It has been amazing to see this emotional growth in sixth graders.
In addition, Panorama's Playbook has links to a ton of different lessons you can teach, for all grade levels and from different curriculum providers. Anywhere your students are struggling, there are lessons that can help you teach in that area—for example, growth mindset or emotion regulation.
"With Panorama, I check-in with my students every two weeks. It’s quick to implement and the information is very easy to use. I always include the question: 'Would you like to talk privately with an adult from school about how you’re feeling or something on your mind?' It's been very helpful to have students express that they want to talk to an adult."
—David Dehlbom, Sixth Grade Teacher, Spokane Public Schools (WA)
Download Panorama's Check-ins Question Bank (includes 80 questions) to learn more about the check-ins tool.