Graham Moore discusses the importance of relationships in schools, the four of this is Northumberland Park Community School in Tottenham, north it is like to be an adult and therefore cannot empathise with the stresses. Why Community Involvement in Schools is Important the relationship between parent (and community) involvement and student achievement. I am a firm believer that schools and community are one unit and partnerships of San Bruno Park School District, I am very impressed with the past two Examples of solid relationships the district enjoys in this regard are.
Additionally, they provide the administrator with a baseline of information for measuring the success of implemented programs and for comparing future needs assessments. Goals and Objectives Whether the administrator is establishing a new program, refining an existing school-community relations program, or establishing a district-wide program or a school site program, a system of goals and objectives is vital.
To develop intelligent public understanding of the school in all aspects of its operation. To determine how the public feels about the school and what it wishes the school to accomplish. To secure adequate financial support for a sound educational program. To help citizens feel a more direct responsibility for the quality of education the school provides.
To earn the good will, respect, and confidence of the public in professional personnel and services of the institution.
To bring about public realization of the need for change and what must be done to facilitate essential progress. To involve citizens in the work of the school and the solving of educational problems. To promote a genuine spirit of cooperation between the school and community in sharing leadership for the improvement of community life.
The power of goals and objectives is directly proportionate to two key ingredients: Many school districts have run afoul of public opinion by administering survey instruments that are clearly biased in favor of certain outcomes. Likewise, the administration of the instrument must be done in a manner which recognizes the aforementioned pluralistic nature of the community.
Care should be taken to define the geographic boundaries of the sample and to include opinions from a broad base of the community. Once the school has gathered its information and set its goals and objectives, it is in a position to decide on the formal nature of the school-community relations program. At the district level it may be an office as formal as the Public Information Office or School-Community Relations Specialist, or it may be the adjunct duties of key, visible administrators.
When it is an adjunct duty, it is often the responsibility of the superintendent or other respected district office administrator.
Why Community Involvement in Schools is Important
At the school site level the formal program is usually the responsibility of the principal, involving select teachers and members of the community as appropriate.
Formal Programs Formal school-community relations programs have both internal and external programs. Internal programs are those designed for the benefit of communicating with the employees and students of the school or district.
External programs are those designed for communicating with the communities which a school or district serves. A good external communication program cannot survive without it. Constructive ideas will be suggested by employees because someone is listening to them and informing them. Shared decision-making councils are rapidly emerging as formal processes, often negotiated through collective bargaining in which administrators, teachers, classified personnel, and students make consensual decisions on designated topics.
Though the line separating the less formal and the more formal internal communications programs may be somewhat arbitrary, it should be noted that schools highly structure some communications programs, whereas others appear to be more incidental to the schools' operation. Formal external programs, like their internal counterparts, are diverse in structure and purpose. They range from programs designed to work with the general community, to programs designed for parents or students. A recent example of schools working with their communities is the adopt-a-school program.
Most frequently based on identified needs, schools increasingly are reaching out to local businesses for assistance which ranges from direct financial assistance to the involvement of the businesses' employees as tutors.
The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation has been providing training in establishing the school as a centerpoint of the local community, and in the last few years businesses have been directly involved in the daily operation of schools.
President Bush's America education strategy is the most current evidence of that type of involvement. Other external programs include those where school programs are open to the public, programs which interact with constituent groups, and programs designed for parents. School programs which are open to the public like athletic events, school plays, and adult education programs are powerful ways in which schools interact with the larger community.
They provide a basis for identity for both the neighborhood school and the larger community in which the school resides. In interacting with constituent groups, schools often enlist constituent support on either side of contract issues, on tax bond referenda, with neighborhood associations, and with community advisory committees.
Parent programs include parent-teacher organizations, school visit programs, inservice programs, and parent involvement on important committees such as those deciding curricular issues.
Whatever the purpose of the external program, its success rests on the ability of the school to communicate with the designated community.
Communications with external communities take many forms. They can include the basic bulletin carried home by students, meetings held at community or school sites, and messages via the media. Though the technology can be as basic as word-of-mouth communication to orchestrated press conferences, the common denominator of an effective communication is one which adheres to a carefully planned purpose and recognizes the diversity of the community. Informal Processes Within every successful formal school-community relations program are effective informal communication processes.
Schools have one characteristic which makes them unique in the social order. Schools are the only institutions which virtually every person in the community has had direct experience. It is exceedingly rare to find a person who has never attended a school. As a result, many people regard themselves as expert, or at least experienced, on what schools are or should be about. This provides school personnel with either an opportunity or a dilemma. If the preponderance of people with whom an administrator interacts had negative experiences in school, then it may be safe to say that this administrator has a different challenge from his or her counterpart who deals with constituents who had positive experiences with schools.
Though the challenge may be different, the approach is virtually the same. A formally derived community relations program must value every constituent community based on informal interactions. The informal communication process can begin with how the public is greeted on the school telephone, how the school grounds appear, how the parent is greeted by school personnel, how students regard the contiguous community, or the extent to which school personnel are aware of the unique needs of a particular community.
It is through these often unrecognized acts of awareness and courtesy that schools may often determine the effectiveness of their relationships with their communities.
For example, if a local businessperson telephones the school and is inadvertently disconnected several times, it may lead to frustration and a poor evaluation of the school. Or, if a concerned parent visits the district office unannounced to voice a concern over a new curricular unit and leaves feeling listened to, it may lead to a good evaluation of the school.
Why Community Involvement in Schools is Important |
Or, lastly, if a neighborhood-watch organization has targeted gang intervention efforts as a high priority item and is rebuffed by the school administrator in trying to establish a liaison relationship with the school because the school has its own program, it may lead to strained relationships. The magic in the informal process is that the image the school projects becomes the medium of communication.
Through inadvertent efforts schools can either enhance or retard effective communication with their diverse communities. The role of the administrator becomes crucial in helping the school staff project an image based on true regard for the total environment of the school. The administrators' role is to project an image of treating others as we want to be treated and of treating the environment as if it were pridefully theirs.
School-Community Relations in California School-community relations in California, similar to national efforts, are illustrated in four types of formal programs and numerous informal processes. Formal programs include federal and state legislated programs, adopt-a-school programs, shared decision-making programs, and locally created programs. The School Based Coordinated Program SBCP is a state effort to coordinate limited-English proficient, gifted and talented, special education, and school improvement programs.
Each district is required to have a broad-based site council which represents each of the constituent areas, the parents and community members, teachers, other school personnel, and the principal.
Members of the council are selected by their peers. The major responsibility of the councils is to oversee the programs. This program is a good example of how schools respond to designated constituent communities. The most recent legislated effort is Assembly Bill ABeffective January 1,requiring all school districts' governing boards to adopt a policy on parent involvement.
Engage parents positively in their children's education by helping parents develop skills to use at home that support their children's academic efforts at school and their children's development as responsible future members of our society.
Inform parents that they can directly affect the success of their children's learning by providing parents with techniques and strategies that they can use to improve their children's academic success and to assist their children in learning at home.
Build consistent and effective communication between the home and the school so that parents know when and how to assist their children in support of classroom learning and activities. Train teachers and administrators to communicate effectively with parents.
Integrate parent involvement programs into the school's master plan for academic accountability. Jenkins acknowledges the issue of choice and extends it to a discussion of the taxonomy of communities by posing questions like: Is it the school plan for parent involvement sensitive to the different educational backgrounds of the parents and does it take into consideration the different learning styles that all individuals have?
Is it sensitive to the different ethnic and cultural heritages of families in the school community? With the changing family structure, are all caregivers taken into consideration - parents, grandparents, relatives, and foster parents? Are the schedules of working parents given consideration?
First, the recognition that education should be a client-based business, one which responds to a remarkably diverse client community. Second, that schools exist in a political milieu, one in which either schools are to be responsive to political pressures or the political systems will redefine them.
The second type of community-school relations program widely evident in California is the adopt-a-school program. From the smallest rural districts to the largest urban systems, adopt-a-school programs proliferated during the last decade.
The programs vary in scope and breadth and most often provide the stimulus for extra assistance in the forms of tutors, funds for equipment and materials, and funds for participation in community events like professional and collegiate athletic events, visits to museums, and field trips. Typically these programs afford the school the opportunity to offer incentives and programs that would not be possible with district revenues. Benefits for the businesses to be involved are in addressing pressing educational issues at the school site and to be apprised of the remarkable diversity of local schools.
The third type of school-community relations program evolving in California is the shared decision-making program which is spreading throughout the state. The program which has received the most regional and national attention has been the program negotiated between the Los Angeles Unified School District and the United Teachers of Los Angeles.
The importance of relationships in school
The district and the teachers' union have negotiated a process for involving administrators, teachers, classified staff, community members, and sometimes students, into making decisions on topics derived through the collective bargaining process. In terms of school-community relations, shared decision-making gives schools the opportunity to improve not only these formal processes, but the informal processes which, when properly constituted, can positively affect the interaction between schools and their diverse communities.
The fourth category of school-community relations programs, the locally derived program, is in evidence throughout the state. Whether through offices like the Public Information Office or as a designated responsibility of traditional school personnel, virtually every district has some type of formal school-community relations program.
The Roles of Administrators The differentiated roles of the administrative hierarchy are as evident in school-community relations functions as they are in any other aspect of school organization. The recognition of these roles and forces is central to administrator effectiveness. The Board of Education The major school-community relations function of boards of education was put succinctly by Kimbrough and Burkettp.
Successful school-community relations programs are the result of detailed planning. The educational organization should commit to writing a clear and concise policy statement with respect to its public information program.
The policy statement should be approved through formal action by the governing board of the organization, should be published in its policy manual, and should be reviewed by the governing board annually. The policy statement should express the purposes of the organization's public information program and provide the delegation of such authority to the executives of the organization as necessary to achieve the objectives.
The provisions of the policy statement should be made known to the entire staff or membership of the organization through all appropriate means. Commitment to the achievement of the purposes of the organization's public information policy should be demonstrated through the allocation of adequate human and financial resources to the public information program.
From the base of a well-crafted policy statement, it becomes the province of the superintendent and his or her immediate support staff to design the procedures of a school-community relations program.
The Superintendent and District Staff The superintendent and his or her staff have responsibilities which are two-way in nature. They have the responsibility to see that clear communications flow from the school to the community and, conversely, to see that effective communications flow from the community to the school. Schools traditionally have performed the former role of informer to the community in adequate terms. The difference between less than adequate and exemplary programs appears to be the degree of well-planned school-community relations programs, as opposed to those which just happen.
The administrative role of listening to communities is one which has emerged rapidly in the last forty years. It represents the formal and informal ways in which schools elicit communities' perceptions of schools and the unique community needs which the schools must address.
A selected list of those functions are: Assuming initiative in the planning of processes and procedures for keeping the board, staff, and public well-informed on school matters. Helping all personnel connected with the school system become sensitive to the meaning and importance of their contacts in the community. Working with key groups and influential individuals in the community on significant educational policies and problems. Taking leadership to providing the opportunities required for district-wide involvement of citizens in programs for educational improvement.
Community relations means relating, and relationships are ongoing. A well-designed school-community relations plan at the district level sends a clear message to the school sites as to the value placed on this mode of communication. Possibly the most important school-community relations function of the superintendent and his or her district office staff is to develop procedures for relating with the media.
Well-developed procedures are important as a vehicle for dispensing information to the community and for responding to queries from the media.
Secondarily, well-developed procedures identify primary responsibilities for those who respond to inquiries from the media and guidelines for that relationship. This process is of particular importance to site level administrators because they often will not have immediate access to district level administrators.
When inquiries come from members of the media, they should appear informed and responsive. The media represent the open access of the community to schools. A relationship built on openness and accessibility is crucial. A second level of responsibility of the superintendent and his or her staff is the communication with the employees and students within the district.
This includes coordinating internal publications, coordinating formal committee structures to address professional issues, developing and disseminating procedures for use in emergency situations, and keeping the focus of schools on students. The successful implementation of clear communication procedures with teachers, classified employees, and students provides a positive support for communication with the community at large. The Principal and the School Site The roles and responsibilities of school site personnel closely parallel those of the superintendent and district level administrators.
Site level personnel are also responsible for communication to and from their communities.
They are responsible for having well-designed procedures for communicating with their communities, and for having systems of communicating with school personnel and students. Each of these is an important category of events which can be orchestrated at the school site. Too often publicity about school site events lacks a professional touch. Both printed materials and direct personal contact must be of the highest professional order.
Publications should carry with them the recognition that the media are a powerful source of public opinion about schools.
Similarly, highly professional presentations to community and parent groups can be a way of engendering support for schools. In addition to the caution to insure that all printed materials are technically accurate and professionally organized, it is equally important that they be free of educational jargon. Finally, special school events, whether they are curricular or co-curricular, provide a way for the school to put its best foot forward.
Our various communities enjoy seeing their children performing at their best and are more likely to be supportive of schools when they participate in well- organized student-centered activities. The principal's role in crises is one of the realities of the modern age. Twineham and Jay have described the crisis situations faced by principals as being an opportunity. In addition to the aforementioned need for a well-designed media relations process, is the recognition that in times of crises it is important to have accessible spokespersons who are credible, well-prepared, and articulate.
With these two factors in place, the responsible communication of the facts of a crisis are more likely to occur. Well-designed media relations processes and well-versed spokespeople should counter the negative effects of any emerging rumor mills. Future Trends The roles of school administrators and teachers have become increasingly complex over the last two generations. No longer are administrators and teachers living and working in an environment isolated from the community.Community Schools Animation Video
Today's schools exist in a complex environment of strong political overtones. The principal, superintendent, and teacher of the s are seeing the community take a forthright role in school processes. It will be the effective school leader who knows how to orchestrate linkages between the school and its communities.
Oftentimes, the onus for providing a well-rounded educational experience for every student falls directly on the shoulders of the school administrators, teachers, faculty, and staff. What happens before the school day starts and after it ends can be just as important and impactful in the lives of your students as what happens during the traditional school day.
This is why community engagement and involvement in schools is such an important facet of the educational process. The Benefits of Community Involvement in Schools Consistent community involvement and engagement at all levels of the school have been shown time and time again to have significant short and long term benefits.
Easy Ways to Encourage Community Engagement in Your School Volunteering is one of the most common and popular ways to encourage community involvement in schools. Connect with local businesses, civic organizations, charities, nonprofit foundations, and other groups in your community to enlist volunteers to come in before, during, or after the school day. Volunteering can come in many different shapes and forms. Invite local leaders and individuals in the community to visit classes and speak about their chosen profession for Career Day.
Encourage community members to get involved by volunteering with enrichment opportunities before and after school, such as tutoring, fine arts clubs, and athletic teams. Not every organization, business, family, or individual in your community is going to have the time or capacity to participate in in-person and on-premise volunteer opportunities.