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Dialogos brings student voice into strategic planning

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Dialogos brings student voice into strategic planning

Audrey Matzke, Assistant Editor

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Hoping to improve communication among students, faculty and administration, the Lab Schools administration enlisted Dialogos, a strategic planning and leadership partner, to act as an unbiased, third-party listener.

We want to make sure that everyone’s voice is equal, and the best way to ensure that is by going through a third party.”

— Shiva Menta, all-school president

Working with Dialogos, the administration hopes to facilitate “critical conversations,” relating to Lab’s identity as a school, how it collaborates, and how Lab can improve. In order to answer these three core questions, the Dialogos staff arranged meetings with students, faculty and parents, and will conduct a school-wide survey in December.

According to Lab Schools Director Charlie Abelmann, an additional benefit to using Dialogos is their ability to synthesize information through an impartial lens.

“They’re able to listen to everything and then bring back the information from a third party’s perspective,” Dr. Ablemann said.

Charlie Abelmann

Dr. Ablemann said he thinks that a lack of common experiences between students and faculty may be hindering Lab’s potential for strong  communication. Although he recognizes the strength of many teachers’ bonds with their students, he notices many missed opportunities for broader connection.

“At assemblies, some teachers go and some teachers don’t, and that’s not a shared experience. In a school, you want to have shared experiences because they build community,” Dr. Ablemann said.

At a student-only meeting held Oct. 18, the Dialogos staff members asked questions aimed at uncovering Lab’s areas for improvement, according to All-School President Shiva Menta. The meeting had a strict policy of confidentiality, which Shiva theorizes allowed attendees to feel comfortable sharing their thoughts without consequences from the administration.

“We want to make sure that everyone’s voice is equal, and the best way to ensure that is by going through a third party,” Shiva said.

Shiva said he couldn’t discuss the topics of the meeting but said students’ ideas followed similar themes.

“There was agreement between a lot of the students at the meeting,” Shiva said, “and I feel that opinions were solidified.”

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Dialogos brings student voice into strategic planning