In ensuring that I am never "that guy" that pontificates on a topic then stops short of at least an idea to get the party started, here are 5 ways that you can grow your community's voice!
- Share specifically what the vocal minority is saying - in part of our efforts to improve upon what our end of year survey indicated, we hosted five (5) communication overviews (we called them Parent Communication University) following our orientation/curriculum nights. We gave a walk through of our key website features, social media norms and platforms, Remind, etc. We also took the opportunity begin and share why we were doing what we were doing. Feedback from parents at those meetings confirmed our thoughts on the survey, as they shared positive stories and thoughts on our communication efforts following every meeting. That said, they were also very appreciative of the time to sit down and learn together!
- The Engagement post - ask a question or put out a quick poll for feedback. The engagement post opens the up the opportunity for conversation. As I said in the post, someone may "speak" on social media versus standing up in a PTA meeting or stop me in the hall to chat about a topic. I'll preach again the importance of norms here because, look down your Facebook feed, there are lots of people that are brave on social media and not in a real positive way.
- Highlight your positive squeaky wheels - apply some of our knowledge of positive behavior supports to our community: highlight and praise the kind of behavior we want to see more of, right!? There are certainly plenty of opportunities to do this: newsletter, social media, meetings, etc. As I sit here writing this, I'm really liking the idea of a permanent section in teacher and admin newsletters where we highlight a positive interaction we've had with community!
- PR the feedback opportunities - When it comes time for feedback opportunities it is vital that everyone is given the information! Our families are busy (and maybe a little ADD like myself...) so getting the survey or poll link out on multiple platforms needs to happen. Place links in prominent places on websites, blast it out on social media, make sure links and reminders are in newsletters, phones messenger systems, Remind, etc.
- Request and encourage - it is great to let parents know what the opportunities are, but growing our community's voice is not an overnight thing. While there have always been squeaky wheels, our families are growing in this 21st century model of school with us. Often times their frame of reference for school is a place where their voice is not welcomed and changing that viewpoint and experience is a journey in itself. Families need to hear administrators and teachers opening the door for conversation and feedback and need to felt that they are heard. Many times this means we need to initiate the conversation with community. When Nixon coined this phrase, he was putting out the call for action and requesting and encouraging people to raise their voice. We should do the same, regularly!