In our last month’s newsletter, we shared that WATG’s Membership Committee sent out a survey during the month of January. The purpose of the survey was to gauge how well we are doing as your state gifted organization. We wanted to find out what we are doing well, what we need to improve, and how we can more fully serve you, our constituents. In this month’s newsletter, we’d like to share some of the results of the survey with you. In the pie chart below, you will find that of our 96 respondents, 39.6% were members of our organization, 32.3% were not, and 28.1% were not sure if they were members. When asked why they were not members, 56.7% of non-members chose the option, “I am not sure what benefits I would get if I joined.” Clearly, as an organization we need to explain the benefits of membership more fully. Members, partners, and supporters enjoy these benefits: advocacy for gifted students at the local, state and national level (and our membership numbers count when we advocate at the state level for funding), access to high quality professional development (including our conference, workshops, webinars, and podcasts) for parents and educators, coaching and consulting services, briefings on the research of gifted education issues and topics on our website and social media sites, scholarships for gifted students and educators, and networking opportunities. Essentially, we offer a knowledgeable platform for gifted students and their parents and educators in Wisconsin. As an affiliate of NAGC, the National Association for Gifted Children, we are constantly kept abreast of national and international issues in gifted education, and share this information with our members.
In examining the data from the survey, we were surprised to find out that a large percentage of our respondents did not know if they were members of WATG. Because membership dues are part of the fee structure for our annual conference, we believe that some respondents (especially those who are signed up for our conference by gifted coordinators, for instance), did not know that they actually were members, even though they attended our conference.
It also came as no surprise that many priorities changed during the pandemic. Less people attended WATG’s virtual conference than our standard in-person conferences. School districts who often paid for past conference attendance were attending to other priorities, and many educators admitted to being “zoomed out” as a result of online teaching and learning. However, most respondents shared that they still utilized many of WATG’s services.
When asked about which WATG services were used by our respondents, it became evident that our monthly newsletters (71.3%), website (69.1%), conference (67%), and webinars (22.3%) were most popular. 75.3% of our respondents indicated that they read the newsletter every month, and some had suggestions for improving both the newsletter and website. Some members asked for more information on resources, technology tools, books and classroom ideas. Others asked for advice on parenting gifted kids, and how to help gifted kids make and keep friends. Still others asked for more information/publicity regarding upcoming podcasts, webinars, conferences, and other learning opportunities. One respondent shared this comment, “We belong to CESA6 & use their resources, but I APPRECIATE the WATG newsletter & the VALUABLE information by the various authors...I also link it for parents in my district.” This is encouraging information because it greatly expands the range of our message. It would be amazing if more district gifted coordinators would share our resources widely. We highly encourage it.
One very interesting set of statistics centered around conference attendance. In the graph below, you can see that many of our conference attendees attend each year. It was somewhat disappointing to see, however, that roughly a fourth of our respondents had never attended a WATG conference. We welcome ideas on how to improve this statistic. We are very hopeful that once the pandemic is mitigated, people will be eager to get together to network and learn face-to-face. Many respondents shared this sentiment!
Our survey also asked about WATG’s presence on social media, and our respondents who used social media overwhelmingly chose Facebook as a preferred platform. It was interesting to note that 50.5% of the respondents do not follow WATG on social media, and another 19.8% do not use social media at all. Though we did not ask about what kind of social media posts would be most helpful, we will continue to analyze our social media metrics to get further insight about this.
Though webinars and podcasts are relatively new additions to our WATG services, we were surprised to find that 28.7% of the survey respondents had watched a WATG webinar, and 5.3% of the respondents had listened to a WATG podcast (a most-recently debuted service). We are definitely planning to continue these services. The feedback assured us that these offerings work very well for our constituents, and fit into our busy lives.
Frequently suggested topics for webinars and podcasts included: Building and coordinating GT policy and programming on a budget (in rural, urban, and suburban districts), collaborating with other educators regarding gifted kids and best practice strategies, equitable identification of gifted and talented learners, differentiation and high-ceiling learning for gifted learners, equity issues in gifted education, culturally responsive and anti-racist teaching, trauma informed teaching, and an examination of successful models of programming for gifted learners in Wisconsin.
Also high on the list were parenting strategies, parenting and educating young gifted children, social and emotional needs of gifted children and adolescents, advocacy (both for individual children and for gifted programming), twice exceptional (2E) gifted kids, underachievement, motivation, and engagement in gifted kids, and homeschooling advice and ideas.
Finally, several respondents asked to hear success stories from students. How is gifted programming helping them, or how did gifted programming help them? What are their stories? This is great feedback, since human interest stories appeal to wide audiences. We will take this advice into consideration as we plan future programming.
When asked about what other events WATG could offer, in addition to ideas offered above, here are some suggestions we received:
Our organization has gleaned some very useful information from this survey, and we want to thank all of you who participated. We will be using this information as we prioritize and strategically plan future initiatives.
As promised, we randomly chose five respondents to receive a year’s free membership to WATG. WATG is pleased to announce these winners: M. Kennedy, P. Merrifeld, C. Henricks, S. Calhoun, and G. Schiller. Congratulations, winners!
In the meantime, everyone, please keep your suggestions coming. You can always contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are eager to hear from you and to grow with your help.