Listening Tours: the Holdsworth challenge to all school districts

What is a listening tour? It’s exactly what it sounds like. The Holdsworth Center challenged our participating school districts to go out into their schools and listen to everyone they can, from teachers, parents and students to maintenance staff, bus drivers and cafeteria workers.

When principals and superintendents take the time to really listen to how people feel about their jobs or how the district is doing, they benefit with deeper understanding, surprising insights and valuable perspectives.

Adrian Garcia, Chief of Technology and Student Services for Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD, said his district’s listening tour helped them identify some things they could be doing better, but they also heard from a lot of folks who felt fulfilled in their jobs and upbeat about the district.

“There’s a lot of pride in the work that PSJA is doing,” Garcia said.

Every school district can take the time to go on a listening tour with employees and other stakeholders. All it takes is dedication and an open mind to hearing honest feedback and other perspectives. Start by identifying which district leaders will go on the tour and send them on their way. These conversations can be informal and impromptu, or they can be scheduled across several weeks – whatever works best for your district.

It can be challenging to carve out the time to conduct these conversations, but the payoff is tremendous. Prioritizing candid and productive conversation is one of the best exercises you can do to improve your school district’s culture, its employees, and in turn, each and every student in your care.