Over the last four years, our team has had the opportunity to work with schools and districts around the United States and world to increase parent engagement. We’ve seen a few simple behaviors that drive successful programs. Some of these are basic framework for any program, however, we thought we’d share as we’ve seen them consistently make the difference in developing a thriving community. Here’s to thriving in the 2016-17 school year!!
Five steps to engagement:
- Define the relationship: What type of relationship do you wish to have within your staff, parent, and student communities this year? What words would you use to describe the relationship? Are you hoping for Trust? Partnership? Successful districts have shared that clearly defining and adding values to what you wish to see at the end of the year will help you succeed.
- Share your vision: The old adage “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care” comes to mind. If your community doesn’t know what type of relationship you’ve defined and what you’re striving to achieve, they won’t know how to be part of the vision. Your single biggest catalyst can come from community members who are excited by the transparency and passion you’re putting towards engagement.
- Pick a methodology or tool: We hear over and over that educators and parents alike are overwhelmed with the amount of time they spend “communicating.” It’s not unlike trying to take a sip from a full throttle fire hose. Once you’ve defined the relationship you wish to have, simplify the path by picking a methodology or tool that works for your community. We recommend technology for leveling the playing field across language and economic barriers and choosing a platform that can be used at every level of the school or district. Simplify!!
- Set an example and Be consistent: Such simple words, but hard in practice. One of the major and consistent success factors we see with engaged communities are leaders (both educators and parents) who have defined the relationship, chosen the method, and then stuck to it until there is consistency across all members of the community. Setting an example early in the year of what will be shared, when and where will take stress off of everyone and save time as well.
- Reward behavior: Teachers and key parent leaders play a critical role in driving community engagement across a school and district. Reward those who are working toward the vision, setting examples, and being consistent. It can be as simple as praising them on your engagement platform. Let your community members know you’re watching and appreciative of the partnership.