Seven steps to building an engaged school community

People for Education have put together some helpful guidelines on building a strong school community.
1) You have to want it!
— look at the advantages of an engaged community
— widen the resources you draw from
— engaged parents harness the passion and ownership that people feel about an issue
2) Make the school a welcoming place
— remove any ‘do this, do that’ signs and replace with family pictures
— do not let security outweigh community
— have a volunteer or drop-in room that welcomes everyone
— greet newcomers to meetings and events
3) Community building 101
— make people feel part of a community
— create a social setting so people can get to know each other
— do some fund things, not just educational things
4) Make connections early and often
— make sure parents and staff are on the same page when connecting with new families
— make sure there are school council info tables at every school event
— use parent ambassadors, have old parents act as mentors for new parents
5) Invite, invite, and invite
— always add an ‘everyone welcome’ to the newsletter or any communication to parents
— use websites, emails, posters, Twitter, Facebook, notices, phone trees, or anything
— but remember face-to-face is best
6) Make meetings friendly and inviting
— limit formalities and rigid structures
— make sure that parents know they can attend meetings without sitting on council
— bring in interesting speakers and fun things for kids
— introduce everyone at every meeting and explain how it runs
— welcome new people enthusiastically
— follow up with new people, get their input
7) Lower expectations and be patient
— acknowledge that all parent contributions are of value
— use tools like dotmocracy, surveys, emails, webite, and phone to make sure that council represents the values and desires of all parents.
— find opportunities for parent involvement beyond council
— don’t assume knowledge — some parents do not know about councils
— small changes can have a big impact; make decisions carefully