Spring is in the air! And it’s time to do some spring cleaning—time to take stock of the previous student council year, separate the good from the bad, and determine the main takeaways from the past to apply to the remainder of the school year.

Springtime—post-new officer installation—is just the right time to sit down with the new student council officers to discuss and study the effectiveness of past events/projects, procedures, and fundraising efforts. However, you can only do that well if you have solid data and assessment information to review.

The most effective activities involve good planning—anticipating and outlining needs before the activity, noting needs during the activity, and evaluating the results after completion. For some, the “before” and “during” are no-brainers, but the “after” often falls by the wayside or does not even make it onto the planning checklist. For the most part, evaluations make up that “after” category (although real-time evaluations are important too).

What was the task’s impact? Were fundraising and/or other objectives met? Was there enough or too much time allotted? What were the team’s personal and other takeaways? In what ways can it be better the next time? Getting answers to questions like these can improve your own general planning processes and give you and your members the opportunity to process, formulate, and internalize lessons learned.

Consider these 10 suggestions for creating an evaluation system to help you review the activities you’ve accomplished over the year:

  1. Plan to gather evaluation data that is both objective (attendance numbers, task hours, costs—using past years’ figures) and subjective (attitudes and feelings about the projects).
  2. Determine how and who will collect data. Will you use questionnaires, interviews, word of mouth, etc.?
  3. Establish evaluation timing. When is the best time? Should there be more than one period of evaluation? Instant evaluations and later-date evaluations each offer distinct information and insights.
  4. Written evaluations are especially helpful when assessing major activities. A designated student council member should jot down remarks and notes throughout the planning period and during the activity itself.
  5. To save time, consider using a random sample of evaluators instead of requesting evaluations from everyone.
  6. To evaluate the task’s planning stage, concentrate on the effectiveness of teamwork, time constraints, the clarity of objectives, and difficulties.
  7. Don’t get personal. Avoid subjective judgments of project elements, such as the quality of baked goods at the bake sale.
  8. Compose a definitive statement on the prospect of doing the activity again.
  9. Make a checklist for the following year’s chair to follow.
  10. File your written evaluations and all the final reports, including appropriate names, contact information, and assessments, in the student council records.

Using the data and feedback from these evaluations, advisers and student council members can collaborate to outline effective new practices and procedures for the upcoming year.

Of course, all the planning and evaluations in the world cannot stop unforeseen circumstances, but proper organization and assessments can help you get a better handle on the things that you can control. Planning makes it easier to tackle bumps in the road and paves the way for a more productive and fun experience for all involved. —