Why Building Buy-In Matters

Why Does Community Investment Matter?

Collecting and tracking feedback from students, teachers, and families provides you with keen insight into people’s experiences as well as knowledge about where and how you can grow and develop moving forward. Panorama’s survey instruments focus on the topics that are most likely to produce improved outcomes.

Surveys offer an easy and scalable way to collect feedback from many different members of your community. But in order to get good perception data, you need your respondents (students, staff, and/or families) to believe in the process. Here are several strategies that will help you increase understanding and buy-in so that you will get the high-quality feedback you seek.

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General Strategies for Building Buy-In

  1. Share how helpful the last round of data was:  If you have conducted surveys in the past, share how the data was used and why it was so important. This establishes a virtuous cycle - the more you use the data in ways that people can see that their feedback matters, the more high-quality responses you will get.
  2. Be transparent about purpose and promise feedback:  Explain what perception data will help you learn, focusing on the areas that community members are likely to be interested in and promise to share those results with them once the survey has been completed. For example, “Many of you have wondered whether our girls feel more comfortable in their English and social studies classes. Collecting perception data will help us answer that question.”
  3. Pique respondents’ interests:  Share scenarios that illustrate how collecting perception data can improve students', teachers', or families' lives, so people have a reason to invest their time in taking surveys. Imagine the following scenario for administering a parent survey: “Right now we are revisiting our bullying policy. Knowing how safe your children feel at school will be a big factor in our decision-making." 
  4. Leverage relationship:  As much as possible, have people who are close to the respondents be the ones who recruit people to participate and provide their feedback. For instance, a student survey might work better if it is administered by guidance counselors or teachers who know the students well than by a new principal who is still getting to know the students. A PTA president might be a great person to get parents excited about a family-school relationships survey.
  5. Show how the benefits outweigh the costs:  Emphasize how much will be learned (in specific terms) and how vast the potential for improvement is while underscoring how minimal the costs are. For instance, “It will take just a couple of minutes to fill out our family survey and we’ll learn significantly more about how you are involved in your child’s school. This will help us make better decisions in connecting with you, as parents, to engage in school and support your children’s schooling.”
  6. Invoke a team norm:  By noting that everyone is in this together, on the same team, you can begin to signal that each person is responsible for doing his or her part for the whole group. If you can reinforce that “nearly everyone provided their feedback,” that also adds positive social pressure. At the same time, you also want to stress to respondents that their individual, unique responses are vital to understanding their personal perceptions of the school.  
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