Amqui Elementary, in Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS), is a tight-knit school community led by Principal LaToya Cobb. Amqui’s school culture is a reflection of the leadership of Principal Cobb– which influences the students, teaching staff, and parent body. As an MNPS School of Innovation, Amqui uses Possip weekly to learn from parents and has since 2018. We talked to Principal Cobb to understand how she uses parent voices to inform her decision making and how it helps her with leading a school during a pandemic.
What did you learn through Possip last year?
“Last year was interesting because we were virtual and in-person. Through our Possip surveys, I learned that virtual learning was difficult for a lot of our parents, especially families of ELL students. So I loved that a lot of our Hispanic parents completed the survey because it can be translated for us. [In spite of the challenges of last year], we learned that parents appreciated our safety protocols.”
Amqui Fun Fact:
Students and staff participate in “villages”– groups across grade levels that compete and have fun together through different initiatives throughout the year. The villages help reinforce MNPS’s goal to “Make every student known” at Amqui. Not only are students known, however, parents and teachers are known too!
How is what you learned last year informing your decision making this year?
“When we returned we kept the safety protocols up, and parents are still appreciative of the protocols, which is something I’ve noticed in this year’s Pulse Checks™. Leading a school during a pandemic, [it’s good to know] they’re happy that we’re standing at the door passing out masks to students as they enter the building. They’re happy that we’re taking temperatures. Possip is a quick way for parents to give some input in a non-threatening way. They feel comfortable giving feedback through the platform.”
Why is parent voice important to you?
“It’s important because we’re partners. We have to work together [with parents]. Parents know their children best. Collaboration [with parents] is very important for us, so we can know how to best meet the needs of kids.
And if [students] see that there’s a partnership, then they perform better in the classroom, whether it’s academically or behaviorally, because they know that their parents are supporting us and them.
We’re at a school where we don’t have a lot of parental involvement. Our parents do care about their students. When we have events that showcase the students’ learning, they will show up. But, most of our parents are either working parents or they’re taking care of their kids. So they aren’t able to come into school and volunteer.
Possip is a way for us to get the feedback [we need] from parents because we don’t always have face-to-face conversations or interactions with them. Information from Possip allows us to know what programs we can put in place, what works, what doesn’t work, and times that work best for families. I love that we can have a Bonus Question. We can gear towards something coming up at the school to get feedback on.”
Have you ever used Possip highlight quotes or praises to encourage your staff? What are some ways that you like to do that?
“I always read my reports, and then I’ll do Possip shout outs, so I will cut and paste quotes directly from the parents and put them in an email to shout out the teachers. My teachers really love that recognition [from Possip]; it validates their work. It’s always good to get praise, but when we get it from our parents, that’s really great.
We do Possip Spotlight emails, mention the Pulse Check™ in our newsletter, and recognize our teachers every month through something called “Teacher on Fire.” We take Possip feedback and some other factors into account to determine who receives Teacher on Fire.
I refer to Possip when I’m having meetings with my supervisor. I can point to the data and say, ‘my parents are really happy here. Over 90% of parents are saying they’re consistently happy with the school this week and what’s going on. Or this is the feedback.’
And when we get feedback on something we need to work on, I take in that [parent feedback] and meet with the leadership team. We discuss how we can change certain processes. If we cannot change them, in the next parent meeting, I explain why we do things the way we do.
We always want to encourage our parents to give more feedback and positive praise for our teachers because it’s a valuable tool for us and we need their feedback.
Information from Possip is really good for me as the leader of the school. It helps me know what teachers are doing a really great job in the parents’ eyes, and also helps me receive feedback on things we may need to consider.”
Thanks to Principal Cobb for the spotlight! Learn more about Amqui and why it’s as Principal Cobb says, “the best kept secret in Madison” by visiting their website: https://amqui.mnps.org/. Leading a school during a pandemic and teaching are not easy. Our Possip partners are supporting their students, family, and staff in powerful ways. Read more Possip partner spotlights here.