Saturday, February 5, 2022

Equity Reflections: Survey

Disclaimer: I am sharing this only to share my own story, to spread awareness and empathy - not to make any global statement about collecting data or equity or anything else!

Recently, my district sent out an anonymous survey for staff to fill out to give feedback. I've been asked by numerous teachers if it is truly anonymous, and my answer has been yes - beyond my general inclination to trust when people say that responses are confidential, it is being conducted by an outside company, and I feel reasonably confident it is truly anonymous.

When I finally sat down to do the survey, I tried my best to be honest about both the positives and the challenges I see in our district right now. I was thoughtful and wrote out my answers, before clicking "Next" to get to the next section. Finally, as I neared the end, I hit the demographics section.

As I marked "Asian" for my ethnicity, the doubts started to creep in. "I mean, how many Asian staff members are there in the district anyway? Not many. Could/Would these answers be traced back to me? Do I need to rethink what I wrote?" I actually hit the "Back" button and reread my answers, wondering if there was anything in them that would trace back to me, especially if they were just being looked at in a group of staff members who marked "Asian." In the end, I decided not to change any of them - I believe in honest feedback and I am choosing to believe in the integrity of those who will read and interpret these results, that it will be presented in a way that does not single out certain groups with small numbers.

Still, the experience has stuck with me. I'm sure I'm not the only person who has ever had these thoughts, and it's something I don't think I would have considered as an equity issue. I fully support using demographic data to better understand results, and I don't have all of the answers - I'm not sure if there is a better way to do it. I'm simply realizing that it was a bit of additional mental load for me to work through, and these little moments add up. As we design opportunities and systems to further our equity work, I hope that we can keep the lived experiences of POC in mind!