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  • Jim Mercer

SamTastic Weekly Tip: 11/28/16

Many SAM teams use Focus Groups to help the leader best align effort and time to improve teaching and learning.


Focus Groups were initially created as a marketing research tool. Wikipedia: “A group of people are asked about their perceptions, opinions, beliefs, and attitudes towards a product, service, concept, advertisement, idea, or packaging. Questions are asked in an interactive group setting where participants are free to talk with other group members. During this process, the researcher either takes notes or records the vital points he or she is getting from the group.”


A SAM team can use this concept to talk with parents, students and staff about issues, ideas and practice that can help move instruction forward. For example, one high school SAM principal conducts a focus group every week with selected students. His topics range from homework policy to budget decisions. The purpose is to see/hear the student point of view and develop of sense of ownership in decision making that is ted to instructional/learning goals. Another SAM principal meets with select parents weekly and uses the agenda for the upcoming staff meeting to frame the discussion. Still another SAM principal meets with teachers from different grade levels to foster understanding of the challenges and work each level is engaged. A SAM principal supervisor brings four different business partners together every six weeks to discuss progress toward meeting mutual goals.


Scheduling a focus group is easy. The descriptor is Decision Making Groups and Meetings because the leader uses the information gained to make the best decision possible to improve teaching and learning.

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