We Talk, They Listen: The Results of Thought Exchange

Kathryn Haig, Editor In Chief

All of you have participated in the Thought Exchange forums posted to Schoology over the past two years. Yes, you answered the questions, but you probably skimmed the introduction. Right? If you did, in fact, read it, you probably don’t believe a word of it. Adults listening to students? Nonsense. Ridiculous. Never going to happen. You probably think your comments will never actually be read, never actually be considered by the Ramapo administration.
That’s where you’re wrong. According to Superintendent Rui Dionisio, “Feedback from all Thought Exchanges, including additional school data (i.e. test score performance, attendance data, etc.) and comparative data against similar type districts is reviewed and considered to identify the areas of strength and areas for focus in developing a new strategic plan.” Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are being reviewed by the Strategic Planning Committee, which was put together with the purpose of examining a wide range of diverse student perspectives in order to improve Ramapo’s sense of community and unity. Made up of faculty and staff, the Strategic Planning Committee is currently striving to make Ramapo a more inclusive, healthy, and productive environment.
The project “has created opportunities for open and honest exchange of what we are doing well in our schools and learning community as well as the areas we should focus more of our efforts to drive continuous improvement.” An action already taken by the Strategic Planning Committee was the decision to turn October 12 into a half-day. Inspired by, as Dr. Dionisio describes it, “an important perspective that our staff would benefit from professional staff development time carved out in our school calendar for increased collaboration,” the October 12 half-day may be but the first of its kind. After hearing positive feedback, the Strategic Planning Committee is “currently looking at additional opportunities throughout the school year” for built-in professional development.
Students have also begun to see the potential of Thought Exchange. One Ramapo senior explains, “I enjoy being able to write out my thoughts without having to go out of my way to reach out to the administrators or teachers […]. It is also nice that the administrators are asking for our ideas about how to improve our school environment and on other topics as it feels like our thoughts and voices are properly being heard. One aspect I particularly like is how we are able to see other’s responses and rate them to make a certain response stand out among the others.”
Although Dr. Dionisio points out that change is never immediate, the Strategic Planning Committee “[has] a great head start on hearing the voices that shine light on areas for focus.” Dedicated to the betterment of the Ramapo and Indian Hills Communities, the Strategic Planning Committee is set to have a completed multi-year plan by February 2023. The next course of action will be to “create specific action plans and strategies to enable us to attain the desired results and outcomes.” For more information, agendas, and presentations, please visit https://www.rih.org and click on the “Strategic Planning” in the menu.