Wednesday, July 6, 2011

School Community Relations


(Summary video created by Dr. Judy Horrocks)

My first course this summer focused on School Community Relations and was a great start to the semester!  Unlike most of the courses here at Lehigh (predominantly filled with overseas teachers), this course was an equal mix of US based teachers/administrators and international school educators.  This mix really allowed our group to have some great discussions about communication structures in schools today, and helped us to identify common strategies to help build effective public relations plans in our different settings.  Over the session, we had some great discussions and the following themes emerged as I begin to think about improving school communication next year.
  • Image is important - It has often been said, but perception is reality within schools and the image that stakeholders have of your school will affect the way they act and the choices they make.  Therefore it is important that school leaders understand the importance of public relations to ensure that the perception of their schools match the reality.
  • Relationships are key - As with most aspects of leadership, effective communication begins with effective relationships.  This is most important within the immediate school community, but it is also very important to establish links with outside organizations (newspapers, government agencies, local arts community, etc) that could play a significant role in your school's program or reputation.   
  • Communication must be two way in order to be effective - when building communication plans, it is important to ensure that feedback loops are present.  Furthermore, it is necessary that feedback is collected from various groups within the school community to try and get a clear picture of public perception.
  • Emotion plays a large role in communication - In schools, we are working with people, and emotion is always going to be part of difficult discussions.  As administrators, it is often useful to step away from a situation and determine the needs of the communities to determine future plans. There are many times when people may react negatively to change because of an emotional need (how will this affect my child, how will this affect my job, etc) rather than reacting to the change itself.  If we can first speak to the emotional concern, the follow up communication becomes much easier for everyone.
  • Social media needs to be included - Although there are still very few schools that have embraced social media in school communication plans, we had some great discussions about how these tools can be used to facilitate effective two way communication.  As schools develop their plans for communication in today's environment, it is extremely important that they incorporate social media in their efforts.  School's that are most effective using social networking tools have a clearly defined audience and purpose for the tools that they employ
Although I am sure that this is not an exhaustive list, I do feel like I have a much better understanding of the importance of public relations and how this affects schools today.  As always, I am looking forward to seeing how this will affect our practices at ACS and would be interested to hear your thoughts on how you handle public relations in your school or district.

162 comments:

  1. I believe that Public School-Community Relations are now more important than ever. Americans are constantly bombarded with negative information about the performance of their local schools. Rarely do we see anything positive about the schools, teachers, principals, central office staff, or even more surprisingly, the elected school board officials. It is up to these same school districts, principals, and teachers to create and maintain a good "School and Community Relations Plan." Without this well-thought-out plan, many times school districts simply react to situations, instead of preparing and planning for situations as they arise. Schools without a"School and Community Relations Plan" can expect to be on the fringe of the positive/negative attitude of the various publics they serve. Schools with a good plan can expect to be seen in a positive light, as well as to have more of the public involved in the day to day operation of the school.
    Speaking as a teacher of a school that houses only Sixth grade students, it is very difficult to get parents involved. Students have been in an elementary setting and it is the first time they are moving to a middle school setting. Many times parents are frankly tired of being involved in their students school because they were asked to be involved at the elementary school level and were never thanked for their service. However, there are five things that I would try, as a principal, to get parents involved in school affairs:1. Every summer we have an open house. Parents are in our building for the first time. It would be great to have a PowerPoint presentation showing the new parents what the previous parent-volunteers had done. 2. After that, I would acknowledge our previous volunteers by giving them some kind of award. It would be nice if there were money to purchase gifts, but that is something that could perhaps be donated by local businesses. Everyone needs validation and appreciation. Many times people who volunteer stop because they do not feel that their time or effort was appreciated. 3. Then I would give each parent a calendar of events and somewhat put them on the spot by asking them to go ahead and sign up to volunteer for different events. Many times people will be very generous with their time and effort if they are simply asked. 4. I would also be sure to give the parents every type of communication that we use at the school (the school website, department websites, teacher websites, phone numbers to different resources, twitter account information, Facebook information, etc.) Parents tend to feel stress when their student is moving to a new school, and getting older. It is my job to make that transition easier. Information gives parents more power to feel that they can handle the changes in the lives of their children. 5.Another suggestion that I might offer is to have parent/student "project" nights. We have a hard time getting parents into our building. It would be non-threatening to invite parents to come to school with their children to create something together. Perhaps it could become some kind of rotation where the parents and students could go through each of the content areas (Language Arts, Social Studies, Math, Science, Health/PE, Art, Music, etc.) and create something that tied to the content and would help both the students and parents understand what we were trying to teach. One night might be Math night, and then in a month, they could have Language Arts night. It would be great to be able to invite the local newspaper to these "nights" and to post pictures of the parental involvement on the school website too. I believe that the more excited the parents and students who participate are, the more parents and students will want to become involved. These are just a few suggestions for parental involvement, there are many other things that schools can implement to encourage parents to get involved in school affairs.
    Kristen Morgan
    EDIL 679, Summer 2, 2012 Morehead State University

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    1. You are in a building with 6th grade students only?! Wow! I bet it would be hard to get parents involved. I am at an intermediate school with only 4th and 5th grade and we have a hard time even at that level. It is like parents are so involved at our primary school and then by the time we get them, parents all but quit volunteering their time. I can only imagine what it is like at the middle and high school levels. If I am ever at the middle or high school levels, this is something that I would like to see change. Students still need support no matter how old they are. This would be a challenge that I would be up for! I would also be wiling to bet that our drop out rate would decrease if we had more parents involved in the upper grades. Great post! Love your ideas!

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  2. Kristen,
    I think you are right about the negative publicity from a national news standpoint. it is all over the place and is often unfair. However, I think the opposite is true of the local news sources. They are the often accused of being puppets of the school and are criticized for not publishing some of the negative stories coming out of the school. Speaking from my personal experience, which I admit is limited (six county newspapers, all in the same geographic region, and news out of huntington and hazard), I have observed that the local media is very supportive of the schools that are within their area.

    Again, two-way communication is found on a list of important factors in public relations. I think this is the key point to making public relations work. It helps to get the buy in of stakeholders by making them a part of the schooling process and it allows the school to make adjustments in its programs and in its public relations plan to meet the needs and the demands of the public they serve. In the past, and now, schools have not been models of good public relations. We have to change that by opening our doors and our minds to meet and pick the brains of the public. My school recently started a facebook page, so I find interesting the role social media can play in public relations. With so many people using these type of sites now it only makes sense for schools and other organizations to take advantage of them.

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    1. Kenneth,
      I wish that our local media was as supportive as yours sounds. The local newspapers seem to always publish the negative news that surrounds our schools. At my school we have tried many times to get a reporter to come cover a positive news story, recognition, or award and for some reason they are almost always too busy to cover it. However, let there be anything negative, theft, bus misconduct, drugs, etc. and they are the first ones on the scene.

      I like your idea of a school Facebook page. At this point, we only have a few teachers who have Facebook pages.

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    2. I agree fully. It is quite frustrating how the paper wants to publish negativity, however, when we send in positive information, it is a small, one sentence, almost hidden report.

      Martina Skidmore

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  3. I appreciate the video on this site because it puts school-community relations out there in an understandable and straightforward way. It is not difficult to be a good communicator, it takes honesty, integrity, fairness, and a caring personality. This cannot be faked or seem insincere because people pick up on this and don't appreciate it. Rather, as future school leaders we need to take the bull by the horns and respect our students, staff, parents, and community. Just as Kenneth mentioned, we HAVE to have two-way communication. This is the only way to communicate. How can we make true progress if we never listen to those voicing their opinions and concerns?

    I also love that there is getting to be a lot more out there about joining social media and getting involved in the realm of technology. When you connect with the times, people develop a stronger tie to the school and feel like they understand what is going on. We must not forget about the local media outlets who will give a lot of information to the public about our schools. If we want to keep that information positive and true, we have to be open about what is going on. We cannot hide or cover up our weaknesses but rather, we should celebrate our strengths and give our plan of action to grow. It seems like common sense but must not be since many schools are still not practicing good communication. I think it stems from the fact that it takes hard work and is often not a priority.

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    1. Emma,
      I liked the video too. I actually posted it to Facebook to share with my teacher/principal friends. It is true that people are reluctant some times to think that schools/principals/superintendents/ etc. are being genuine. It is very necessary for us, as you said, to respect those we come in contact with. If we respect them, then we will listen to them and we will gain their respect in turn.

      I just finished a technology class, and it blows my mind exactly how much technology is out there. I am speaking for myself, but even though I try to use some kind of technology in my class every day, I am barely scraping the tip of the iceberg.

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  4. Kristen,

    I think most media want to be supportive of the local schools but the schools have to work at developing a good relationship. It's sad that most news reported is negative so without a solid relationship between school districts and the media, the community is not made aware of the accomplishments of students and staff. Many districts, large and small, now have a person dedicated to PR and community involvement. Occassionally media staff members are "out to get" local school administrators and board members so creating positive relationships is even more important. Particularly in small communities, the schools are the center of the community and school leaders have to work to involve parents and community members in learning opportunities and events. As students go into Middle School and High School, parent involvement becomes even more important but this is the time when parents often become less involved.

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  5. With the variety of media and communications now present in our society, news travels fast so it is more important than ever to be proactive and clear when communicating with parents, community members, and local organizations. Taking advantage of social media is an efficient and effective way of communicating. As the article mentioned, many times emotions play a large part in public perception, often due to a lack of understanding or a lack of information. Schools must be proactive in spreading information regarding changes that will affect a group or groups of people. Most importantly, I believe school leaders must have good relationships with the community they serve in order to boost community involvment and to help spread the word about the good things going on in schools. A communication plan is very important so that school stakeholders know the process for spreading information with the community and local media. A clear and efficient plan for communicating will ensure that accurate information is conveyed to the public and negative feedback can be handled appropriately.
    A school without a good communication plan is going to create an environment of frustration for staff and administrators. In the same way, parents, local organizations, and community members have a big stake in the success of local schools and the students. Without a good communication plan, information that is shared may be unclear and inaccurate.
    As Principal there are many strategies that can be used for communication and to increase parent involvement. One of the most important things, in my opinion, is creating a culture within the school and community of high expectations for learning and promoting the idea that a child's education is a partnership between home and school. This is somthing that takes years to accomplish and somthing that must be constantly promoted and publicized but I think this culture will naturally increase parent involvement. Another way to get parents more involved is to create and look for ways they can volunteer in the school and at school events. Some parents are excited to volunteer to help children with instructional activities in the classroom but this is not for everybody. There are many educational extracurricular events and sporting events that appeal to a wide range of people and offer opportunities for them to be involved. It is important for the school to communicate these opportunities clearly and in a timely manner. A third way to keep parents involved once they are participating in school activities is to simply show appreciation for their time and efforts. I think a lot of people stop volunteering because they don't feel appreciated. Simple things like thank you cards, providing lunch for volunteers, or offering tickets to sporting events are easy ways to show parents that they are important to the school. When trying to increase parent involvement, "if you feed them, they will come". Events where food is provided tend to attract more parents and is a good way to get them in the door where other opportunities for involvement can be presented. Events that are fun and don't seem like work such as family nights, father-daughter dances, field days, among others are great ways for parents to participate in school activities and have a good time with their child. These events can include activities that are educationally focused in order to make learning fun. Finally, open communication is important when trying to increase parent involvement. Opportunities for involvment should be communicated in many ways such as the school website, social media, the local newspaper, and school newsletters that are sent home with students. It is important for school leaders to recognize that all parents don't have access to all forms of communication so they must meet the needs of those parents and not do only what is easiest for the school. These are a few ideas that can help boost parent involvement in schools and strenghten the home-school relationship.

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    1. Chad,
      I too think that using social media is a necessity in this day and age. Many times, kids know about something that happened at school before I do, and I teach there! I think that unless a school/district has a set formal plan, it is very difficult for the principal/teachers/staff to know how to respond when a situation comes up. I also think promoting the idea that education is a partnership between home and school is a must. It is next to impossible to achieve everything we need to achieve with our students without the help of their family.

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    2. We have found that many students do not follow our school facebook or twitter for fear that we will see their posts. Parents, however will and this can prove beneficial for communication. We also have a webpage designed specifically for parents to view to keep abreast of the current events.
      Martina Skidmore

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  6. Emma,
    I agree that honesty, integrity, fairness, and a caring personality are crucial and something that can not be faked. Communication involves listening and school leaders must be willing to listen to those we serve. I also like your point that we have to be honest, talking about not only the positive things going on, but also the areas for improvement.

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  7. The video and the text give a lot of light to the need for effective communication between the public and the school. As a student, my mother hardly ever knew what was going on in my class or my school. Once a year, the open house was the way to get to know the teachers. Other than that, it was hard to know what was going on. Schools need to work hard to keep parents and community members in the mix and help them to understand what the role of the school is and what is the mission of the school. When you have two way communications, then the school can understand what the community wants from the school and the school can work to achieve the goals of the community around it. Schools need to embrace what they have around them and be willing to use it as much as possible. In the budget constraints that we are facing today, we need the community on our side and need them in our corner. With good communications, the school can work with the community to ensure that the students have what they need to be successful. School leaders need to find every way possible to stay in touch with the community and ensure that everyone is on the same page. Whether it be a newspaper, email, or even a tweet. Everyone needs to be on the same page and understanding each other.

    Steven Branim
    EDIL 679
    Summer 2
    Ballestero

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    1. Steven, I really like your five different activities that you would implement as principal to build those strong relationships. I love having the event calendar and publishing it to a local newspaper. That is a great idea! I know that when I was a kid the exciting thing to do was to check the newspaper to see what the lunch menu would be for the week, this would be even better. Then, parents could even cut it out and put it on the fridge to help them remember when big events are coming up, like school picture day and any field trips. I also like your idea of incorporating social media into your plan. I feel like that is definitely a growing trend and would appeal to a big part of your audience and it has the potential to provide lots of information to people. I also love the “open door policy.” If you want parents to feel welcome in your school that is one way that you can have them feeling welcome right off the bat and you’re handling it right with requiring background checks for your volunteers too. This lets parents know that you want their involvement, but that student safety is still your top concern. Great points!!!

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  8. John Liles, EDIL 679, Summer II 2012July 4, 2012 at 8:08 PM

    Between the video and the overview written, a lot can be gained by one wishing to improve their school’s image and communication. The values and integrity of a school is always at issue and it is necessary that administrators and faculty keep a continuous vigil on the image of the school and strive to positively promote their school in the community, including business, students and parents. Too often as teachers we air our dirty laundry in public, we may keep it professional and not mention names, but we fail to promote our school’s achievements in the same manner. If everyone would share the positive accomplishments of our schools dramatic change can start to occur within both the school and the community. I have a friend that I attended high school with that questioned me about whether or not to send his children to our middle and high school, because of rumors he had heard about alcohol and drug problems circulating in parent circles, this is a remarkable example of how a negative image of our schools are promoted in the public eye. In reality, most (99%+) of the incidents that may occur with drugs and alcohol happen after or before school on the parents watch and very few occur in the school itself, but in the public eye they would think that there is a drug dealer at every other locker and the soda machines dispense beer. As educators we need to watch what we say and not add to the embellishment of negative public opinion by misstating or exaggerating a situation.

    Relationships are also and important part of the school dynamic. Effective leadership, begins with a principal that takes time to get to know their faculty and staff members on both a professional and personal level. From this effective communication can begin to occur and issues dealt with more swiftly and appropriately by not just one or two but by committees. However we need to strive to expand our efforts to not only our school but to students, parents and community members, because what happens in our schools affect far more than we traditionally view. Principals cannot always communicate to every single person in the community, but they along with the school’s faculty promote the school and touch base with many community members by attending community functions, publishing articles in the local paper, and setting up web pages, facebook, and other social media accounts to spread the message of the school’s vision.

    Another issue with communication is taking time to listen as an administrator, too often we are just throwing out our views, goals and visions to others without taking time to see what they community wants to occur. The location of the Toyota plant in Georgetown, KY is a good example of positive community relations and took an effort exerted by county and city officials including the school board and superintendent. Superintendents should actively seek out ways to be involved in the recruitment of industry and businesses into their communities, as one of the contributing factors that most corporations look into are the schools and the types of students that are produced.

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    1. Continued....

      Research indicates that our students and increasingly their parents are using the internet to communicate in new and different ways not just through e-mail and webpages. Approximately 50% of those involved with school get their news online, yet fewer than 5% of schools have active websites that are regularly visited, largely due to lack of continuous upkeep and sharing of information. Anything that is released to the public, should be accessible through the school’s website and should be routinely updated every few days. Also, schools should create social media sites to share positive messages and news of upcoming events with the public.

      The five actions that I would take as a principal to encourage more involvement by parents would be
      1. Ask that faculty think before they speak in public, making sure they portray our school positively.
      2. Invite the community and parents into the school for a fun event, with a positive message about the
      school imbedded into the event. The event could be a concert, car show, ice cream social, etc….
      3. Require that faculty be in contact with parents of both good and bad students and to always deliver
      negative news such as forgetting to do homework with at least two positive messages.
      4. Create up to date webpages and social media accounts that are updated on a daily basis of upcoming
      events, sports scores, club happenings, extracurricular achievements (FFA, 4-H, etc..), etc….
      5. Publish in local newspaper many of the same accomplishments in No. 4. Also, post flyers of
      upcoming events in local businesses, organizations, and gathering places encouraging others to
      attend and celebrate our students.

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    2. John,
      I like your idea of posting flyers to get attention. Usually when we do something it is put in the local newspaper (of course not everyone purchases that paper)and that's about it. Rarely do we see anyone in our school unless they are a parent or grandparent of a student who is going to be performing. I would love to see more people from the community welcomed into our school building. I think that would go a long way toward building a positive public opinion.

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    3. I realized that I forgot to answer the second portion of the forum discussion on how would a school without a good "School and Community Relations Plan" function? Without establising a plan to build relations within the community, the school will likely see many nagative effects such as decreased public awareness of important programs, an increase in discipline issues among students, and a general lack of understanding of the importance of education to name a few. Many schools do not actively participate in planning with a community properly and many individuals in communities are disconnected from the local schools, and it is important to do both. As many businesses and industries scour the country looking for sites to relocate or expand to, one of the important aspects they look at are the adequacies of the population, especially skills, most of which are related back to education. A corporation that has a high demand for employees with college degrees would be less likely to locate in an area with a rudimentary education program where fewer than 25% of graduates even attend college, also an industry would be less likely to locate if there is not a strong foundation of vocational programs in place to support the training of future employees.

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    4. I enjoyed reading your post and replies John! I particularly liked the list of actions that you would take, your second one particularly. So often we get caught up in the business of the school that forget to have fun. These kind of events improve culture and increase community involvement and morale. Having at least two of these events, each preceded by a large amount of advertising, would be ideal.

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    5. You've clearly thought a good deal about this communication, plan, John Liles. I also see that you are willing to embrace the varied means of communication that our students use. I believe if we don't adapt technological means of communication into our plans, we'll lose our "constituency." (Please forgive me for my O Brother Where Art Thou moment. I always have flashbacks of the politcos' efforts to "mass communicate."

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  9. Part B and C of Forum #1

    B. I really believe that a school without a good school community relation would function poorly in many different ways. When it comes to information distribution, there would be a lack of information being shared and it would be hard to fully know what was going on and being in the know. Parents and community members would constantly stopping in and calling to get information. With an effective plan in place, then these people could use the different modes of communication to get in the know. Also, without an effective plan in place. It would be hard to let the community know the mission of the school and goals that it has set. With effective plans in place, then the school can get out this information and the community can understand where the school is going and put its resources into play to meet the mission and goals of the school. Many times the community has no idea what is happening and does not know that the school is in need of help. With a good effective plan, everyone is on the right page and able to work together to meet the mission and goals of the school and community.

    Part C
    1. I would produce an event calendar for the school and distribute it to the parents and community. I would post it in the local newspaper and have it at the communities disposal. I would push for the community to get involved in all aspects of the events on the calendar.
    2. I would create a school website. On this site, the school would open it self up to the community and give vital information and also introduce the staff members to the community. On this site, I would have a blog spot to announce news and information about the school and students.
    3. I would create a facebook page for the school. I would open the page and ask all staff members and parents to friend the link. It would make it possible for the teachers and parents to keep in contact and be able to communicate in different places other than on the phone or face to face.
    4. I would create a Twitter account for the school and staff. This would open a new place for parents and community to get information and news about the school.
    5. I would also create an open door policy for the school. Parents and community members would be encouraged to come into the school and volunteer and work with the school to create a positive environment for the students. All community members would be aware of a need of background check. Once this is completed, community members would be invited to help out the school in way that they could. This would bring the community and parents into the school and let them see what is happening behind the scenes. Throught this, the school would get help and support from the community.

    Steven Branim
    EDIL 679
    Summer 2
    Ballestero

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    1. Great post Steven. I agree, I don't remember my parents getting much communication from my schools and I believe they rarely went to the school use I had a band concert or something like that. We need to get parents in our buildings more. Many of them today need the help from us just as bad as we do from them. You have some great ideas for improving parent support. Every school needs an event calendar and I really like the open door policy. Our schools need to be more inviting to the parents and community.

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    2. Good ideas for improving parental and community involvement. I've noticed that most schools have websites but the information posted is usually very good and up to date or there is very little information and it hasn't been updated in months. Schools need to realize that a website it a very cost effective method of communication that is convenient and preferred by many parents and community members. Facebook and Twitter are also great ways to communicate since many people check these sites multiple times a day and then the information is spread by word of mouth. Schools have to adjust the way they do business to meet the needs of those they serve.

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    3. Nice post Steven. I liked your list of 5 actions that you would take, especially number one. As simple as a calendar may seem, it's effect on communication is powerful. Having been in a system that lacked a monthly calendar, teachers and parents were caught off guard with numerous school activities. This often resulted in frustrations and an increasingly negative morale. A simple calendar would have kept everyone in the loop and prevented negative morale. Good point.

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  10. Elizabeth DeatonJuly 5, 2012 at 12:55 AM

    Communication is the key to a successful school year. The blog and PowerPoint presentation reinforce the need for a communication plan within the school. The goals in place for the upcoming school year are goals in which all school administrators should aim to meet. The brief bullets of the goals express not only the goal itself but the importance in order to have a successful functioning school.
    A school that has a poor relationship with the community is setting itself up for failure. The community will continue to have misconceptions of the school itself as well as the staff. The lack of a communication plan creates multiple opinions of what should be best for the student, so then therefore little is achieved. When the accomplishments are achieved they then would not be as valued to all members of the child’s life as it should. It also creates community members who view the school and the community itself as two different outlets instead of working together. The school without a great relations plan would lose the support and help needed in order to run an effective school.
    In order to encourage parents to get involved with school affairs I would have my teachers make at least one positive contact with the family in the first two weeks of school. This would assure that the teacher has said at least one positive thing about their child and the parent would feel more comfortable knowing the teacher enjoys their bundle of joy. I would also host parent teacher conferences in which I am in the hallways talking to parents and gathering their input. I would also setup a survey in the computer lab in which I would encourage parents to take before leaving the building (I may offer gift cards, etc. to get more parents input). Also before ever meeting with a parent about the student I would use infinite campus to find out the parents name, the child’s demographics, in order for the parent to feel more personable during the conference. I would also setup a volunteer program in which parents can come during school hours on their own time and volunteer within the school. This allows for the parent to feel as though they are aiding in their child’s education and develops a relationship between the teacher and the parent in which the teacher is grateful for the parent. I would also implement a school newsletter in which would be emailed to parents on a daily basis to keep them informed of what is happening at school and how they can participate in the school functions.
    Elizabeth Deaton
    EDIL 679
    Summer 2
    Ballestero

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    1. I enjoyed reading your post Elizabeth. I agree that a school that has a poor relationship with the community is setting itself up for failure. That is also something that a school can not fake, it will back fire quickly. You have some great ideas about involving parents. I like your idea making sure you are using infinite campus to get student info and emailing parents a school newsletter.

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  11. EDIL 679
    Summer II
    Sean Bailey


    Consistent, positive, and honest communication with all stakeholders in the community is crucial to a school's success. With any of the three absent communication becomes ineffective and potentially damaging to the school and community relations. When a school communicates on a consistent basis the underlying message to the community is that the school is transparent and is inviting to community involvement. When consistent communication is absent the community will form their own "opinions" about the school and are discouraged from any involvement with the school at all. A "School and Community Relations Plan" should clearly stipulate a 10 to 1 rule, 10 positive for every 1 neutral or negative . A school that celebrates small successes is destined to celebrate major successes.

    A school that lacks a School and Community Relations Plan functions blindly and with false purpose. In rural Kentucky and even many urban areas, the effective school is the hub of the community serving not only as a school but as a community center. A bell ring at the end of the day should not denote a closed building, but rather an opportunity to invite and embrace the community. An isolated school most often results in an ineffective school.

    As previously stated, community involvement is pivotal to a school success. As a principal I would take the following actions to ensure that it is taking place.
    1. Form a committee consisting of parents, teachers, and community volunteers that will oversee and ensure that good effective communication is taking place.
    2. Create strong relationships with local media outlets.
    3. Inquire with local papers about creating a school section in their papers, allowing students and teachers to publish their articles.
    4. Create social media pages for the school. You’ve got to meet the people where they are for the best customer service.
    5. Contact community leaders, pastors, etc and share with them that we want the school to be a community center and encourage the use of our facilities according to district policy,

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    1. Good post Sean. I really like the 10 to 1 rule. You are absoultely correct about the school being the hub of the community and it should be. If it isn't then there is a problem in that school with it community relations. You have some great ideas for involving parents, I particularly like 1 and 5.

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    2. Sean, you had some wonderful ideas for your five different implementation plans. I love your first idea of creating a committee that would have a different population of people to represent your varying groups of communities. I think that would create some effective communication too because it would really give you some insight into how those groups feel like the school is doing. I also couldn’t agree more with creating strong relationships with media outlets. If you can get into a good relationship with the radio, local television station, or even the newspaper that is going to be some wonderful public relations opportunity to build and represent your school. That ties into your next point about having teachers and students publish some articles. I think that would wonderful to five them the opportunity. This past year one of my fellow teachers had a student each week post on her website their view of the school week. She asked them to tell about what they were learning about, what they enjoyed, what worked, and what didn’t. Parents loved checking each week to see if their student was the weekly reporter, it was like an up-to-date student of the week situation. I love getting the students involved. Great ideas and points!!!

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  12. A. The video and text on this blog brings up some very important points on building a strong school relations plan. I personally think the two most important aspects of building and implementing this plan is building relationships with students, parents and the community as well as making sure the communication is a two way process. Some very good points in the video talked about admitting to your mistakes and learning from them. When parents and the community have suggestions for the school really listen and use them. It will make a huge difference in the schools image and you will begin to involve all stakeholders.

    B. I believe a school without a school and community relations plan would function very poorly. The school as a whole would probably have a very negative image in the community and parents would be very hesitant to volunteer. As a result the entire school would suffer along with student achievement.

    C. I would implement the following five actions if I were the principal of a school to get parents involved in school affairs.
    1. Work to make the school as inviting as possible. Warm inviting look to the front office, stress excellence manors to any one in or working in the office. Open door policy.
    2. Employee the use of as much social media as possible. Facebook page, twitter, school and teacher websites, and mass email and phone lists.
    3. Have at least one event per month that invites parents into the school building in the evenings (If possible more events). Get grade level, depts., content areas to have special programs to involve parents. Festivals, special programs, conferences.
    4. Have at least one event per month that invites parents into the school building during the school day (If possible more events). Special breakfasts, lunches, school wide assemblies, awards, or field trips.
    5. Implement or encourage parents to sign up for our volunteer program, PTA/PTO, SBDM, and school events.

    David Fuller
    EDIL 679
    Summer II 2012

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  13. G. Keith GriesserJuly 6, 2012 at 12:23 AM

    Comment on this web article:
    I think this web page captures the essence of what schools should be trying to EMBRACE rather than avoid. The resistance to social media by school officials is disappointing to me. There are many places where it is forbidden for teachers or administrators to interact with students on facebook or Twitter. I believe the use of social media can be a huge positive in the learning experience of the child as well as being an enhancement of school-community relations. I also believe the web page author hits the nail on the head by suggesting that we have to work hard to form two-way communications with the community. With the vast array of family dynamics/socioeconomic status/computer access that our school families possess, there is not one single method that can cover everyone. We must differentiate our communication methods just like we differentiate our classroom instruction - if we want to be the most effective.

    How would a school without good School and Community Relations Plan function? I believe that a school without a good school and community relations plan would struggle. With the negative sensationalism local media tends to embrace, it is vital that the school works to portray itself in a positive, meaningful way to the community it serves. In the same way, a school that wants to flourish must have a plan where all stakeholders are encouraged to give both positive or negative feedback in a constructive manner. Not all communication must be two-way, but an overall feeling of two-way communications must be established.

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  14. a. I think both the video and the blog are correct in the strategies that are presented. LIke the author I think social media can and will be a major advantage with parents and other stakeholders. This communication will lead to what I think is the most important part which is building meaningful relationships with individuals in the communities and with the parents of our children.
    b. Without a well structured communication plan a school would not be successful. Communication in and out of school is critical to the survival and effectiveness of a school within a community. A school that does not communicate is one that is going to fail. Schools today must communicate with everyone in a community and not just the students and their parents but all the other stakeholders that make up the schools serviced community.
    c. As a school principal I would encourage communication in 5 specific actions:
    1. Development of a social media outlet so parents and other community members can have information at the touch of their hands.
    2.Create and inviting school atmoshpere in which guests are comfortable with coming to and visiting school.
    3. Create a newsletter which will serve as a invitation to everyone in the community and share the great things that are going on at school.
    4. Invite community members and parents to school for specific functions and activities where they can feel a part of the student's education.
    5. Encourage the faculty and staff to interact with parents and other members of the community.
    Ben Fritz
    EDIL 679
    Summer II, 2012

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    Replies
    1. Nice post Ben. I very much agree with you about social media and the potential it has on improving communication. For the past several years educational systems have been timid about using social networks as a means of communicating, it is time that changes. To be most effective a school should meet the people where they are, and if Facebook or Twitter is where they are then embrace that.

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  15. I love the video posted here; I am also sharing this link with others. So many great points are made in the video and the blog. I am very interested in the topic of communication in schools, parent and community involvement and the possible effects on school culture and student achievement. My personal experiences have shown me that community relations is, or least should be, an important issue in all school districts. I am part of a school district that is growing and making amazing changes; Those changes are obvious to me and others within the school. But it takes good PR to demonstrate that to the public, otherwise the reputation of schools will not change. Thanksfully, I think it is a priority in my district to share the great things happening with the public. The other issus that stands out to me is the social media topic. There is no better way to get the attention of studenst and parents than with a tweet or facebook post. You can drive through your community or local Walmart to see the number of people checking thier electronic devices or updating their status. I think that this less formal type of communication also makes parents feel more comfortable with the school and the principal. The only problem is the negative way that social networking sites in schools are depicted in the media. The only way to change that is to use if for progress and share that progress with the community.


    I can easily respond to quetion, "How would a school without a good 'School and Community Relations Plan' function?" because I have been in this type of school. It is certainly not an atmosphere where students, factulty, staff or community grow and flourish. The enviroment can become toxic and people develop a "why bother?" attitude.

    c. Five specific actions that I (as the principal of the school) would implement to encourage parents to get involved in school affairs?

    1. I would start the year off on the right foot by having a "Back to School Bash" and invite students and parents. It would be a fun atmopshere with games and prizes and a "volunteer drive" to get more parents inside the school.

    2. I would start a newsletter that could be sent home with students and electronically that shares important events coming up that parents would be interested in being involved with.

    3. I would create an inviting atmosphere in the front lobby and building office that includes a parent area where parents feel welcome. I would also have a "celebration and suggestion box" to allow for more two-way communication.

    4. I would create school/team Twitter or Facebook pages. As long as these sites are controled, it could be an amazing means of two-way communication.

    5. I would conduct regular surveys that give parents the opportunity to share thier feelings about the school. I would share that data and create a commitee made of teachers, students, parents, and community members to create a plan to address the issues.

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  16. I love the video posted here; I am also sharing this link with others. So many great points are made in the video and the blog. I am very interested in the topic of communication in schools, parent and community involvement and the possible effects on school culture and student achievement. My personal experiences have shown me that a community relation is, or least should be, an important issue in all school districts. I am part of a school district that is growing and making amazing changes; Those changes are obvious to me and others within the school. But it takes good PR to demonstrate that to the public, otherwise the reputation of schools will not change. Thanksfully, I think it is a priority in my district to share the great things happening with the public. The other issus that stands out to me is the social media topic. There is no better way to get the attention of studenst and parents than with a tweet or facebook post. You can drive through your community or local Walmart to see the number of people checking thier electronic devices or updating their status. I think that this less formal type of communication also makes parents feel more comfortable with the school and the principal. The only problem is the negative way that social networking sites in schools are depicted in the media. The only way to change that is to use if for progress and share that progress with the community.


    I can easily respond to quetion, "How would a school without a good 'School and Community Relations Plan' function?" because I have been in this type of school. It is certainly not an atmosphere where students, factulty, staff or community grow and flourish. The enviroment can become toxic and people develop a "why bother?" attitude.

    c. Five specific actions that I (as the principal of the school) would implement to encourage parents to get involved in school affairs?

    1. I would start the year off on the right foot by having a "Back to School Bash" and invite students and parents. It would be a fun atmopshere with games and prizes and a "volunteer drive" to get more parents inside the school.

    2. I would start a newsletter that could be sent home with students and electronically that shares important events coming up that parents would be interested in being involved with.

    3. I would create an inviting atmosphere in the front lobby and building office that includes a parent area where parents feel welcome. I would also have a "celebration and suggestion box" to allow for more two-way communication.

    4. I would create school/team Twitter or Facebook pages. As long as these sites are controled, it could be an amazing means of two-way communication.

    5. I would conduct regular surveys that give parents the opportunity to share thier feelings about the school. I would share that data and create a commitee made of teachers, students, parents, and community members to create a plan to address the issues.

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    Replies
    1. Ashley, we had several of our five implementation plans in common. I also agree that by having a “back to school bash” would be a fun, relaxing atmosphere to ease back into the school year. I think that by having something fun like that at the beginning really does help parents and families see that we do have their students’ best interests at heart. Not every day will be rosy, but it is important to make it as enjoyable and fun as we can for the students. I love how you included having the volunteer drive to get people involved. That is a great idea. Gain volunteers and provide information about getting involved. Even having a hand-out for ways to get involved that accommodate all kinds of parents. I have parents every year that say they would get more involved, but they work too much to come in or work odd shifts or have young-ones at home. There are so many ways they can get involved without being always present at school. I think volunteers need to be “thanked” for what they do from the smallest effort to the largest. I also like your suggestion box idea giving some way for two-way communication to take place. Wonderful ideas!!!

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  17. Bethanie Henry
    Forum 1
    EDIL 679-Summer II
    July 6, 2012

    PART 1 AND 2 of Forum 1

    1. Absolutely loved the video and the five points that Mark represented in his blog. You can definitely tell that he wants to make improvements and keep progressing. He knows how he is going to handle successes and failures, but the best part is he has a plan to keep moving forward no matter what is going to happen and I really admire that. You can hear how positive he is and how motivated he is to keep going and make things better and better each and every day.

    2. A school without a good “School and Community Relations Plan” would not be as successful as it could be and wouldn’t live up to very high standards. In order for a school to be successful, the number one thing it has to have is an open two-way communication plan. Without such a plan, then the school is essentially just spinning their wheels and not going anywhere. People deserve to know what is going on in the school and know what is happening with their own children (if they are in the school) and their tax money. Besides that, a school needs their community to back them and become vested in what they have to offer. Nothing is as great as having a community standing behind a school with their support and offering their assistance. Children are really the future and it is essential that a communication plan be in place so that everyone can help each child have the best possible chance to make something with their life. Just as it mentions in the book “It Takes a Village,” it truly does take a community to raise a child and without a relations plan between the school and the community, that child is going to miss so much potential support. I truly believe that in order to keep moving forward this relations plan has to be there for the school.

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  18. Part 3 of Forum 1

    3. If I were a principal of a school I would do a variety of things to get my parents involved in school affairs. 1-I would do an activity that my school already does and I would have a beginning of the year Open House. We do an ice cream social at my school and we open it up to all of our students and their families. This gives the students a chance to meet their teacher, see their classroom, pick up yearbooks, go visit past teachers, have the potential to win some awesome door prizes, and enjoy a family night with ice cream. I think if you start the year off right, then parents feel very welcome. I would even have all the families go to the gym for the first ten minutes of the evening and just welcome them back and give the families and students a few little sneak peeks of what the year has in store. I would also make sure that my families and parents felt very welcome at the school and let them know how important their child is to our school and every single faculty member. I would start building that family feeling.

    2-I would periodically through the year have family friendly events where parents felt welcome to come into the school. I would have literacy and math nights, open houses every grading period so that parents could talk to the teachers about their student’s grades, technology showcase nights, student work showcases, and even some fall or spring festivals. I would make sure to have food there so they could come and eat as a family and enjoy an evening together. Also, I would ask any community supporters if they wanted to donate anything that I could give away as prizes and then invite them to come so they can be recognized and thanked by the whole school for being so generous.

    3-I would be in constant COMMUNICATION with my parents. I would be sending home newsletters indicating up-to-date events and what is coming up. I would use the phone bank to record a message telling families what is going on in the schools and then have called out to all of the phone numbers that I have for my students. Also I could do the same with sending out emails to those families that I have emails for. If managed correctly, even including some of those social media sites, might not be a bad idea. I think it would be really neat to communicate in as many different ways as possible to try to reach as many parents as I could.

    4- Another activity that I would implement would be a “thank you” lunch or breakfast for all the volunteers from all the different classrooms and school wide that have helped with school events through the year. I would also try to have them some kind of a thank-you gift so all of these people know how much their support and hard work is appreciated by our school.

    5-I would get my faculty onboard with this line of thinking on a two-way communication system. I would make is so that they would have to have their website updated weekly and send home newsletters monthly. That way the parents are receiving information from me about the school activities, but they would also get individualized information from their child’s teacher as well.

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  19. This was a great video clip. Communication is only effective when it is a two-way street. As a school leader, we must strive to collaborate with staff and stakeholders.

    Jerry Allen

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  20. Surely, it is imperative for a school district to have a formal communication plan. We are techno driven, and rely on one another for posting of information that does not have a week's shelf-life. Besides this, history and statistics would tell us that when you need to communicate with large numbers of people, one media outlet is not enough, nor is one stint of communication enough. It make sense for a school to have its own communication site, as well as supplementation of that site via other media.
    My communication plan, albeit sketchy, follows:

    a) Social networking is a two-edge sword, but we'd have a Facebook.
    b) Our webmaster would have a running bulletin on our our district website page of upcoming events, etc.
    c) Each school would make it a priority to have its section in the local newspaper each week. The schools would share achievements, challenges, as well as have a bulleted list of upcoming events and reminders.
    d) I would find the largest churches in our community, ask pastors/clergymen, etc to remind their congregation of parent/teacher conferences, meetings, etc. In return, I would allow those churches to post on our student-directed bulletin boards, or issue invitations to events on our facebook page.
    e) Twice a semester, I would ask faculty members to bring in their updated list of at-risk students. Our faculty would look at that list of student and determine who had the best relationship with each student, or had a personal connection with each student's family. The numbers would be divied and teachers would make phone calls, if not house calls, to those families.


    Joanne Kidwell
    EDIL 679

    ReplyDelete
  21. G. Keith GriesserJuly 7, 2012 at 11:23 PM

    Fourth - I would invite any and all community groups to use the building. I know this is a headache sometimes, but when I was teaching at a rural Scott Co school called Stamping Ground Elementary, every group in the community met at the school. There was a sense of community pride surrounding the school and I believe it was in large part because of the time so many community members spent in the building. Optimist club, Rotary, JayCees, Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts, etc. would all be welcome and encouraged to use the space.

    Fifth - I would intentionally develop positive relationships with local media members. It makes me sad that so many news stories focus on the negative things that happen (most on rare occasions) in schools. I believe it would be well worth the time to reach out to news media and ask them how the school could be more helpful to them. Ask them the kind of things that they would consider newsworthy - positive things. Set up a partnership/internship program with students and local stations to explore careers in communications.

    There are so many great ways to communicate at this point in time. To develop a great plan, it is almost as important to rank top priorities and become VERY good at utilizing them rather than having a million programs, none of which are used in a quality manner.

    G. Keith Griesser
    m1027811

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    Replies
    1. This thing is driving me crazy. It has erased my post twice now. Ugh...

      First - I would encourage the use of ELECTRONIC MEDIA which would include an updated school web page and links to social media pages for every teacher. I really like edmoto but Facebook or Twitter would also be fine.

      Second - I would utilize any mass communication tool the district had in place. In my current district we use e-communications: a tool that allows parents to sign up for emails or texts to be sent from the school. Our school uses this tool to send out a daily publication called the Titan Times. In my former district there was a way to use Infinite Campus to contact the entire district (for snow day announcements) or teachers or coaches could form smaller groups and contact specific people with a One Call message distribution system. It was very useful.

      Third I would work with the PTA to invite members and non-members to sign up for specific volunteer tasks rather than working so hard to get them to join the organization. I would also develop a survey monkey that asks parents to give feedback for ways that they would suggest their skills and talents could be utilized by the school.

      G. Keith Griesser
      m1027811

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    2. Keith,
      I think with all of the advancements in electronic media,it would be feasible for a leader to utilize this form of communication. There are some potential issues with the use of social media, but if monitored correctly then it can be accomplished with some good success. Nearly everyone is on a form of social media like face book, and I think that announcements and events can be communicated quickly while reaching large numbers of people at one time.

      Delete
  22. I really like the comment that states that the perception that people have of your school needs to fit the reality. All too often I see schools worried about the perception but not worried about the reality.

    Relationships are key in education and I truly believe that all the different relationships formed through education is what separates this profession from all the rest. The time spent, the laughs, the discipline all of it makes the education experience unique.

    In the era of technology that we now live in I think that it is a sin not to have easy two-way communication. Obviously we still need to make ourselves available in person, but the ability to have quick, yet meaningful communication is the easiest it will ever be.

    It is amazing how much change effects the human condition. And you are exactly right the biggest problem people have with change isn't the change itself but the fact that we inherently fear change.

    Sites like Edomodo now exists which makes social networking for schools a lot easier. But even sites like Facebook can be great for school clubs, classes, and extracurriculars as a way to do all sorts of things such as recruiting students for clubs, informing of cancellations, and announcing great news.

    Great and concise post!

    Zachary Musick, EDIL 679

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    Replies
    1. I agree with this as well. I know of a school that the receptionist was moved to a different position because she was perceived as being a negative person and the principal was afraid that parents would think this was a reflection of their building. I think this has to come within. One person is not going to cause this to happen.
      Communication is key! I have had so many parents say to me, "Thank you so much for getting back to me so quickly." I didn't think it was that big of a deal, but to them I guess it would be.
      I also like the idea of social networking. I had planned on creating Facebook account for my classroom. This would be an quick and easy way for parents and students to communicate with me very easily and students think Facebook is "cool."

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  23. John Bowling
    EDIL 679
    Forum 1
    7/7/12

    Part A: Go to this internet address and post a comment on this topic:

    The need for schools to have strong public relations has probably never been higher than it currently is in our country. The video and the text point out some great strategies and reasons for developing strong school public relations. In America today, it seems like every time you turn around there is something being reported about our schools that is of a negative context. In recent years our schools have been rocked by issues such as school violence, inappropriate relationships between teachers and students, low test scores, financial irresponsibility, and a host of others. While many of these issues may be occurring in different states or different districts; the reporting of these stories can still have a local impact. The media coverage that surrounds these issues undoubtedly plays a part in shaping each individual’s perception of schools today. In order to combat these negative issues and generate trust and support from our local communities, schools must develop a strong public relations plan.

    Part B: How would a school without a good “School and Community Relations Plan” function?

    It’s hard to imagine any school today being able to successfully function without a good ‘school and community relations plan’. Without a solid community relations plan, a school would probably be very dysfunctional. Parents probably wouldn’t know when to arrive for parent-teacher conferences. Parents would be uniformed of important dates, events, and times. Without a community relations plan, there would not be a way to publicize the positive aspects of the school. A school’s effort regarding student safety, wellness, and academic success would go largely unnoticed by the community, because those achievements may never get communicated to the stakeholders.

    Part C: Which five specific actions would you (as the principal of the school) implement to encourage parents to get involved in school affairs?

    Five specific things I would do as principal of my school to encourage parent involvement would be as follows:

    1. I would form a ‘community relations team’ consisting of maybe a couple of teachers, an administrator, a local business rep or partner, a parent rep, etc. The role of the team would be to explore local issues and the role of the school within those issues. Develop action plans to address issues.
    2. I would further develop our school website to communicate dates, events, and times of future events. Create a Twitter account, accessible through the website.
    3. Create a monthly school newsletter in .pdf format to be emailed to public and parents.
    4. Have more parent-nights at school (with rewards & incentives for participation)
    5. Seek out local businesses which would serves as co-op partners for our school, as we are trying to find employment avenues for our students.

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    Replies
    1. I love the idea of having more parent nights! The sad part is that we have to reward a lot of times to have a good turnout. I think that our PTA meetings need to have more activities that get the parents involved and make them feel appreciated and needed, not just a typical "meeting." Seems that the only time we have a good turnout for PTA meetings is when students are performing. I would like to see more participation and hands on activities during this time.
      Love the Twitter account idea! I had thought about a Facebook account, but I think Twitter might be the way to go!

      Delete
    2. John,
      There is no doubt that it would be possible for a school to operate effectively without a plan of communication with the different communities that make up the stakeholders of the school. I'm sure that some leaders try to run a school without a plan or paying attention to the plan that is in place, and eventually it will bite them in the rear. There is to much at stake and so many issues that can be resolved if the communication between the parties is open and inviting to a good two way communication process.

      Delete
  24. Why is my post time-stamped July 8 at 2:40 am?
    Dr. B, I swear I am posting this at 6:41 on on Saturday, July 7, 2012 :)

    Liz

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    Replies
    1. Mine was the same way and I posted at 7:18 PM on July 7th..

      Delete
    2. I had the same issue as I posted mine around 7:25 on the 7th and it says the 8th.

      Delete
  25. Melissa Clarke
    EDIL 679- Forum 1
    Summer II

    I love the video and have already sent it to my principal asking her to share during our first meeting. I don’t know how many times I have heard my principal say, “You have to keep an open range of communication. You need to make a positive connection early on, which will alleviate a lot of the negative problems you might have in the future.” We are encouraged to send home newsletters, respond to phone calls and emails in a timely manner, and to keep our websites up to date. We are also encouraged to be proactive when communicating with students, parents and the community. Because of this I think our school is perceived as having a very positive environment where our students can learn best.

    I can remember when I was in elementary school in the late 70’s (gosh that makes me feel old!) it was very odd to see a parent in the building during school hours. It definitely isn’t that way today. We tend to value parents that are willing to come in and lend a hand.

    I can’t even imagine what a school would look like or how it could function without a good school and community relations plan. With budgets cuts the way they are, we need all the hands that we can get and keeping a positive relationship between school and the community makes parents want to help out in the classroom. I think without this plan students would have fewer learning opportunities and would not feel as comfortable at school. If parents don't feel welcome, how can students feel that way? Being open and up front with students and parents is the only way to have a successful learning environment.

    To get parents involved in school affairs there are several things that come to mind without even having to put much thought into it. 1. Send home a brochure/flyer during the ice cream social at the beginning of the school year that highlights the great things we have going on in our school and encourage parents and community members to volunteer. 2. In the front office, I would have a monitor that scrolls pictures and videos of upcoming events that invite the community to get involved. 3. During PTA open house I would recognize our current parent volunteers and have sign up sheets for new volunteers to sign up. A lot of times all it takes is making people aware of the needs and making them feel appreciated. 4. I would send home newsletters and if students bring back a slip from the last page stating that they AND their parents had read through the newsletter, they would be put into a drawing for a prize. 5. I would also have a parent/student night once a month. During this time students could take AR tests and check out books with their parents, ask for additional help with homework, or simply have a 5 minute conference with their teacher. These are just a few things that give a school that open door, welcoming feeling, which I would want my school to have.

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    Replies
    1. Melissa,
      I would have to agree with you considering that it would be good for a building principal to show the video to the group in the beginning meetings of the new school year. I will as my principal to show the video to our group. I think that effective communication is often times overlooked and the best time to insert it into the fabric of the school community would be at the beginning of the year.

      Delete
  26. John Bowling
    EDIL 679
    7/7/12
    Forum 1 – Replies to others’ postings

    *Having trouble replying or commenting to postings using the blog site, so I am just creating my 3 replies in Word and pasting them into comment box. Sorry.


    Replying to Kristen Morgan:

    Hi Kristen – I like the idea of the ‘project night’ with parents and students in order to develop parent involvement. As I was reading your post, I thought about an elementary school in our district that has different service learning activities that foster parent involvement. Each grade level team was responsible for planning & hosting one school-wide service learning project during the year. For example, a friend of mine was involved in planning a ‘Treats 4 Troops’ activity in which care packages were assembled at school, with the help of parent volunteers, and then shipped oversees to the troops for valentines day. I think one of the other grade levels did something with Christmas decorations at the school. Liked your post.


    Replying to Elizabeth Deaton:

    Hi Elizabeth. I really liked your post. I like what you said about requiring teachers to make positive contacts to the parents regarding students. Positive reinforcement is so helpful when creating that two-way, positive communication with parents. I know I’ve been guilty of not providing that early-in-the-year positive feedback; and then the time comes to contact a parent to report something negative and I feel bad because it’s of a negative tone. Starting off the school year with positive thoughts is an awesome suggestion.

    Replying to David Fuller:

    Hi David. I liked reading your suggestions for parental involvement. The one that catches my attention is when you suggest having events that bring parents to the school during the school day. Establishing open communication and promoting an open door policy are great; but if there were actual planned activities that parents were invited to attend, I agree that it would create more parent attendance. Great suggestion.

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  27. steven branim EDIL 679July 10, 2012 at 6:15 AM

    Melissa,

    I agree that it is very hard to get people in the building unless they have to be there or if there is a reward. You should not have to reward the community to get them in the school to share the goals of the school. They should want to come in and help in anyway they can. That is the problem, there is a lack of involvement and the school needs to find a way to do this. It is important for the school to do this and make it work and stay in place. It can't be something that happens and then it stops.

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  28. Tom Thompson
    EDIL 679
    Fall 2012

    b.) Schools without effective school and community relations would not get the support that they need from the communities in which they function. In order to maintain support for school initiatives and taxation related to school funding, schools must have thoughtful two-way communication with all stakeholders. Schools need to know what the community needs from them as much as the community needs information of happenings within the school and district. Schools that form partnerships and maintain open lines of communication within the district and community will fair better when negative information is disseminated about them.
    c.) As a principal of a school, I would implement the follow to encourage parents to get involved in school affairs:
    1.) Have parents as members of our bi-annual advisory meetings. Parents can bring unique perspectives to the classroom due to the various backgrounds from which they come. They may also have connections to untapped resources within the community.
    2.) Invite parents and business leaders to help chaperone events and field trips. This will give the community a chance to be part of school happenings. They can gain a new perspective on school matters.
    3.) Set up internship programs for teachers within the local community businesses that are related to their particular content area. Teachers will stay abreast on current needs as well as make strong partnerships with the community.
    4.) Have community leaders involved in professional development activities. Professional development that is hosted by community organizations can play a big role in community relations.
    5.) Incorporate social media into the communication plan of the school. As popularity increases for social networking, schools have no choice but to get on board. Schools need to make use of the most popular avenues for obtaining information. They will need to stay on top of where the community gets its information about the school system and be sure that they are a part of it.

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    Replies
    1. I agree without implementing a well thought out plan a district is at the mercy of town gossip. I beleive we need to be proactive with the negatives and publish our positives more.

      Stephen Richardson
      Fall EDIL679

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  29. HBrinkman
    EDIL 679
    Fall 2012

    b) Without a good "School and Community Relations Plan" a school would never reach its full potential. A school needs to have 2 way communication with all stakeholders. Without 2 way communication, the community would not know the fine things the school is doing and/or what it needs. The school also needs to understand the community's expectations of the school. Without a good "School and Community Relations Plan" a school would not function very well.
    c)5 actions I would implement to encourage parents to get involved in school affairs are:
    1. A Parent Teacher Organization
    2. A School Booster program
    3. Academic Parent Nights
    4. Athletic Parent Nights
    5. Open House and Curriculum nights.
    6. Have parent participation on school Professional Learning Communities.
    7. Invite parents to board meetings by sending out meeting date announcements and invitations

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  30. Stephen Richardson
    EDIL 679
    Fall 2012

    B) In my opinion a school without a community relations plan is dead in the water. There would be no consistency in getting information to the community. I have always said if you work in a school your actions should be open and upfront to the public. There are so many things happening each day in our schools, without a plan we will not be able to get that information out. In the public eye perception is everything, why let someone else control your school's image.

    C) 5 actions that I would implement are:
    1. Establish a two way communications plan( parent meetings,boosters meetings etc)
    2. Create a resource guide that would include all services offered and by whom at the school to be given to parents at registration( open house)
    3. Create a website for the school and make sure all parents know there is a link on it for parent information and comments
    4. Give all parents an activities calendar, post calendar in local businesses, use radio to announce activities
    5. Establish a school news channel through local TV station and let students actually run the channel( just like news anchors)

    In the video I liked the focus on image is everything, relationships are key, two way communication, emotion plays a role, use social media. I have always used emotion, two way communication, and relationships as key components in building an Agriculture program when I was teaching. If parents and students are emotionally attached to you and your school they feel obligated to perform well for the common good. My philosophy has always been let them know you care and they will walk with you. This is true as a teacher and an administrator.

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  31. A school that did not have a good "School and Community Relations Plan" would not function very well at all. I believe that gossip would be rampant and really make for a negative attitude with community members. The negative always seems to spread much more than the positive. A good "School and Community Relations Plan" is essential for success of the school. Community members have a vested interest in the success of the school and should be informed of all aspects associated with the school. They pay taxes which in a sense makes them a partner with the school so they should be aware of what is going on. Two way communication is also a must. Parents and community members must feel like they are an important resource for the school. Making sure they are informed and making sure they know their thoughts and concerns will be listened to and taken into consideration is important.

    The five actions that I would implement as a principal to encourage parents to get involved in school affairs are:
    1. Have all teachers to make contact with their students and parents prior to the first day of school by sending a personal letter or postcard through the mail.
    2. Conduct an open house for students and parents or other family members to meet and greet your new teacher a week or two before the beginnng of school.
    3. Set up a school facebook page. (Our district recently did this and they have addressed concerns that parents have stated on there.) I think at the school level, this might work too.
    4. Have grade level showcases monthly. Each grade level will showcase their students abilities, talents, and work at an evening session where all parents have the opportunity to attend. One grade level per month.
    5. Make sure that school newsletters are going home to parents monthly and teacher newsletters are going home weekly. Make sure that the school webpage is kept updated as well as teacher webpages. Get the word out and remind the parents often that the principal has an open door policy and they are welcome anytime to come and discuss celebrations, concerns, and that they are valued as our customers.

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  32. B. How would a school without a good “School and Community Relations Plan” function?
    It would be difficult to gauge how any organization would function without a community relations plan in place. A better person to ask this question might be a more veteran teacher or administrator who had experience in schools prior to this movement. My educated guess is that the community would feel less connected and would complain more often of a lack of communication on the part of the school. Additionally, it would likely be difficult to gain support with bond issues and parent involvement.


    C. Which five specific actions would you (as the principal of the school) implement to encourage parents to get involved in school affairs?
    1. I would require teachers to begin communicating with parents via technology. Social networking is a great way to engage eager parents and at the same time, raise awareness and accountability.
    2. Teachers could also create email-to-text extensions, where teachers could create a database of each parent's cellphone and at the end of each extension, use the email-to-text wireless address. In this way, teachers can send a mass email and parents receive it as a text message on their cell (keep it short, please).
    3. I would encourage civic organizations to come to the school and see what events are happening in the school. This communication is always good for raising awareness and getting people involved.
    4. We could have a career day, where professionals come in to the school and explain their profession, how they got into it, what training/classes are required, etc. This helps community members take ownership of the school.
    5. As a school aged child, our school had a big Halloween party at night. Hundreds of parents came. The PTO was involved in many activities, parents were made a part of what was happening, and the school profited from the advocacy and fundraising.

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  33. I love the advice about communication. The one thing I do not get is about social networking. I am a technology director so I get the technology but it seems to me that the biggest places people congregate at (Facebook, currently being the biggest) tend to be filled with petty garbage and personal junk. Perhaps it is just me but I use these tools for passing information to persons I do not share any other social media site with. The ones I check daily are primarily forums and closed circles that a school could and should not use. My question is how do you properly use these big social media tools and keep the schools info away from all the trash?

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  34. a. I really enjoyed the video; some wonderful quotes that are very relevant to good relations between schools and community.
    b. How would a school without a good "School and Community Relations Plan" function?
    Without a good plan, the school would find it difficult to establish the repoire necessary for instituting changes that need community support to be successful. Transparancy is necessary and without that shared committment, it's absent, causing mistrust and negative perceptions.
    c. Which five specific actions would you (as the principal of the school) implement to encourage parents to get involved in school affairs?
    1. A parent support group, which is not always easy to do in a high school
    2. Make sure that all teachers maintain an up-to-date website that includes syllabus, assignments and any other relevant material.
    3. Utilize social media as a way of maintaining contact with parents
    4. Plan parent-teacher conferences every grading period; set these up in the arena so that the process is more efficient and parents are able to talk with every teacher they need to see
    5. Make sure that there is something in the local newspaper every single week that casts a positive light on the school

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  35. A. Schools must have a good "School and Community Relations Plan." In our society with a glut of information (not always acurate) available, a comprehensive plan must be put in place by districts and schools to ensure what is being put out about their organization is accurate and positive. A school without such a plan would be open to community criticism, miscommunication on issues and policies, and many more terrible issues!
    B. As a principal, I would implement the following ideas to get parents more involved.
    1) Require teachers to make home visits in the summer on all new students(or for high school, all new homeroom students). This makes the first parent/teacher contact positive.
    2) Require teachers to make a positive update call once a month to every parent. This keeps open communication.
    3)Utilize a school-friendly social media site. I recommend Edmodo. It is an excellent resource!
    4) Have an "open" school policy in which the school is made available for community functions. That way, people can see all of the positive things going on there!
    5) Have a group of teachers volunteer to be the PR Committee. They could make sure something positive appears on the school website and in the local paper several times a month!

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  36. Having trouble leaving comments on other people's posts. This is for the post by Micahel Grigsby: I LOVE the idea of teachers doing home visits. Not only does it implement that first parent contact, but it gives SO much information about that student and their home life.

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  37. Am I doing something wrong? Can't reply to posts. Anyway, a comment for Jason Grifeth: I too think we should utilize social media more for communication, but we must be VERY careful in the process. Using FB and friending parents can backfire because you can't control what other friends post, and that can get you into some very hot water. Better to set up a class page for parents and not friend them to your personal page.

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  38. Frank Carvell
    EDIL 679

    As a principal I feel that the five most important for parent involvement should be:
    1. Home visits. I feel that these are most crucial for new teachers just coming into the district that may or may not have an idea of the different living styles within the community in which they are now a vital part of.
    2. Social Media. The main two being Facebook and Twitter. People may be leery in using these sites a communication or interaction tool but with the proper use of each site’s privacy settings these sites amongst others can be a great tool for parent interaction/communication.
    3. Allow the community, local government hold meetings in your buildings. This is an excellent way to get people in your building who may no longer have children in school to see the great things that are going inside the school walls.
    4. Positive parent contacts. Present the challenge to you faculty and staff to make at least one call per class to a parent or guardian in a positive light. These contacts can be made either by phone, email or post card.
    5. Keep your school constantly in the public eye. By using pictures taken from your classes of students presenting, creating, or doing labs in science class these can all be used by your districts website, social media accounts, and most importantly the local newspapers to again keep people informed with what is happening within the school.

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  39. Kalaiah Evans
    EDIL 679

    I agree with the information in this blog in helping promote the school community relations plan. I agree that it is important to get the perception of the school to match the reality, effective communication starts with effecitve realtionships both internally and externally, two-way communication is vital, important that emotional feelings are addressed before change is addressed, and keeping up with social media is key to a large number of school community members. A school without a good school and community relations plan would not function as effecentaly due to the lack of ability to communicate effectively with the community. A school and community relations plan can help schools give community members information, objectives for learning, problems facing the school, plans to fix the problems, as well as achievments made throughout the year. thus, without the plan, schools lack the ability to effectivly communicate to all members of the community. Also a relations plan can help identify key communicators who can help the school district keep informed about the opinions of the public as well as cut down rumors within the community. Therefore, without a plan these types of positive actions are not possible. As the principal of the school I would implement some actions to help the communication and encourage parents to get involved in school affairs. The five steps that I would implement include, 1.) Implement an open door policy to encourage parents to discuss any ideas, questions, or conerns for the education of students, 2.) identify and utilize key communicators to help give me a feel of public opionion as well as help communicate information and keep rumors down, 3.) open the school to community members to use for buisness meetings, community activities, and other events to get people visiting the school who do not have any children in the school, 4.) use social media and traditional venues to communicate information, activities, achievments, and plans for the school to the parents and other community members, and 5.) Extended personal invitations through phone calls, home visits, social media, letters, and public outings to invite parents to help plan activities and educational opportunities that they can participate in along with students and school staff such as intermerial sports, school clubs, tutoring sessions, learning and job fairs, etc.

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    Replies
    1. Jeremy D. Howard EDIL 679 2013July 2, 2013 at 7:09 AM

      Jeremy D. Howard
      EDIL 679
      2013
      I really like method #5 of your school community relations plan. The personal aspect of parent/teacher relationships is an overlooked aspect of school culture. We as teachers/coaches often take for granted how beneficial positive relationships with our student's parents can be in the classroom, as well as during extra curricular activities. I'm also intrigued by step 2 of your plan because if the person(s) identified as key communicators were upstanding, honest, and a true friend to the school and community that step could be vital to a positive school-community relationship. But if the person(s) had an ulterior motive to try an undermine the school administration the outreach from the school to the community member could be detrimental to the overall culture. Sorry for being a pessimist on that one :)

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    2. Allen M. Varney EDIL 679July 2, 2013 at 10:23 PM

      I agree with you that A school and community relations plan can help schools give community members information, objectives for learning, problems facing the school, plans to fix the problems, as well as achievments made throughout the year. thus, without the plan, schools lack the ability to effectivly communicate to all members of the community. I like step # 3 that you would implement. Opening the school to community members to use for business meetings and activities gets more people in the school and provides a little ownership from the community. This allows them to take pride in what the school represents.

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    3. I really like your idea of opening the school for the community to use for purposes such as business meetings, etc. In many communities, the school is the heart of that community and should be willing to help with logistics such as this. It also lets the pubic see the facilities and what goes on in that building on a daily basis. I also agree that personal relationships between students and teachers is critical. The idea of homes visits is only practical if you have a "team" of teachers to. I would not want to send anyone to a home alone.

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    4. EDIL 679
      July 4, 2013
      Lea Ann Crager-Hillman
      Hi Kalaiah,
      I agree with you about the importance of two-way communication and how effective communication can help to cut down on the gossip. I think the video demonstrated the gossip point well when it stated to own up to your mistakes or someone else will and will add to it. I like your ideas of the open door policy for parents to share their ideas to increase student achievement and to utilize the key communicators to you understand the feel of the community. All of your ideas to extend personal invitations to parents to help assist with activities of the school will really help to make parents feel valued and important to the school community and more comfortable to participate.

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  40. Jeremy D. howard EDIL 679 Summer 2 2013July 1, 2013 at 8:51 PM

    In today's world I do not believe that a school (at any level) can be considered a prosperous/positive school without a specific School Community Relations plan. There are too many media outlets, both social and professional, that can paint their own picture of what a school within the community is like, and in order to counteract any negative personas that may accompany these "painted pictures" school administrators must be willing to put their selves out there so that the school's true culture is shown. Unfortunately, the majority of the news we read about schools through professional (newspapers) and social media is only the negative backlash from the people who are unhappy about certain aspects within a particular school culture. Let's face the facts, if a school's test scores are inadequate its front page news, but if a school receives a prestigious honor like becoming a Blue Ribbon School/Schools to Watch the article is usually found on page 6, 3 months after the fact, and not much hoopla is made about the situation because its expected or considered to be the norm. Again, the only effective way a school can limit negative backlash within the community is to embrace the social media phenomenon and let stakeholders know whats going on in the classrooms, the halls, and in most all intricate parts of the everday learning process. My 5-step plan in doing this would be as follows:
    1. Let it be known to all that my school has an open door policy (as open as state laws will allow for the safety of children) and encourage parents of students to be as involved as they can be during the school day, in extra curricular activities, and SBDM/PTSO/Parent led committees.
    2. Encourage teachers to utilize the social media outlets available to them in a manner that the student's parents can have access to content being covered daily in the classroom.
    3. Offer training courses to parents about social media outlets being used within the school, particularly Infinte Campus (where grades are posted), so that parents can check on their child's grades via Internet at any time.
    4. Keep the media informed about school functions via email, writing letters, editorials, etc., so that the community has an understanding of the opportunities available to their children and the positive procedures/activities conducted on a daily basis.
    5. Allow for the school building to be accessed by the community and local government agencies so that even those who may not have direct interest in the daily happenings of the school can witness the positive environment and school culture being presented.

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    Replies
    1. Allen M. Varney EDIL 679July 2, 2013 at 10:29 PM

      I agree with # 2 completely. The parents access to the content being covered daily in the classroom will allow themt to know what exactly their child is studying on a particula day. They can ask them questions about it a home and have a better understanding of what is being taught on a particular day. I also like how you will make the school accessible to the community and local government agencies to keep them interesting in what is going on at that school.

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    2. I, too, agree that utilization of social media is where school-home-community relations are at. Most everyone has a smart phone, laptop, or tablet that will allow them to see in near "real time" events that are happening at the school. This is also a great way to promote student successes and partnerships within the community. Teacher websites are also beneficial for communications and relations.

      Ed Murray
      EDIL 679
      Summer 2 2013

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    3. EDIL 679
      July 4, 2013
      Lea Ann Crager-Hillman
      Hi Jeremy,
      I am in agreement with you that the media is all too happy to focus on the negative and to give little praise for the positive. I think you social media plan would be very effective in allowing stakeholders to see the positive and wonderful activities and accomplishments that are going on within the schools in such a timely manner. I also think that educating the parents about social media and how and why the school is using it would also allow for it to become a useful tool as a way of communication.

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    4. Leslie Moyer

      Jeremy,

      I think it is a very good idea to open up the school for community use. Since many people in a community do not have children in a particular school, opening it up to them promotes ownership in the facility at the very least. The more of a connection community members feel to a school, the more likely the school can earn their support.

      Delete
  41. As far as a school without a School-Community Relations Plan, the school would have the ability to form relationships within the community, but more than likely not maintain those relationships. Schools would not be able to maintain the two way communication that is present with a plan. Schools need the support of the community as well as the community needing the support of the school. With these relationships built and maintained, only good can happen. Without this mutual support, relationships are not maintained.

    The five actions I would implement as a principal to create and maintain community relationships would be:
    1. Social Media - As a teacher and future administrator, I believe that all of the points Mr. Hardeman makes are important. I especially want to focus on social media. With the prevalence of technology, the task of keeping the community informed about events and news in a school/district are not the task that it used to be. Before the social media boom, students were given notes to take home or it fell to teachers to take their own time to make numerous phone calls home. With social media, parents and the community can be kept informed in near "real time" to the goings-on in a school. The use of technology does not stop with social media. Most teachers have websites that are updated frequently offering parents and the community a glimpse of the daily happenings in a classroom - they can even see photos, videos and student work! It is important, though, for teachers and administrators to use social media/technology wisely and for the intended purpose when dealing with professional, school related items.
    2. Implement or maintain and Open Door Policy - the community and parents need to feel that they are welcome in a school for whatever reason. Having a welcoming school with an Open Door Policy can cut down on the intensity of a negative issue if they have felt only positive things from the school in the past.
    3. School-Community Day - offering a "family" atmosphere where the community and school personnel can meet and greet informally in a relaxed, social setting allows teachers to get to know parents, community members and students on a more personal basis, setting the stage for success in the classroom.
    4. Encourage parents to become active in the school through organizations such as PTO, boosters clubs and even as volunteers.
    5. Offer times when parents and the community can share and interact through events both in the evening and during the school day such as a career day, health fair, etc.

    Edward Murray
    EDIL 679
    Summer 2 2013

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    Replies
    1. Jeremy D. Howard EDIL 679 2013July 2, 2013 at 7:27 AM

      Jeremy D. Howard
      EDIL 679
      Summer 2 2013
      I agree with you whole-heartedly that in order to maintain positive school-community relations administrators, faculty, and staff must take advantage of social media venues. Social media communication is a nationwide phenomenon that's captured America and allowed them to communicate in ways that we never thought possible in our youth, and if public schools don't take advantage of the ability to easily communicate with its stakeholders we may never be able to repair the damage caused by not doing so. I also really like the school-community day concept. Its something we use at every opportunity where I teach and it really adds to the overall culture & sense of family at our school.

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    2. Mary Alice Collier
      EDIL 679 Summer II 2013
      Involving all stakeholders is a must to improve student achievement for all. The KY Standards are rigorous and we need to enlist the parents, and community to see that our students are successful contributors to our society.
      I have been involved in two turn around school districts and the support of one community has been phenomenal. One day a week stakeholders from the community come in and read with third grade students. This is called the One on One Club. At the end of the year a reception is held for all involved. Memorable moments and connections are made and are invaluable for the students.
      Social Media is a concept in which we must be proactive and move forward with in keeping up with the technology in today's society. Community holds the key and it is about image. All schools need to look like a successful school and the minute you walk through the door you know it's a place that puts KIDS first!

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    3. Allen M. Varney EDIL 679July 2, 2013 at 10:36 PM

      I like your statement that Schools need the support of the community as well as the community needing the support of the school. I agree with this completely. It is hard for the school to function without the support of the community. The community needs and good school and one who cares about and takes pride in their community. Student doing community service is a prime example of this. They need to support the community they live in. I also like your school community day. This brings unity between all parties involved.

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  42. Allen M. Varney EDIL 679 Summer IIJuly 2, 2013 at 10:09 PM

    Allen M. Varney EDIL 679 Summer II

    In today's society with all the technology and all the social media it is important as ever to have good communication with your students, parents, community, and local leaders. School leaders have to be involved in the community. It the community does not support or back the leaders of the school than there will be problems in all areas involving the function of the school. Communicating and letting the parents and community know what is going on is critical in having a good working relatinship. Having a plan for the communication would help to easily spread any information that would be benefical. This positive and accurate information could be broadcasted instead of negative information that could spread througout different social medias. Negative information looks bad on a school and on the community that supports and takes pride in it. There are people out there that like to spread negative news more than positive information. This is why there needs to be clear and prescise information that is accessible to the community in a professional manner.
    The five specific actions that I would implement to encourage parents to get involved in school affairs would be the following: 1. The first thing I would do is make the community familiar with the school and its activities. I would invite them into the school and let them see first hand what good thing were going on the goals that our school work towards. 2. The next thing to do is make sure that techers and administrators was using social media wisely. They would need to be putting things out there that were positive and benefical for the parents,students, and community. The information needs to be school related and not on a personl level.3. I would have luncheon for community leaders once a year. These local leaders need to be involved and not just donate money. 4. Parents and the community need to have a set time to come in and voice their opinions in a professional manner. This should not always be negative. It seems when parents come into a school there is a problem. They need to come in and see and dissus the positive things that are happening. There should be an open door policy for these type of things 5. I would also have a community night. One night out of the year we would have a social outing at the school for the entire community. You could have food, games,suggetion boxes, meet and greet areas. This type of event would be free for everyone to come.

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    Replies
    1. EDIL 679
      July 4, 2013
      Lea Ann Crager-Hillman

      Hi Allen. I really like all of the activities you suggested for parent involvement within the school. I think it would be a great idea to have a designated day for parents to come to voice the positives of the school. Like you said, they are always ready to voice the negative. The luncheon for the community leaders is a great way to get them in the school to really see what is going on. Many times our local leaders have no students or grandchildren in the system, so they really do not get to see first hand how the schools need their support. The community night would be such a fun and welcoming way to break down the barriers and stigma of the school being a place that seems intimidating and unwelcoming for many parents. Accurate communication is very crucial and I agree with you that if the schools are using social media, everyone needs to be trained in how to use it appropriately in order for it to be an asset.

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    2. Allen,
      I liked your idea of the community luncheon. I would also like to suggest that they tour your facility and get an idea of what is happening in your school. This could happen each nine weeks with a different group of community leaders. That way more stakeholders are involved. Community night is a great suggestion. So many possiblities with that concept. I wish you the best.

      Andrea Daniels
      EDIL 679

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  43. Jeremy D. Howard EDIL 679 Summer II 2013July 3, 2013 at 12:47 AM

    I'm an advocate of having social outings once or twice a year as well. The positives that can come from this are priceless. It can only help improve parent-teacher relations and can also bring the staff of a school a little closer together. Making the community understand the goals of a school is also vital to success. Community members may not understand why certain content is being taught, or they may question the method in which the content is delivered, but I'm fairly certain if the majority of the community understood the school goals they'd also have a better understanding as to the structure of teaching methods in the school.

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    Replies
    1. Samantha Prewitt FrankeJuly 3, 2013 at 4:00 AM

      I agree with you about the positive effects of social media. I have found that social media keeps people informed about things going on in the district and schools. Due to the fact that we are always finding the newest technology, we should use this to our advantage in the schools. Using technology can create an environment where external sources can be involved with the schools. They can become part of the school family!

      EDIL 679 Summer II 2013

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    2. Social Media is by far the best way to keep parents and the community abreast of news and events in the school. Using social medial also allows parents to see photos and video of what is going on on a daily basis in each classroom. I know as a parent I get text updates (using Remind 101, not a personal cell phone) from my son's teacher every evening with homework and many times photos are included in these updates. What a great community relations tool!

      Ed Murray
      EDIL 679
      Summer 2 2013

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    3. I am not certain I agree with you on this. As a female high school teacher I do not want my cell number available to my students on a daily basis. I feel this could lead to trouble. I have a teacher web page for parents and students for communication purposes. I also have school email I check each evening before I leave school and first thing each morning. I myself do not feel comfortable having social media contact with students of this age group.

      Crystal Workman
      EDIL 679
      Summer 11

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  44. Samantha Prewitt Franke EDIL 679 Summer II 2013July 3, 2013 at 3:55 AM

    This blog addresses what you need in today’s society to make a school successful. It is so important that we realize that today’s culture is very different than even 30 years ago. We are creating relations with people every day at a school. As teachers and principals we are the face of the schools. We must have good communication with external sources in order to create a welcoming environment. It is the job of the school to create relationships with people outside of the school in order to create involvement in schools. That is the key to success to have involvement to share the wealth with the students finically and with their skills. To do this you must know the vibe of those who are involved and create plans for the school based on their emotions. Also using social media can benefit your school. We are a technology based world. If we can market that to our parents and partners with the school then they can stay involved and up to date with events taking place. So many times kids do not make it home with notes this can eliminate those types of problems. It does help relieve parent complaints. These concepts would help create a healthy school environment for staff, parents, students and community.

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  45. Leslie Moyer EDIL 679 Summer II 2013

    I find it somewhat ironic that many years ago, when schools were first creating communication plans, it was because the community tended to be oblivious to what was happening inside their own schools. What little they knew came from the bits and pieces their children divulged. There was misinformation, no doubt, but it was limited. Consequently, the public’s overall opinion of their schools was quite positive.

    Fast-forward 15-20 years and schools are creating communication plans to improve their public image. In our multi-media saturated world, there is an incredible amount of information out there about our schools, but much of it is misinformation. Certainly more awareness is not positive if the communication is erroneous. Today, individual schools as well as school districts must have community relations plans in place to combat the flood of misrepresentation.

    Of significant importance to any school and community relations plan is the involvement of parents in the life of the school. As principal, I would implement the following actions to encourage parental involvement:

    1. Just as many districts have incorporated instructional rounds in their schools, twice per year I would institute a modified version of instructional rounds in my school with parents and community members as guests (via invitation). This would give them the opportunity to see the inner workings of the school firsthand, from the challenges and rewards of daily instruction to the importance of special programs.
    2. I would hold at least two career days per year in which every teacher invites a special parent speaker to share their careers with our students.
    3. All teachers would send home five “sunshine notes” per quarter, containing positive news about students for their parents.
    4. As principal, I would procure a school YouTube channel for important school announcements and utilize Twitter for reminders and congratulatory messages. Of course, the traditional methods of phone casts, emails, and the website announcements will still be employed.
    5. I would hold two informational open houses per year that include student performances, student art displays, parent forums, and workshops for parents and their children that focus on topics such as financial aid and scholarships for seniors, Governor’s Scholars applications for juniors, scheduling for all students, etc. These open houses would also serve as opportunities to survey parents for feedback.

    ReplyDelete
  46. July 4,2013
    EDIL 679
    Forum 1
    Lea Ann Crager-Hillman
    The video was very inspiring and had a lot of good quotes that were very simple but hold a big message. I agree that the most important aspect of communication is to be two-way. Communication really only happens when all parties are involved in the discussion, otherwise one party is communicating and the other party is just listening. Two-way communication is really only possible when all stakeholders are willing to be open and honest to listen and respond in a constructive way to the positive and to the negative. The use of technology and social media is a wonderful way to communicate to parents and the community. More people use social media than read newspapers or watch T.V. , listen to the radio or talk face to face. Social media is an outlet to reach more stakeholders than ever before.
    A school without a good School and Community Relations plan is not going to function very productively. A good communication plan is a way for a school system to build confidence and credibility with all stake holders. But more importantly a good communication plan is effective in helping people to learn. When people have more knowledge, it becomes easier for them to give their support. Without a plan a school is going to find it difficult to gain support of the stake holders, because the stake holders are not going to have an understanding of the purposes of the school’s goals and mission. As a principal, five actions I would implement to encourage parents to get involved in school affairs would be to have an In The Know Night, to help parents to understand how vital their involvement with the school is and the many different ways that parents can be involved. With security being an issue, most systems require parent volunteers to be fingerprinted and to have a background check, if they are going to be directly working with students. I would have several days designated at the beginning of each new school year, where parents who wanted to be volunteers, could come to the school and have their finger prints and background check paperwork completed instead of having to go to the central office. I think this would be more convenient for parents and less intimidating, which might lead more parents to volunteer. The third action would to offer parenting classes monthly for parents to learn ways to help support their children at home with their learning and homework. I would have these classes offered monthly, one during the day and one in the evening to accommodate parent schedules. The fourth action would be a mentoring system at school for parent volunteers to mentor students who struggle and do not have any help from home to practice their reading, their math skills, their writing skills, or homework. The fifth would be to have student showcases and light refreshments every month during the PTA meeting to encourage parents to attend and to become involved with PTA.

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    Replies
    1. Lea Ann,

      I have to agree that with out the plan functioning it is hard to gain support from all stake holders. I also like your suggestion in holding parenting classes for parents to lear to support their child at home with homework. I could see this idea branching even further at the upper levels to help with preparation for college such as FAFSA, or testing such as the ACT. Even to how to help prepare their child for classroom assessments. Nice job.

      Andrea Daniels
      EDIL 679

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    2. Catherine ButlerJuly 8, 2013 at 1:21 AM

      Lea Ann,

      Being a teacher and a mother of three children, I struggle with wanting to attend the school activities such as parent/teacher conferences for my children. I attribute this lack of enthusiasm to not wanting to go back to school after being there all day. So, I believe it takes lots of creativity to come up with innovative ways to attract parents and community members to school. We have to have set purposes for their involvement otherwise community involvement will falter. Nice Post!

      Catherine Butler
      EDIL 679

      Delete
    3. Leslie Moyer

      Lee Ann,
      Your mentoring idea is excellent. At our school we used retired teachers as mentors and that worked out very well. I think it would be nice to utilize both parents and retired teachers.

      Delete
  47. Two-way communication is vital in creating strong public relationships within the community. There are many methods to keep this line of communication open. I have been teaching fully departmentalized 4th and 5th grade for two years. It is a huge change for students to go from completely self-contained to completely departmentalized. Through two-way communication parents and teachers are able to work together to help with the adjustment. Texting, e-mail, and the use of social media all promote communication and help in building a positive perception of the school.

    Misty Tackett
    EDIL 679
    Summer II, 2013

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    Replies
    1. Misty, I understand what your saying. At what point does the perception of the school change is one of my questions. I know at elementary it is all about the teachers. How my child is doing is based on how well he is being taught by his teachers. I have a 5th grader. I also have one coming out of the Middle School. I am basing her grades on what is going on at the middle school right now. So I think I am basing my perception of Middle school maybe more toward the teacher and administration. I think at high school it becomes student taking some responsibility, teacher, and administration. How do we as educators help with the perception of each level?

      Delete
  48. I agree with several of the points made in the article:
    Image is Important: Education has taken a huge hit in the media both with national media and local media. Very rarely is something good reported about a teacher or student. More often than not, it is something negative. Such as test scores, an inappropriate relationship, sports actions or a bulling incident even tuition increases. People have come to expect the worst from the news media when education is mentioned.
    Communication must be a two way street: Parent involvement is a must for a community and a school district to have a successful partnership. I come from a school district that does not have that communication. It is extremely hard to get any parent involvement or support. This causes problems from discipline to drop out rates. It also causes the community to not look favorably at the school district because they do not understand all the variables that goes on, which goes back to the image. It also causes your community to not support the students or staff when you do try to put on a play or sporting event which in turn comes back to impacting the students.

    I did enjoy the video and really liked some of those quotes. Found them to be very true.

    Crystal Workman
    EDIL 679
    Summer II

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  49. Part B-How would a school without a good “School and Community Relations Plan” function?
    A school without a good "School and Community Relations Plan" is like a sinking ship. The leak may be slow but eventually it will go down. The lack of a plan results in chaos, rumors, and inaccurate information being shared at the ball fields, grocery stores, and the mall. School functions are rarely attend and students are wanting to succeed but finding the path field with weeds (poor curriculum) and poison ivy (Staff). The inadequate plan is having the reverse of effect the school intended the plan to have when it was created. Without a good plan the stakeholders are all on different pages and the customers (students) are the ones who have to pay the ultimate price for the damaged goods (poor instruction.)

    Part C-Which five specific actions would you (as the principal of the school) implement to encourage parents to get involved in school affairs?
    As a principal it would be my charge to get an effective plan organized and implemented. Therefore the five specific actions I would take are:
    a.I would hold a Musketeer Day (school Mascot). This is where community memebers are invited into the school to spend the morning touring classrooms viewing what the students are learning, teachers are teaching, and any hands-on activites/labs taking place. They have an opportunity to speak with the students about what they are learning but essentially are not there to interupt the educational process. After the tour then the community memebers will debrief about what they saw and heard and then create suggestions to present to the administrative team. These findings and suggestions would be presented to the faculty for review during their PLC's.
    b.I would embrace the social media networks. The school would have a well designed user friendly webpage where all school announcements would be placed. It would also have links for each grade level information, so that if your child was a junior for example it would have information that related specifically for your child's grade level. I would also keep a Facebook page and Twitter account to help outsource information. I would also create a YouTube channel where I would make weekly announcements to keep stakeholders updated on current events of the school.
    c. I would create an app for my school that parents could download that would provide alerts for upcoming events. THis way parents could add it to their calendars and information wouldn't be forgotten in the hands of a child.
    d. I would survey my stakeholders to gather data as to which way that they would prefer to receive information and then build data bases accordingly.
    e. I would also work on building a strong PTA/PTO for our school. With an active PTA/PTO our school would have volunteers coming in and out of the building supporting our students and staff that could take the postives and share amongst the community. The quickest way sometimes to get information out is by word of mouth.

    Andrea Daniels
    EDIL 679 S2
    Ballestero

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    Replies
    1. Catherine ButlerJuly 8, 2013 at 1:10 AM

      Andrea,

      You have awesome ideas to improve community involvement in your school. Surveying the public is a great start to getting their perception of the school and develop ideas to repair community relations. I think it's essential to develop a PR committee within the school because of the immense responsibility maintaining stable PR opportunities can bring...it's just too much for one person. Nice job!

      Catherine Butler
      EDIL 679

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  50. B. How would a school without a good "School and Community Relations Plan" function? I do not the it would not function well at all. The community would not support the school and vise versa. The parent involvement within the school would be very low as well. As Parents as the vocal point of the community I am sure the image of the school would suffer as well.

    C. Which five specific actions would you (as the principal of the school) implement to encourage parents to get involved in school affairs?
    1. Parent/Teacher night each grading period.
    2. 5 parent contacts each week.
    3. Have a weekly column in the newspaper to inform and encourage parents.
    4. Showcase a monthly parent. job, volunteer work, activities ect.
    5. Web page for all schools and activities.

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    Replies
    1. Crystal,
      I like your idea of 5 parent contacts each week. We have something similar at my school but it targets absences of students. For every three absences a student has in your class whether excused or unexcused the teachers make contact with the parent to see if there is something we can do to help keep their child in school. This has helped increase our attendance rate this year.

      Andrea Daniels
      EDIL 679- S2

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    2. Catherine ButlerJuly 8, 2013 at 12:55 AM

      Crystal,

      Having a weekly column in the local newspaper is an excellent idea to increase community support. Unfortunately, public perception of schools is so negative so establishing some type of positive communication about the school for the community to read and absorb would definitely be a key element in increasing awareness of school events throughout the community. Nice ideas!

      Catherine Butler
      EDIL 679

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    3. Leslie Moyer

      Andrea,
      I really like your idea of an app to announce upcoming events. I think that the most efficient means of parent notification are those that are clear, timely, and take little effort on the part of parents to discover. An app seems like an excellent method.

      Delete
  51. Catherine ButlerJuly 7, 2013 at 11:10 PM

    Catherine Butler
    EDIL 679--Summer II 2013

    After watching the presentation and reading the content made available at the following site, http://bridgemiddle.blogspot.com/2011/07/school-community-relations.html, I am more convinced that successful school leaders are those who genuinely care about their students, staff, and other stakeholders, and aren’t afraid to show it. School leaders who manage with their heart inspire those around them and make others believe in themselves. These leaders also look to their stakeholders for inspiration and realize the value of relationships and emotional connections when working towards common goals.

    Without a good “School and Community Relations Plan,” a school can function, but it will never achieve the ultimate level of success. Schools without clear and concise plans struggle with gaining community support, so the school becomes isolated and misunderstood as it works toward the ultimate prize—student achievement. School pride is almost nonexistent. A school will never achieve greatness without a good “School and Community Relations Plan.”

    As the principal of a school without a good “School and Community Relations Plan” I would implement at least five actions to encourage parents to get involved in school affairs. Those actions are as follows:
    First, I would require my staff members to complete visits to the homes of their homeroom students. I believe this home visit initiative would have a marked improvement in my school’s relationship with the community. “Connections” made between the school personnel and families are extremely valuable in a school’s success level. Second, I would require my staff to make at least one positive contact per week to a parent/caregiver. This would be valuable in establishing a positive perception of the school and staff by showing that we care about our students and want to share positive news. Third, I would establish a social media site, like Edmodo, to encourage two-way communication with our community and its members. Fourth, I would approach each teacher personally to begin to develop relationships and let them know that I genuinely care about them. This dedication must continue throughout the school year so my staff will always trust me and realize my commitment to them and the work they do. Lastly, I would form a public relations committee beginning with a few classified and certified members to brainstorm for ideas to inspire community involvement. I think this type of collaboration is extremely important so that staff members are given a voice and a chance to work together to build a school climate where learning and working together is a priority. As time moves on the committee would grow in members by including students and community members as well as business leaders that have a vested interest in the school’s success.

    ReplyDelete
  52. Scott R SchweitzerJuly 8, 2013 at 2:43 AM

    Scott R Schweitzer
    EDIL 679 - Summer 2 2013

    I enjoyed the presentation and may just "borrow" it for the beginning of the school year meetings. The list of themes was also very good.
    Image is indeed very important. The way we appear to those outside of the everyday running of a school/district may not always be how we believe we appear. It is important to know how we appear to others so that we can address any negatives and fix those problems that may exist in the eyes of others.
    Relationships are amongst the most important factors of success regardless of whether you are a classroom teacher, support staff, or administration. Cultivating positive relationships may afford you the opportunity to more easily address any problems along the way more easily.
    One sided communication seldom brings the desired results. When cultivating trust communication must, by necessity, be two-way.
    Emotion can often get in the way of effective communication. We should strive to realize that others may feel strongly, and sometimes differently, about many topics we deal with in education. We need to take emotions into consideration when having discussions.
    I could not agree more about the importance of using social media in or schools. They should be used as part of the classroom environment and also for personal communication outside of the classroom.

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  53. b. How would a school without a good “School and Community Relations Plan” function?
    Wow, after reading all about school communication plans I am concerned that my school does not have one. They are such an important part of defining how the community feels about your school which will determine the amount of support and buy-in you get from community stakeholders. I know from expierence that a school can function without a formal communication plan so I can attest to the problems that can create.Not having a communication plan will cause a school to have poor community relationships, that may also mean low parent involvment in the PTA and other volunteer opportunities. Not having a communication plan leaves a lot of room for parents to interpret what information they do get from their students and sometimes those interpretations can lead to negative views about the school. Communication plans allow a school to control what information and in what manner stakeholders are receiving information.
    c. Which five specific actions would you (as the principal of the school) implement to encourage parents to get involved in school affairs?
    1. I would hold and open house where parents are invited to school not to be bombarded with information but to just get to know the teachers in our building. Ofter the only times we really invite parents to school is when we have to terll them something negative which is why many parents are hesitant to come, I think providing them with some positive and stress free memories may help our parents feel a little more relaxed about coming into the building.
    2. Postive Postcards from the prinicpal would be a great way to communicate with parents in a positive way. It doesnt have to be a long note, just a few words telling parents about a students praise worthy actions.
    3. Include social media, I would embrace as many forms of social media as possible to increase the flow of communication between the school and community.
    4. More "fun" school events like dances, festivals, science night and other fun but educating events.
    5. One postive phone call home per week. Encourage teachers to make one positive phone call home per week to tell parents some things they enjoy about their child.

    Heather Smith
    EDIL 679- Summer II

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  54. An impressive post, I just gave this to a colleague who is doing a little analysis on this topic. And he is very happy and thanking me for finding it. But all thanks to you for writing in such simple words. Big thumb up for this blog post.door hangers

    ReplyDelete
  55. EDIL 679 301 Fall 2013
    Shawn Moore

    A.) A strong school community communication plan is vital to the success of students. Communication must begin with the school. Schools have traditionally waited on their market (Students) to come to them. This is not the case with any other service. Imagine if McDonalds operated on this same business model. Well we are in every community people know we are here, lets just wait till they come. Ray Kroc would never had over 1 Billion Served and McDonalds would still be serving pizza. Instead McDonalds developed a marketing plan to bring people in and to listen to their suggestions. These ideas created happy meals and ended McDonalds experiment with pizza. Schools need to do the same thing. Schools must work to brand their image especially with an aging and mobile population. Parents may only be in a community on a temporary job assignment. The school must convience these individuals that their school is the best for their child. This can be accomplished through direct marketing or word of mouth in the community. Schools further must work to protect their brand image in an age of social media. The proper use of a school and community communication plan can limit the damage done on social media.

    B.)A school without a Good School Community Relations Plan would struggle to reach its stake holders. Parents, community members and students would come to view the school as a cold and uninviting institution. I believe that schools without good Relation Plans operate much like prisons. Prisons are located in every region of the country, however most people are unaware of what occurs inside the prison until something horrible occurs. The fence at a prison works to keep others out and inmates and staff in. Schools should not function this way. Schools should not create their own fences that seeks to keep the community out and locks their faculty in. Teachers like correction officers are often distrustful of outsiders. The educators perception is that the community only wants to hold them responsible for society's ills. Educators must reach out to gain the support of the community. A school without a good community relations plan hinders its faculty and staff. Since most people do not have vast experience in conducting strategic communications the school district must provide training on its end first. Once faculty and staff are trained the school can move to spreading the message to the community.

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    Replies
    1. Stephanie Harris - EDIL 679 Fall 2013September 6, 2013 at 12:30 AM

      Shawn,

      I love the analogy of comparing a prison's fence to the "fences" that many schools put up to keep their communities out. I don't know if this is intentional. I know as a principal myself, that educators are so wrapped up in getting the work done that communicating with the community is often overlooked. What I have found is that there are many community members and businesses who want to be a part of the education system and are more than willing to be involved in our schools.

      Stephanie Harris
      EDIL 679
      Fall 2013

      Delete
  56. Shawn Moore EDIL 679 Post 2

    C.) 1. I would provide survey cards in the office that parents could fill out when they entered to the office to pick their child up. This would be a simple card with the following questions: Were you treated with respect? What is one thing you think our school does well? What is one thing you wish our school did better? Would you like to be contacted by the school?

    2. I would recruit parents by setting up, MEET YOUR TEACHERS/ADMINISTRATORS by setting up tables at football games. Football games in our district get more community attendance than any other school event. These tables would be a simple meet and greet where community member/ parents would be invited to visit the school on a more regular basis.

    3. Low Tech works-Mailing home post cards and letters of recognition to students is a great way to build good will with parents. Psychologist conducted a study and found that people form an emotional response to a letter, where to most email they are passive. Sending a letter to a parent or student conveys a message that you are willing to take time to contact them. This provides a chance to invite parents to become more involved in school.

    4. I would publish the SBDM Agenda on the Web Page a week in advance. This would make parents aware of the issues we would be discussing. The parents would then be invited to speak to the SBDM as a delegation or take part in a special task force of the SBDM. This web page link would also include the protocol for addressing the SBDM. This would hopefully remove the fear parents would experience when attending meetings.

    5. Simple be approachable and visible-This cost nothing and is part of the job. IF parents see you as the principal active in the community they will be more willing to speak to you. This provides the principal the opportunity to invite parents to be involved in the school. As the principal you are the figure head of your school. You are responsible for conveying the image to parents of what occurs in your school. If you are warm and inviting parents will assume the school reflects your personality.

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    Replies
    1. Amy Smith EDIL 679 Post 1September 7, 2013 at 3:44 AM

      Shawn, I really like the idea of survey cards in the office. Then schools can make small adjustments as needed rather than sending large surveys at the end of the year, and feeling completely overwhelmed when they receive the results. I equally like the idea of postcards to students. Email has become so impersonal and a postcard or letter really allows you to build those healthy, key relationships!

      Delete
  57. Shawn Justice EDIL 679
    A. I feel that a school without a good school community relations plan would be able to sustain a small amount of success, but would have difficulty breaking through once they reached their "glass ceiling." I have been on many staffs and worked at multiple school organizations where all of the pieces are in place to be a successful school, but they attempt to operate autonomously, as if they are not a part of the local community. It becomes very difficult then to sustain any sort of success or go beyond the small triumphs any organization will experience as they begin to make improvements. I feel that the biggest obstacle for a school that fails to involve the community in its planning and success would be gaining the trust of the larger community and therefore setting up the possibility for negative attitudes and false impressions surrounding school decisions and actions. It is always much easier to explain a tough decision when several differing perspectives representing multiple groups are considered, reviewed, and revised prior to the decision being made. I also feel as a principal that it would be very foolish of me to think that I and my staff could make all the decisions singularly without considering the impact that we have on the larger community. Definitely schools must consider that it is in their best interest to create opportunities for buy-in and shared decision making of school improvement processes.

    B.The five specific strategies I use for parent involvement are:
    1. Open Door Policy for Communications: I meet with any parent, teacher, board member, student, or community member at any time needed to discuss any concern, suggestion, or questions they may have. I want all school stakeholders to know that I have the best interest of the total community at heart and if they have a suggestion or concern, I want to hear it. I want to know how they perceive things we are doing, and I want feedback from them. I always send out a personal thank you note to anyone who makes time to come and discuss any issue with me that they feel would affect the school culture and progress. And I always ask those who come with a complaint to assist me in putting together a plan to avoid any future repeats of the issue.

    2. Visibility: The principal and leadership team need to maintain high visibility throughout the school building as well as the community. This promotes a public perception of involvement not only within my building, but also within the larger community. We try as often as we can to get involved as a school in community events and welcome folks from the community to visit with us often through school events.

    3. Positive Notes: I send home one handwritten, positive student note each day to a student for doing a good deed. I get many positive comments from parents and the community that they have heard about a note I sent home with a child and how proud he or she was to have received it.

    4. Social Media: I blog, tweet, pin, and post on fb as often as possible about events going on at school. Our twitter account, just created this summer, is beginning to gain followers and generates much discussion throughout the community. Parents, grandparents, students, and just interested citizens follow us on Twitter.

    5. Transparency Through Various Media: We publicize PTO, SBDM, and many other school events on the radio, newspaper, school webpage, School Messenger, as well as old fashioned monthly school newsletters on a regular basis. We use all of these outlets to engage folks not only in things we have planned, but to also solicit their opinions and ideas about current school activities and issues.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Shawn,

      I agree whole-heartedly about being visible. Often times, principals get lost in the paperwork, discipline, or dealing with parents and ignore getting out in their buildings. Principals need to be visible not only to their teachers, but also to their parents. I always try and do morning and afternoon traffic duty to wave at parents and let them know I am here each day.

      Stephanie Harris
      EDIL 679
      Fall 2013

      Delete
    2. I agree Principals need to be visible in the building, I think this helps to put everyone at ease. All parties including the teachers, students, and parents need to have a visual of the leader every day. I also agree with the open door policy. The principal should be available to all staff and students. I feel relationships are better and school culture is always better when the open door policy is followed.

      Ashlie Thompson
      EDIL 679
      Fall 2013

      Delete
    3. Shawn,
      I really like your comment on open door communication. It’s so important to make yourself available and easy to assess when it comes to all stakeholders. I also like your visibility statement. You have to be visible, not just at school, but also out in the community. This makes community members and parents believe that you want to be a part of the community and want to be involved in functions outside of school.
      Diana Ballestero-Cline
      EDIL 679 Fall 2013

      Delete
  58. Stephanie Harris - EDIL 679September 2, 2013 at 2:04 AM

    A. I thought the video raised many interesting points. The quote, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it is has taken place.” This made me reflect over my current communication practices. Am I communicating effectively with all stakeholders? Communication is essential to rally support around your school. By keeping stakeholders informed, it will allow for open and honest discussions. I have found it is easier to communicate and share changes or information than it is to try and communicate after something has occurred. Communication is key in building relationships with parents and the community at large.

    B. Not having a communication plan could be detrimental for any school. Basically, a school is flying blindly if they do not employ a communication plan. A plan is a way of achieving a goal, and our goal is to communicate effectively with all stakeholders. By having a plan, stakeholders know exactly what modes are going to be utilized so they are aware. During the interview process I went through for my current position, results from a parent forum were shared with me. One of the top characteristics parents wanted out of their new principal was someone who would be an effective communicator. Communication is essential for any effective school system.

    C. Five strategies for encouraging parental involvement that I currently use in my role as principal are:

    1. Weekly newsletter – although this is a basic form of communication, I have found it to still be effective. I still send a hard copy home with students as many of my parents do not have access to the internet.
    2. One Call (automated phone message) – I send a weekly one call on Sunday evenings that informs parents of events that are taking place at my school for the week.
    3. Parent conferences – twice a year we have parent conferences. Parent like to hear not only ways that their child can improve but also what they are doing well.
    4. Family Dinner night – once a year, we have a free meal for families. On this night, we offer several sessions such as homework help, reading&math help, and family resources.
    5. Open House – We do 3 times a year – before school and one each semester. This allows parents and students to meet their teacher and then throughout the year, teachers are able to share examples of student work.

    Stephanie Harris
    EDIL 679
    Fall 2013

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    Replies
    1. I agree that the weekly newsletter is a very effective form of communication. At my school we send weekly letters home and the parents really like getting a hard copy of the letter. We also have many students who do not have internet access at home and posting the newsletter online would create a barrier for these parents. I also agree with the parent conferences held twice a year. Many parents are curious about how their child is doing but will not take the time to set up a conference. By having set dates for these parents just have to call and sign up for a time.

      Ashlie Thompson
      EDIL 679
      Fall 2013

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    2. Stephanie,
      I really liked your strategies for how to encourage parental involvement. What I really like about them, is the fact that you actually do those things. As one of you parents, I am so thankful to receive my weekly one call with information about the upcoming events and activities. You do a great job of communicating with the parents and I am truly thankful for that.
      Diana Ballestero-Cline
      EDIL 679 Fall 2013

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    3. Stephanie,

      Excellent ideas. I would like to expand on one of yours that I got from a survey I conducted with parents. I would often use one call to contact and inform parents of upcoming events. I was told by a parent that they did not like the automated voice. I began making the one call announcement. I found that parents/guardians appreciated hearing the principals voice. Further it also helped saying Hello, this is Shawn Moore, I am the principal...I found it gave the message higher importance. I also make sure that I practice the message and read it until it sounds the best. This may sound OCD on my part, however I want every communication with parents,students,guardians to demonstrate I am in charge of the facility and I am competent.
      Shawn Moore
      EDIL 679 Fall 2013

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  59. A. After watching the video I noticed that the importance of perception is something that I have not given a lot of thought to. As a principal you may think everything is going great when actually it is not. It is important to really take notice of what the reality is of your school. I really like the quote about illusion, this is a powerful quote. Leaders must not let themselves fall under an illusion that they have communicated effectively. I feel the way the page is has laid out the important parts of school community relations really helped me grasp a better understanding of the concept. A school must have a good up to date school community relations plan in place and follow it. Communication is one of the most important parts of a principal’s job and they must communicate effectively to all stakeholders, teacher, and students. Communication plays a key role in the success of the school. Something else I took away from the blog is relationships are very important. In order to be able to communicate efficiently the first step must be to build relationships.
    B. A school without a good school and community relation plan could not function very efficiently. The community must know what is going on at all times with the school district and individual schools. Problems should be met head on and address in a timely matter. There should always be a plan of action ready and all staff members should be made aware of it. Without a plan in place all minor problems would grow completely out of control and once it leaked out into the community, people would start turning against the school system. This could also affect attendance because if parents aren’t happy with the schools they will take their children to other school districts.
    C. 1. Parent University- My current school has implemented a parent university which meets every mouth, papers are sent home and parents are invited to sign up. This allows parents to get familiar with the building and staff. Parent University is a great way to get parents in the building and involved in their child’s education.
    2. Tweeting- I would love to create a tweet for our school to help with communication to parents and community members. The tweets would be updated weekly or when there is important information that needs to be given to the parents. This is a great way to communicate and allows them to respond with any questions or concerns.
    3. Family reading/math night- These are ways to get the parents in the school building and to make them aware of what concepts are being covered in their child’s reading and math classes. The reading and math teacher would be available to the parents during these nights. Students are invited in and allowed to take Accelerated Reading and Accelerated Math.
    4. Newsletters online/hard copy- I personally feel newsletters are the easiest way to give information out to parents. Not only should the principal create a school newsletter but staff would also be required to create weekly newsletters informing the parents of what is taking place in the classroom.
    5. Parent/Teacher conference nights- We currently do these at my school and I love having the opportunity to meet with parents and discuss their child’s progress. This would also give teachers an opportunity to discuss problem areas with students but also areas in which students are excelling. This would be set up so the teacher could first pick which parents they would like to meet with then the open times would be available to all other parents.

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    1. Ashlie,

      I really like the idea of a family reading night in schools. This is a great way to get parents involved in the education of their children. I participated in one of the events last year during the holiday season, and it was so special to see the kids 'dragging' their parents to the classrooms and showing them the things that they had achieved. Kids really want their parents to be involved with what they are doing, and events like yours can be a great way to get that started.

      TB

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  60. FORUM 1:
    EDIL 679
    Dr. Ballestero
    Fall 2013
    Diana Ballestero-Cline
    a. Relationships are key. This is a powerful statement. The important factor in this statement is the involvement of outside sources. Stakeholders like community members, board members, and central office personnel, fellow administrators in your district, students, teachers, and parents should all play roles in entire spectrum of your school. Making these individuals feel important and empowered, will only work to your advantage and make your school a better place to be. Communication is a two way process, couldn’t be a truer statement. This two way communication must take place between all stakeholders and the administration. That way you can ensure that all perspectives are visited and considered when making important decisions that will affect your school. Social media is a growing aspect of all school districts and should be widely incorporated into all areas of achievement and recognition. School districts can utilize several modes of social media to promote and communicate different announcements. It should be used as means of communication and a way to praise and recognize excellence.
    b.A school without a good School and Community Relations Plan would not function for long. This would be a great way to ensure your school did not succeed. Without a plan you will have no sense of direction and no clear vision for how you want to communicate to stakeholders. The goal of communicating effectively must be clear and concise and should be planned out effectively in a School and Community Relations Plan. This plan with help everyone understand/ know exactly how you plan on communicating important information to them.
    c.If I were an administrator at any school, I would implement the following five actions to encourage parental involvement.
    • Weekly one calls. These one calls would pertain important pieces of information about weekly activities happening in our school. It could include anything from an assembly, testing information, sporting events, or an ACT prep session. This phone call would take place on Sunday evenings. I would end it with my e-mail address, so parents could contact me if they had any questions or concerns about anything.
    • Open houses throughout the school year. We would have at least 4 open houses throughout the school year. All teachers would be required to attend. This would be a good time to allow parents to voice any concerns they may have about their child’s grade.
    • Weekly Newsletter on our website. We would do a weekly newsletter, but it would be an electronic version. We would also send it out in e-mail format. This would be very similar to our weekly one call, but only in written version. It would include information about upcoming events and activities.
    • Parent conferences. These would be done on an as needed basis and teachers would be required to document when and where these conferences took place. A guidance counselor would be required to be in attendance.
    • Daily and weekly Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram posts. We would update our Twitter and Facebook pages with information celebrating successes in our school. Our Facebook page could contain important information that pertained to our school about events and activities. Our Instagram page would be pictures of different groups, teams, students, and events in our school.
    • Remind 101. All teachers would be required to use Remind 101 as a method of communication with their students and parents. This is a simple way to remind everyone about upcoming events taking place in each teacher’s classroom. You could even set up a Remind 101 for the entire school and reminders could be sent out to parents about important upcoming events.

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    1. Amy Smith EDIL 679 Post 2September 7, 2013 at 3:54 AM

      Diana,I have to admit I was not familiar with Remind 101, but I searched and see it is free text messaging option to parents and students. This is a great way to stay in touch and communicate given our media outlets we have today. Our software program offers a texting feature, but is pretty costly each year, and this would be a great way to save $$!

      Further, I agree that "Relationships are Key" is a VERY strong statement and an important one....and so true! If we don't build relationship with all community members including students, parents, staff members, etc. we are surely setting ourselves up for failure!

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    2. I am glad that you included all stakeholders when talking about communication. I think that educators sometimes forget that they need to communicate with all community members, not just parents.

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    3. Diana,
      I also included utilizing different forms of technology in order to increase parent/guardian involvement. Remind 101 is a great tool all teachers can benefit from using. I know we use it with our students, but as you mentioned, it can be used to keep others informed as well. I think teachers and administrators need to be up to date with the different forms of technology. If teachers and administrators are not knowledgeable about the current and ever-changing forms of technology, then they are being a disservice to their students, parents/guardians and other stakeholders.

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    4. Diana,
      I really like your idea of Remind 101. I have not used it, but have recently received a few emails about it. I feel that it would be another good tool to use in an effort to increase the flow of information between school and stakeholders. Although we have multiple means of communicating with parents and community already, we still struggle to reach every family. I would be interested to know more about how many of your families rely on it as a means of their information from school. I especially like the idea of teachers using it as a classroom communications tool.

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    5. Diana,

      I am so glad that others are starting to see, and use Remind 101. It is a great tool that I have been using with the band at Montgomery County since the inception of the app. It is a great tool for sending any type of information. I have used it for scheduling, motivation, and even to just say 'Hi' to my kids during the summer vacation. GREAT IDEA!

      TB

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    6. Diana,
      I think you have some really good ideas here. Our Principal currently makes use of Remind 101. A question I would have is, "does this have a response option?" I have never attempted to communicate back to the principal via this method. Not knowing much about it, I think I will look into this further. As for the rest of your list I believe my own list is very comparable. I view parent conferences, open houses, newsletters, and social media as very effective tools for communication. The thing I worry about most is, how can we get the parents and community to communicate back? If communication is two way, how do we get the second party involved? Just something that crossed my mind.

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  61. Amy Smith EDIL 679 Fall 2013September 7, 2013 at 4:47 AM

    a. The video and blog both contain some very important information and key points. I really reflected on the question in relation to "the perception of your school"? This is such a key statement! Your image and how the community views you, as a whole, is so critically important. When you have a negative image, community members come with a preconceived idea of your school from day one! Image was included in our reading from chapter 1 and the importance and effects of image! This is especially true when you work within the private sector and you are marketing your school and trying to recruit new families! I think good leaders have to face this sometimes tough question, "What is the perception of my school"? A good leader will face that tough question and seek to find solutions for the answers that are not satisfactory!
    b. I am not sure how a school without a "school and community relations plan" would function or be effective and efficient in any way! I think about the amount of communication and different avenues my school offers, and think how it would differ without those. The school without a plan would function with very little input, support, and involvement from the community including parents, students, and other stakeholders leading to ultimate failure, in my opinion!
    c. The five specific actions I would implement as a principal would include:
    1. Host a weekly PAC meeting (Parent Action Committee) or "Pastries with the Principal" style meeting to foster and further develop two-way communication. These meetings could include updates on upcoming events and encourage parents to take lead roles in assisting with planning, setup, ideas, etc. It certainly allows them to have a voice and be involved opening up the dialogue for communication. (e.g. we are hosting a Family STEM night and one of these meetings would encourage as many parents to become involved as possible with providing them opportunities to lead, assist, etc.)
    2. Send a weekly "STAR Mail" or "Principal's Pen", etc. through something like Constant Contact or Mail Chimp with important information and events listed to keep parents updated and informed leading to further involvement.
    3. Family Nights are a great way to get parents involved. Whether this be through monthly gatherings at local chains to build community or hosting a book fair at your local book store, these are great ways to encourage parents to become more involved (by providing opportunities to build that sense of community, meeting other parents, etc.) When I was a LMS, I hosted an annual book fair at a local book store, and parents would ask me right after the event if I was going to reschedule it again for the next year because it was one of their favorite nights. Our teachers would work the cafe and serve the students and families, and it felt like a relaxed, stress-free night focusing totally on community! It really developed those relationships among our families, teachers, students, etc. and encouraged new families to become more involved!
    4. Place a link on your website to Volunteer Spot. This could include the next two, no more than more three, upcoming events (and be very visible on the homepage) where parents could sign up to be involved in various upcoming activities (e.g. open house, STEM night, ArtRageous, etc.) Focusing on parent's strengths would be a huge plus!
    5. Social Media. Host a Facebook page and keep it updated!! Let's face it, people live in a digital world with twitter, Facebook, text messages, etc. Therefore, why not utilize those resources and take advantage of them!! Create a school twitter account and twit away!!

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    1. "When you have a negative image, community members come with a preconceived idea of your school from day one!"

      You make an excellent point. We have dealt with this issue for a while in my district. Parents despise the school because they had a bad experience there and students come to their first day of high school with horrible ideas about what they will experience. Some students are encouraged by their parents to be disrespectful at school. Instead of punishing the student, we should get to the root of the problem and fix relationships with parents.

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    2. Amy,
      I agree with your post completely. Image is everything in today’s society. If the community has a negative perception of one’s school, then others from outside the community will more than likely have the same perception and it (unfortunately) will probably become a widespread problem. Reality and perception need to be equal, as the video demonstrates. If administrators put their effort into creating a school that promotes high levels of student achievement, communication with all stakeholders and a positive learning and working environment where all are equals, then the reality will result in a positive perception. Additionally, administrators wouldn’t have to work at combating a negative perception, if the reality is positive.

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    3. Amy,
      I wholeheartedly agree with you about using social media as a tool. I launched a school Twitter account this summer and posted pics and updates about the construction and move into our new building and have gotten several positive comments from parents about the information they receive there. I have also been tweeting important dates and just friendly posts about our progress this year. I also have linked my tweets to a fb account so that parents without twitter can still see it on fb. I've been surprised at how many folks mention getting the information about school events from one of these two sources rather than our weekly newsletters that go home in backpacks. As I always tell me teachers, we are living in a digital world and if we don't use it to our advantage, we will fall far behind. I know as a busy family, I would appreciate being able to check my social media accounts quickly to get important short bits of info from school, rather than having to read a long newsletter that may or may not make it home with my children.

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  62. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  63. I have found in both work and personal situations that communication must be a two way street. I think that a lot of times, teachers talk AT students and parents instead of WITH students and parents. People are not very receptive if their thoughts and ideas are not equally valued. I also agree that emotions play a large role in any type of communication. Emotions are difficult to put aside when conversations include topics that people are passionate about. As a mother, teacher, and student I am very passionate about education and get a little emotional when I feel that my child could have more and better opportunities.

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    1. The rest of my answers are on the general discussion board

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  64. Sarah Elam
    EDIL 679
    Dr. Ballestero
    Forum 1

    a. This video is very informative from the very beginning. Often times, administrators forget that there are several different stakeholders to be involved in the communication process, not only with faculty, but also students, parents/guardians and community members. Administrators must implement effective and efficient forms of communication in order to reach all stakeholders. Not only must the communication be appropriate, but it must also be a two way process. Collaboration with all stakeholders is key in running a school that meets the needs of all individuals involved. Additionally, administrators must seek for feedback from faculty, students, parents/guardians and the community. They must be open to it, embrace it and the ways that it can positively impact their school. Perception versus reality is an extremely important concept to comprehend. Administrators must assess the perception and the reality of their schools, faculty and themselves. If the perception of the school is negative, then administrators must seek to ask the difficult questions, determine why this is so and create ways to change the school. They must also determine if the perception is actually the reality or is it simply a misconstrued perception? I also agree that administrators (and teachers) should embrace the many uses of technology as forms of communication as they might change throughout the years. Social media can definitely be a dangerous tool, but if it is appropriately utilized it can shine positive lights on student achievement and the school.
    b. A school without a good “School and Community Relations Plan” would definitely not function for long. Just as teachers plan their classes, administrators must plan for communication to occur. Stakeholders must be kept within the loop of information. As soon as they are removed from being informed, problems will arise and grow quickly. Administrators should develop an effective and efficient plan so that the community and parents/guardians will know how they will be notified of pertinent information. When everyone is informed, they feel valued and a positive perception and reality will occur of the school.
    c. The following are five specific aspects I would implement to encourage parents/guardians to get involved in school affairs:
    1. Weekly newsletters and phone calls – These would serve as easy and informative forms of communication that would allow for all parents/guardians to stay up to date with activities that are occurring at the school.
    2. Utilize appropriate forms of technology – Using twitter, a webpage, Facebook, Instagram and Remind 101 are all ways to encourage more parental involvement. These are all forms of communication that allow for parents/guardians to respond to information and receive it quicker than with a newsletter.
    3. Open houses – Not just at the beginning of the school year but at least once every grading period. By increasing the amount of open houses, parents/guardians and community members will feel more involved in the educational career of their children.
    4. Family/Community Volunteering Program – This would encourage parents and other community members that may not have students at the school to get involved and volunteer in the school on a daily basis. When students see familiar faces, they will realize that other people truly care about their successes in the learning environment.
    5. Collaborative Committee – Creating a collaborative committee of parents/guardians, teachers, students (if age appropriate), administrators and other community members would allow for all stakeholders to express concerns, share ways to enhance the learning environment and definitely increase involvement. The committee could meet once every month or as needed as certain issues arise. Stakeholders would feel valued and supported, which aids administration in creating a positive school and learning environment for all students.

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    1. Sarah,

      Excellent strategies. I certainly think that open houses are an area that can be exploited for educational purposes more often. Our district has historically held open houses at the start of the school year. Being in a middle and high school environment the students will frequently change schedules because of rotations or class changes. The parent then do not have a connection with the new teacher. Parents are often "AT SCHOOL" for games, programs, picking children up. These activities ofetn have another purpose than communicating with parents. Communciation at Open House needs to be purposeful and of high quality. This year along with my assistant principal we are instituting multiple open houses. These open houses will focus on a particular theme (MAP TESTING, School Performance, Moving On, Show Case) These Open Houses will provide us another way for parents and teachers to be engaged.
      Shawn Moore
      EDIL 679 Fall 2013

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    2. Sarah,
      I noticed reading your post that we share several similar ideas about communication with parents and community. I like the Ideas of collaborative committee, but is this not the same as PTO/PTA? Most of our schools have community tools in place that are being poorly used already. Would you agree? I do like the volunteering ideas and the social media. These are excellent ideas for getting involvement out of parents and community players. I think altogether you have several great ideas. I think they would be useful in running an effective community-relations plan.
      Daniel Adams
      EDIL 679
      Fall 2013

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    3. Sarah,

      I agree with your statement, "As soon as they are removed from being informed, problems will arise and grow quickly." This goes to the importance of having a communication plan. I think a lot of schools survive because they have ideas about how to communicate and they implement those. However, I think they could be much more effective if they had a detailed plan. This would only improve the communication process and the information leaving the district.

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  65. This is a great blog post for any aspiring principle. There are four points that stand out to me, and they are perception is reality, Relationships are key, communication is two way, and critique instead of criticize. As I think of these ideas I would like to point out that if we can critique our self, staff, and students instead of criticizing them we will discover a more positive learning environment. I think this is a big issue in schools today, and it can be fixed with better selected words. Secondly I really like how you explain communication. Communication is two way, and we must make that happen. Speak without offending, and listen without defending. Next, relationships are key to success. You have hit the nail on the head with that one. You must have a great relationship with all stakeholders in your school, no exceptions. Finally, perception is reality. I have used this statement for years, and I think it is one of the most powerful in the blog. If more people would focus on that as a starting place for communication we would see more success.

    TB
    EDIL 679 Fall 2013

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  66. Daniel Adams
    EDIL 679
    Fall 2013

    a. Go to this internet address and post a comment on this topic:

    The first thing I noticed when viewing the video was the perspective that when you speak about school, one should include the parents, students, and the local community. In many ways this is different than a common perspective. Often I think we think of outsiders when we think of community and public. I also like the repeated reminder that communication is two way and needs to “take place”, this implies understanding and discussion, not just a note home from school or a mass email.
    Aside from the video I like that the author comes back to communication being two way, relationships, image, and also how he adds emotion and social media. These are two great additions to developing a community relationship. Ones that are often misused or not used at all, all together I think this article is a good introduction or reminder (depending on a persons understanding) of community-relations.

    b. How would a school without a good “School and Community Relations Plan” function?
    I would say there would be a large of amount of miscommunication and poor understanding of the goals and objectives of the school. I do not see how a school without a community-relations plan could effectively accomplish anything. As a former PTO Vice President and Site Based member, I have seen the importance of community relationships; these could not have existed without a community-relations plan. Even a nonspecific plan, something that is inferred and not written down is largely more effective then aimlessly taking shots in the dark at communication.
    I say this based off the school where I currently work. We do not have a specific written plan. However, we regularly discussed community-involvement and relations. We go out of our way to meet new community members and to engage them and get them into the school. Nothing is specifically written down, but we do have a plan of how these relationships will benefit our school.


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    1. c. Which five specific actions would you (as the principal of the school) implement to encourage parents to get involved in school affairs?
      1. Parent and Community nights. These have been a big it at our school over the last year. We pick a few dates a year to get local community groups and parents into the building. Science night, Trick or Treat the Halls, and Deck the Halls are all events we held within the last year to bring in family and community. We usually offer a meal or snack of some sort. These are always a big hit with socializing opportunities and time to meet and greet and for the parents and community to see how effective our school is.
      2. Another popular communication tool I would make use of would be a parent/community newsletter. This would be good to provide updates about school events. Our school recently began a newsletter; we include upcoming school events such as testing, sports, family nights, PTO events, etc. These have been highly effective at getting information out. The major downside is they are often one sided as we have no way to ensure students get them to parents. However, they are available in electronic format, and I believe emailed out to parents and community members as well. A read receipt would provide confirmation that it was seen, and an invite response could be added.
      3. I think the PTO is another great community involvement program. Our current PTO meets monthly with additional meetings as needed. However, they have a Facebook page, which allows for constant updated and feedback to the community. They are regularly posting about school happenings and trying to get the news out about the great things our school is doing. I think the PTO is a great tool for communication, because it gets the parents on a committee and offers the opportunity to make suggestions and to actually get involved in the school.
      4. The PTO Facebook is a good reminder of how effective Social Media is for communication. Our principal has ran a school Facebook and twitter account at different times. We also try and keep our webpage informative an up to date. This is the information age and often times, we can best reach parents in their terms in a format they are already using.
      5. Finally for two-way communication I think conferencing is essential. I think parents need to be talking with teachers about students. This should take place at school and in the home. Home visits are often an opportunity to gain an understanding and perspective that was lacking before, but can be a great tool to meet parents where they are comfortable. This would work for communicating with the public as well. It would be easy to arrange to meet with managers of local business to get information out about what the school is doing to help the community, and to let the community players know of school needs.

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    2. I think many schools are doing well with one-way communication. They send notes home or post notices on a website. I think two-way communication is still lacking, but as you pointed out, this needs to be occurring. For many schools, if teachers are not calling parents and having a conversation, then those two-way conversations aren't occurring. Administrators need to lead by example to lead the charge for two-way communication.

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  67. Timothy Litteral
    EDIL 679, Fall 2013

    A. I think in many schools, communication is one area that can easily be overlooked. Administrators are busy implementing curriculum, responding to discipline issues, evaluating faculty, monitoring athletic and other extra-curricular activities, etc. It might not be on purpose, but communication is forgotten. In thinking about school communication, many times those coaches in the athletic department are some of you most effective communicators. They want to portray a positive image of their program. Because of regular contact, they often have the relationships with outside organizations and members of the news media. Whether they want to hear it or not, there is a lot of two-way communication in athletics. If it's not a parent making a direct comment, it might be a sports piece in the local paper. It also seems many athletic departments have beat school districts as a whole to using social media.

    B. School districts without a good school and community relations plan are leaving their image to chance. What people see and assume could very well become the image if the school isn't making an effort to portray themselves in a positive light. If leadership isn't focused on communicating with staff members, there a good possibility relationships aren't being fostered. Without those relationships, morale in a school district can quickly go south. Not making "friends" in the media and other organizations can limit exposure of a school and potential resources.
    Folks tend to become aggravated and disgruntled when communication is lacking. This is true of all stakeholders including parents, staff members, students, board members, and common citizens. When these people lose confidence in the school district, it will lose the support. Without the support of these various groups, it would be difficult for the school district to operate and function effectively.

    C.
    1. I would require each faculty member to submit at least one article each 9-week period to the local newspaper. This could be about a club/group they sponsor, an athletic team they coach, an event they are responsible for, or the positive happenings in a teacher's classroom.
    2. Regular use of social media. Our school has a Facebook and Twitter page, but those are used sporadically. I would make that a daily/weekly responsibility of the Assistant Principal.
    3. Monthly checks of teacher websites - Each teacher has a website in our district, but many are not utilized regularly or are often out-of-date. I would ensure that websites are reviewed at least once a month and that teachers not keeping this source of information up-to-date receive instruction to do so.
    4. Volunteer program - I would work with the PTSA, Community Education, and the FRYSC office to set-up a volunteer program in the school. This could allow parents/grandparents/community members to feel as though they are apart of the school. It might include reading with younger students, working one-on-one with students, assisting in the library/office/cafeteria, etc. I think you use the strengths of your volunteers to determine where they are most comfortable in helping.
    5. Two-way/individual communication requirement: This would require teachers to make contact via phone with at least two parents a week. They would also send postcards to at least three additional students/parents each week. Teachers would keep a log of these interactions.

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  68. Martina Skidmore
    Communication is a key factor in successful schools, however is the one area that is often overlooked due to the overwhelming amount of daily work. So often, it is this area that causes the biggest problems which ironically cause our amount of daily work to increase. There are so many times that a better plan of communication would prove beneficial.
    If a district has a good communication plan, they have created an environment in which the proper realationships can be fostered. There are so many times that individuals without proper information struggle to make sense of the situation and with this often become defensive and disgruntled.
    As an administrator it would be my primary responsibility to implement a plan that would allow my parents and students to have the necessary information to break this barrier.
    1. I would provide up-to-date information on the school website, newspaper, and one-call system. This system allows me to make one call to my district parents/guardians where I can communicate any changes in the calendar or schedule. I would also require my classroom teachers to provdie bi-monthly newsletters where parents are informed about classroom information as well as put a publicaton in the school newspaper.
    2. Another way I would create a better communicaiton environment would be to host a community breakfast where parents and community members were invited and my teachers would highlight their programs so that community members are aware of the activities going on in the schools. So often individuals are unaware of the activities or even the pressure placed on our schools due to state testing and accountability.
    3. I would encourage involvment in PTO by providing an incentive. Each member who signs up and pays dues will receive a $5 Kroger card-the card tied to our school and we receive 4% of all sales from.
    4. Each teacher would be required to make one positive contact with each student, parents,and or guaridans each month.
    5. I would create a school Facebook and twitter account to use for informing parents and others about school events.

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  69. Karen Boggs
    EDIL 679

    “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
    ~George Bernard Shaw
    That statement so completely stood out to me because I believe that often times school believe that because they have sent letters home or put something on the school channel that they have communicated with parents, community members, the public, etc. However, this is false, communication is a two-way process. Continually, schools should maintain open communication with all members of their community. The attitudes/emotions of individuals and the choices they make are largely dependent on the perception of the school, and positive school perception can be a reality when effective communication is sought after by school personnel.

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  70. James Cornett
    EDIL 679

    One of the largest flaws with school systems is the line of communication. We often spend more time worrying about curriculum, assessments, and attendance and forget to let stake holders know about our goals and plans. It is important that community members take ownership in the goals and plans of your school. It doesnt matter how much you know curriculum, if you dont get buy in from the school and the community it will be impossible to reach these goals. Therefore it is important to have community members and parents have a voice in the decision making in your school. Invite them to meetings and to see your school. Try different more personable contact methods, instead of the chain letter, call them. This shows that you value their imput. Without community support your plans and goals may die in the water.

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  71. These 5 points speak to the heart of public relations in schools. It is important that every member buy into the importance of having effective communication with stakeholders from the administration to the teachers to the support staff to the students. Administrators need to communicate effectively with stakeholders and involve them in their work and processes. Teachers need to communicate effectively with students, parents, colleagues and administrators. Working in a large school has demonstrated the challenges of implimenting these techniques in everyday practices. We are keenly aware that image is everything and perception is reality and we are engaging with the community to portray our image as a successful school meeting the needs of all students in order to ensure that every student is college and/or career ready. We are developing relationships with community organizations in order to promote our successes and gather resources to meet our challenges. We are using social media to communicate with parents, students, staff and the community.

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  72. Ruthann Sharrock
    EDIL 679

    When I think about creating optimal communication and the best use/implementation of it, several questions come to my mind:

    How would I want to hear about items/news/events?
    How do I feel about not being informed or receiving delayed information?
    How would I want communication handled in a situation (e.g. lockdown or emergency)?
    What type of information does each stakeholder need (student vs. parent vs. community vs. school staff…)?
    How would I like to respond (give feedback or suggestions)?
    What would make me respond?
    How would I feel about receiving selective information?
    What would make me attend a school event?
    Why do I have apathy toward certain events?
    What gets someone involved?
    What means of communication, both one-way and two-way, are available?
    Which would be the best mode given different circumstances?
    What means of communication appeals to the different stakeholders sub groups?
    **How would my stakeholders answer these questions?**

    Today’s communication is instant, short and disposable. Paper use is minimized. Text, read, and delete. Scan and scroll. With these information-process-changes comes the need for schools to change how they keep the lines of communication open. Sometimes even the clearest, best form of communication is a failure and I have to wonder what else I could have done to get the message out and clear. I have to ask myself, how can I get their attention and response? Most would say we have the best means to stay informed today and no one has an excuse to not be in the know; however, it’s almost a curse in that too much information leads to not consciously being informed.

    I agree, community relations is a top priority for school systems.

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  73. A school without a good plan, to put it simply, would lack transparency on every level. The community would feel completely disconnected. The district wouldn’t share successes or obstacles, they wouldn’t reach out to the community to best take advantage of their resources, and they would do nothing to invest in the community or its other stakeholders. They wouldn’t invest in their students’ lives beyond the school day. This would mean no parent teacher conferences, no open houses, no communication with students or parents beyond the classroom.

    1. Use Registration Time to Build a Foundation
    Principals can build the strongest relationships with families outside the normal confines of the school day. Meeting during the registration process is like shaking hands before the game starts. There is no baggage, no past issues, no misunderstanding. The best way to build a positive relationship is to do it from the beginning, before conflict arises. This is before the stress and craziness of the school year begins so it is a great time to begin relaxed discussions and gain important insight into students’ families and home lives.
    2. Make Open House a Special Event
    Open house is one of the only events that can give parent’s a detailed insight into how their children spend most of their waking hours from August to May. This should be a well organized, welcoming event, that goes beyond teachers reading a syllabus to bored parents. It should be a night in which students and parents alike can share in the experience and culture of your school. This should include interaction with teachers, support staff, and administrators.
    3. Contact Them With Good News Regularly
    Parents never tire of hearing good news; and there is always good news to tell. Students and parents build pride and confidence in their school, and by extension their community, through the successes that you share. Parents, especially in secondary education, struggle to get information from their children. And much of what they hear is not good. There is never a shortage of dramatic, pessimistic teenagers! We should do everything in our power to bombard them with good news. This should include athletics, the arts, and academia. It should encompass every walk of life in your school. Everyone knows what the varsity football score was, but they also need to know that there is wonderful play, an important academic team match, and that map scores are on the rise. It should be a holistic approach to your school.
    4. Utilize Technology Whenever Possible
    Communication has never been easier. Email, FaceBook, texting, twitter, websites, etc. These are all avenues in which you can gain community pride and ownership in your school. As an administrator, your job is to lead and get everyone to buy in. These tools can help your trumpet success and communicate information. It should increase transparency into your policies and actions and allow the community to know exactly what is happening in your school. The more transparent you are in your policies and actions, the more understanding people are when something fails or goes wrong. It also gives them a sense of ownership in the school because they know exactly what is happening, exactly how much you are doing for their child, and exactly how much work it takes to make their child successful.
    5. Establish an Open Door Policy
    I firmly believe that administrators are there to do one thing: serve the student. They are not there to serve a school board, an SBDM, a parent organization, or any school department. They are not there to serve teachers or raise test scores. They are there to serve students. In order for that to happen, students and parents must have access to administrators. Yes there are unreasonable parents and families. But you must take on the bad to help the good. If an administrator is truly student-centered, they will naturally serve teachers, communicate with parents, and raise test scores!

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    1. I think your ideas are great! It is always important to establish an open door policy, and it seems that your ideas will all work together to do just that. What sort of plan do you have for those parents who are not supportive? This seems like it would be a difficult problem for me to face, so I was wondering what your thoughts are on the subject. I like your idea about contacting with good news regularly. What sort of specific ways would you share good news? Is there one way you've found to be more effective than others? Thank you for sharing your ideas on this subject. I enjoyed reading them, and they've given me a lot to think about.

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    2. These are great ideas! The thought of using registration time to help build a foundation is key and easily looked over and not done. This can be successful by the structure of making the school inviting and allowing the parents for the school to feel like a safe place for both themselves and their child.

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  74. I firmly believe relationships are an essential component to everything in this world. In order to be effective in anything we do we must have strong relationships with others.

    A component to this is to have effective communication skills within our work setting, our personal lives, and our community. As an educator it is essential to have good communication skills with others. Often we are placed in situations that migh be very difficult to address, however it is important to understand we must always value the views of others even if we do not agree.

    Effective and good communcation skills does not mean we must always agree, however we must always value and respect the views of others even if they differ from ours. It promotes growth from within.

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    1. I agree with you that relationships are essential! You are so right that strong relationships are necessary to be effective when doing anything dealing with people. What are some things you would do or say to help someone who is struggling to form and maintain positive relationships with others? I think you have a good idea with communication skills being a component of relationships. How can you help someone develop good communication skills? Do you think it is important to be "liked" by others? Can you have strong positive relationships without liking each other? This is an area where I know I need to grow in order to help others, because I am just not sure how to help people who struggle with having positive relationships with others. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this topic.

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  75. A school without a school and community relations plan would function in a way that it would be disconnected from the community. The schools may even be viewed as secluded or closed off from the community. Communication with stakeholders would be through students, parents, and staff who talk at public places and post on social media. Without a formal plan in place for community relations, the school administrators would have no control over what is said about the school and have no way to form the public opinion of the school. Communication would be haphazard at best.
    If I were a principal, I would want to encourage parents to get involved in their child’s education. Five specific actions I would take would be as follows.
    1.) Parent academies. This idea comes from one of the schools in my current district. This school plans and communicates the schedule for Parent Academies throughout the year. Topics may include – “How to help your child with homework,” “Helping your child become a better reader,” “Being Active as a Family” and more. These academies would occur a few times throughout the year at different days/times including at least one on a weekend, and wouldn’t last longer than about an hour.
    2.) Utilize social media. Our school would have a Facebook page and Twitter account where we would post news, upcoming events, and daily celebrations. We would have to make sure anyone with administrator rights would diligently check to make sure students whose pictures were posted had their publication consent signed before posting. Daily small celebrations of learning would be posted. For example, we may post a picture of kids in a math class doing a cool lesson with math manipulatives or a science class as they listen to their guest speaker.
    3.) Volunteer coordinator. We would have someone in the building who serves as our volunteer coordinator. This could be an extra duty for an employee, and this employee would recruit, train, and retain volunteers in the community. Communication would be a primary concern for this coordinator because that is the greatest way to either retain volunteers or ensure they will never return if the communication was not effective.
    4.) Positive Contacts. I would have a formal plan in place for making positive contacts, so I would make sure that these didn’t get neglected. Each week, the various teams of teachers would submit two names from each team along with a little blurb about the student’s positive actions/attributes to me, and I would make those contacts home to brag on those students. I would make positive contacts at other times also, but with this formal plan in place I would make sure that there were always these contacts taking place in a week, even when things get busy.
    5.) Regular two-way communication between parents and teachers. Teachers would make phone calls, communication with parents via the agenda books and communications log/folder. Notes and emails could also be exchanged.

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    1. Lindsay, I see we have very similar expectations for school and community relations if we were principal. It is imperative that a school have a communication plan. This ultimately allow that school to be successful. Without the support of parents and the community the overall function of a school becomes low.

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    2. Parent Academies would be a great resource for many families. A few years ago I heard so many parents talking about the Singapore math (not sure if they are still using these methods) and how they could not help their child with their homework.

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  76. 1.) A school without and school and community relations plan would embark toward many dysfunctional paths. A series of miscommunications ultimately leads to a school of low expectations and the ability to not perform to the best standards. Also, without a relations plan in place in time of great need or an emergency situation there is not a protocol to follow to communicate to students, parents, teachers and the community. This can lead to panic and ultimately self-destruction of the school.
    2.) As a principal I would have a specific school and community relations plan in place in order to communicate to all groups involved in time of need and on a daily basis. This allows everyone involved to not only be on the same page but also promotes a healthy school environment.
    Actions that I would take to communicate and get parents and the community involved are as follows:
    1.) I would have a school website that is updated weekly. This would include school events, information about the school, and helpful tips and resources for parents to help their child at home.
    2.) I would also develop a weekly newsletter to send home with students that includes information regarding the school and important happenings. This would also encourage parents to get involved in the school.
    3.) I would provide trainings and workshops for parents. These would involve “tips on helping your child at home”, “Reading Workshops”, “Homework Help” and other events promoting parents to get involved in their child’s education.
    4.) I would create social media contacts such as Facebook and Twitter as another source of updating parents about the school.
    5.) I would devise other basis of communication. Expectations that teachers have their own weekly newsletter and updated teacher webpages. Also, one-calls would also be created for updates and reminders.

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  77. A school without a good “School and Community Relations Plan” would function poorly. I would like to use the metaphor of ordering fast food at the drive thru. The customer is the community. The loud speaker is the community and relations plan. The restaurant employee is the school staff. The restaurant manager is the principal or superintendent. And the restaurant is the school district. This simple transaction of ordering and receiving food is a representation of communication between schools and communities.
    The customer pulls up to the speaker patiently waiting for the restaurant employer to ask what they would like to eat. This exchange of words should be polite and welcoming. If not, then the customer immediately develops a bad perception of the restaurant, and might not return. As a school, first impression could mean everything. School should be open and polite to community members. We should make them feel welcome and willing to opening offer ideas and input on ways to make the school district better.
    Once the customer knows what they want to order; they communicate to the employer what they would like to eat. As community members, it’s essential that quality and productive communication develop with the goal of meeting the needs of the community and students. Furthermore communication between the school and community must be clear and able to comprehend by both parties. Like a speaker breaking up while making an order can screw up the whole communication process.
    Now, the restaurant delivers. You receive what you ordered. If the order is not correct, you as the customer become frustrate and possibly develop a bad perception of the restaurant. Community wants results from the school. They community wants higher test score, and help to develop a plan for meeting this goal, and don’t reach the goal. Then community becomes disappointed and will likely blame the school for the failure.
    After reading the post, I feel that “Image” is the most important role of developing a community and relations plan. I feel that people base most of their feelings towards organization and groups on first impressions. Without gaining that trust and willingness to “buy in” to the schools goals, community members will not support the school district. Therefore they will perceive an image that the school does not care about them or their child, and that image will become a reality for the community.

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    1. I also believe that image is very important to a school and must be considered when developing a school and community plan. Unfortunately schools are always battling this largely due to the mainstream media. But with a little hard work and good communication it is possible to create a positive school image.

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  78. As educators our number one goal is student success. Parents are a key factor in student academic success. As an administrator our job is remove barriers that get in the way of student success. One way to do this is implementing a school and community relations plan. Without a plan, communication between school/classroom and home would be inconsistent if present at all. The only communication that would take place would be one way. Parents would potentially miss important information about their child's successes, meetings with teachers, parent organization events, overall standing of school achievement. Some parents find it difficult to help their children with homework and with no support from the community they would not be able to assist them. The achievement gap will be status quo or widen if schools work to create a school and community plan.
    Without community support some students would not get the health and social services they need, therefore they will not be able to perform at their best. Without support from newspapers and media the school image would continue to decline due to national, state and local references to poor test scores and other negative school stories.
    It's been said many times that it takes a village to raise a child; it takes the school and the community to educate a child. Everyone must work together and communicate if we truly want to close the achievement gap and get out students prepared for their post-secondary endeavors.

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  79. As principal of the school I would:
    1) Work to create a good school climate. I feel it is important the when anyone enters the building, they feel welcomed. Information like a school calendar, dates and times of PTA/PTO meetings and SBDM meetings would be gives out.
    2) I would create two pay communications between parents and teachers. Teachers would develop weekly newsletters informing parents of upcoming events, lessons, and homework. I would have teachers make contact with parents through mail, email, telephone, etc… and inform them of times the teacher would be available in the future if the parents feel the need to contact them.
    3) I would create strong relationship with local newspaper and media, where I would inform upcoming school events and showcase student success stories
    4) I would work with local business and industry to encourage them to come into the school for mentoring opportunities for the students.
    5) I would work to connect families with community resources.

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