An Interview with Michael Swindells, Seisen International School
During our last webinar on ‘How to monitor, measure and manage student wellbeing data’ for member schools of COBIS - Council Of British International Schools, we have had the opportunity to interview Michael Swindells, Accreditation Coordinator at Seisen International School to explore what they have found to be useful and also difficult when managing students' wellbeing.
Founded in 1962, Seisen International School (SIS) is a Catholic International school serving the international community in Tokyo. Seisen International School is an IB continuum school offering the PYP in its Coed Montessori Kindergarten, the PYP in its all girls Elementary School, the MYP in its all girls Middle School, and the MYP and DP in its all girls High School. Accredited by CIS and NEASC, Seisen International School serves to educate future world citizens to become men and women for others and with others, in the spirit of Jesus Christ.
Seisen’s mission is to provide a safe environment with a focus on the multi-faceted nature of community wellbeing. They seek to empower each student, through shared responsibility, creativity, and human interdependence, to develop their unique talents and to become competent and compassionate players in our global society, capable of empowering others and of bringing hope and peace to our ever-changing world.
Seisen International School is not part of the COBIS network, therefore we thank Michael for sharing their experience at SIS with us all during the webinar.
Michael has agreed to share the content of his interview on our website for other international schools to learn about Seisen International School’s student wellbeing data collection journey. Let’s dive into it!
Why did Seisen decide to move into data collection as a strategy with wellbeing?
Using a wellbeing data collection strategy was not a completely new idea to us, however, we were not collecting data consistently across our school, and we didn’t have a shared understanding or a way to effectively achieve this K-12.
During our re-accreditation process with CIS and NEASC, it became apparent that a data-based strategy for monitoring student wellbeing was a reoccurring topic when discussing student success, wellbeing and curriculum development. The CIS standards were quite specific when it came to measuring wellbeing and that made us really reflect as a school.
While we agreed that we were doing some really great things to support student wellbeing with some surveys in pockets, PSHE classes, assemblies, homeroom routines and counselling, we were not sure that we could truly say that these programmes were informed by “measures” of student wellbeing and we wondered how we could be more effective in this area.
What does this process look like in your school?
Before implementing Komodo, there wasn’t any consistency in how we gathered well-being data across the school. Our Middle and High Schools were running regular wellbeing surveys viewed by division leadership and counsellors. These would give general trends, flag students who were struggling but at the same time it was not easy to view the data and it took time. KG and ES are different in nature due to having a dedicated home room teacher, so wellbeing is generally monitored informally through observations and classroom routines and systems. In addition, our KG/ES had been collaborating and using teacher feedback to help design learning engagements that would focus on a PSHE topic, often delivered in assemblies. Across the school, parent workshops were also run by our counsellors on a range of topics and these were decided as the school year progressed depending on the needs of the students/families.
Since implementing Komodo, we now have a shared process for regularly gathering wellbeing data across our school.
Students from Grade 1 take Komodo surveys fortnightly and data is viewed by principals, assistant principals, homeroom teachers and counsellors.
With the help and guidance from Komodo, we were able to set up age appropriate surveys that catered to the needs of each grade level whilst also maintaining some consistency.
Our G1-2 students take a 3-question survey with emoji answers on their iPads, and this is slowly increased with our G9-12 students taking a 8-question emoji and slider survey. Each division planned the surveys using questions from the Komodo library but were also aware of what other divisions of the school were thinking. This led us to have questions that students are asked across all grades which gives us some really great cohort analytics.
Surveys are done in advisory or homeroom classes and are short and sharp. This is based on the research Komodo has completed, and especially important when thinking about survey fatigue. We started surveys at our school in the last quarter of the year. This choice might seem strange but we really wanted both teachers and students to get used to using Komodo before the start of the new school year in August. We ran a faculty session about Komodo and then teachers split up into divisions to discuss specifics. Parents were informed and students were introduced and guided through initial surveys.
The process also now involves the Komodo check-in system which is another feature that is layered on top of the surveys and has allowed those students in need to reach out. Also, Komodo intelligently informs us that it might be a good idea for us to touch base with a student based on their wellbeing performance over time.
We now have the ability to view individual, class, grade, division, and school-wide data clearly with easy-to-understand visualisations. We are quite excited to use this to inform future school initiatives.
What were the learnings from using this data-driven student wellbeing process?
It is important to note here that we are very new to this, so our learning and knowledge of wellbeing data collection is developing and evolving. What I can comment on is the end of year academic review meeting Seisen International School had with Komodo in which we gained lots of ideas and insights. The meeting allowed us to move past the rich data and great visualisations and really think about how we can now implement strategies that support our students. It was a bit of a pinball machine conversation with ideas flowing each way which was really exciting!
While some of the initial student wellbeing data was not quite as expected, leaders were happy that they could now see this cohort data clearly for the first time ever. For instance, it was easy to see that in a certain division, sleep and stress were the major problems for students. Whereas another division also showed that students were struggling to manage their screen time.
Is your school using any of the data collection to guide strategy for the next academic year?
For me this is sort of the entire point. If our wellbeing data is not able to guide our decisions, then we are not doing it right. With Google Surveys in the past this was hard. The visualisations and organised data we can now access thanks to Komodo, make this task easier!
While we are new, here are some of the ideas and ways Komodo is guiding strategy:
- During our end-of-year leadership meeting, when discussing the next year’s school goals, we used the Komodo data to support our decisions for a specific school goal.
- Grade and cohort data will be able to inform PSHE classes and assemblies, and homeroom planning.
- A great idea from our Komodo Customer Success Lead (Holly Jenkin), was for students to use their Komodo survey results to reflect on their wellbeing trends. This could be done briefly during non-survey weeks or once a month. This could even help class meetings to help identify wellbeing goals as a class. A little bit of data-literacy may need to be taught along the way, but reflection is so important to address any concern or improve any area in which students may be struggling
- As the years progress with using Komodo, we will be able to get strategic with our planning: for instance, if we saw that a specific grade were struggling with screen time or with stress at a specific time of the year, then we would be able to implement targeted interventions ahead of time and see how that helps the next year.
Ilia Lindsay, Komodo Psychology Lead, mentioned during the webinar, it is important to reflect and realign so as to start the next school year really running.
And that is what we’re planning to do at Seisen: collect, reflect and realign to support our student and community wellbeing the best we can.