“We put together the entire schedule for our leadership retreat based on a Thoughtexchange. We had some pretty unexpected results. We got some information that revealed that we didn’t realize there was a lack of understanding about a couple items. So, we were able to build curriculum around what they needed to know and use it to guide our summer retreat last year."
--Dr. Jeff Mattes, District Superintendent, Thompkins-Seneca-Tioga BOCES NY
While summer is often a time to recharge, we also use the downtime to reflect, regroup and refocus. We grownups know it’s necessary, but the kid in us doesn’t find checking off those boxes much fun. They’d rather be at summer camp, where things are interesting and engaging. But who says grown-up stuff like leadership retreats can’t offer the same experience?
Below, we’ve got two examples to help you get your exchange set up in a matter of minutes. Check them out.
In advance of the retreat. Be sure to give yourself some lead time to use the results in your planning, and then allow five to seven days for participation. Here’s a question you could use:
- What are the most important topics for us to discuss during our Admin Workshop this summer?
Once the exchange has closed, prepare a report for all participants with the top 5, 10, or 20 thoughts to close the feedback loop, reinforce the power of the ratings, and ensure everyone feels heard. Taking a few minutes to do this (including leader comments is a bonus!) builds and reinforces trust in the process.
Live during the meeting. Take 10 minutes during the meeting for leaders to sit back, consider the past year and think about what they hope to achieve. Here’s a question you could use:
- What are some important aspects of the Board's work that were successful last year? What are some critical gaps that need addressing this coming year?
Once the exchange has closed, use the top thoughts to drive discussion and move into action. Using Thoughtexchange leaves traditional brainstorming sessions in the dust as you already have a prioritized list to get started on next steps!
Of course, the ideas don’t end there. Feel free to let the examples above inspire your own questions, or check out https://questions.thoughtexchange.com/ for more possibilities. We’re also here to coach you through shaping a great question or offer any other support you might need. Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be happy to help.