Community Engagement

Schools serve diverse communities made up of parents, families, businesses, government, nonprofits, and residents. Throughout all stages of the transformation process, leaders ensure these partners support the school and the vision.

Strategies For Success

Gather

Gather input from diverse community stakehoders.

Educate

Educate the community about how the work you are doing serves their needs.

Collaborate

Collaborate with families to create supportive learning environments at home and at school.

Partner

Partner with local organizations to expand learning opportunities.

Gather

Reflection questions

  • Have you considered all the groups, segments, and types of stakeholders?
  • How effective are your relationships with your community? Have you assessed them from your perspective and theirs (e.g. through feedback, chats, press messages, attendance)?
  • Have you built relationships with important community members?

Educate

Reflection questions

  • Does the community support your vision and do they feel engaged in the changes taking place?
  • Do you have a plan in place for ongoing two-way engagement with the community?
  • How well are the links working between schools and their communities, and between the central administration and the community?

Collaborate

Reflection questions

  • What approaches do you have in place to help families better support learning outside of school?
  • How do you facilitate two-way communication between parents and teachers/administrators?
  • Do you have a way to engage in strong partnerships with parents across both language and cultural barriers?

Partner

Reflection questions

  • Have you encouraged educators and students to link with the community as part of core learning, and vice versa?
  • Have you put into place partnerships with the community, local and beyond?

Community Engagement

Plan to involve your community

Whether you’re leading the community engagement work for your schools or just considering it as part of your overall transformation, the planning steps and tools below can help.


Community Engagement overview

1

Assemble your Community team

Put together a team to address the community engagement in your district. This team should be assembled from all the key stakeholders to ensure you're receiving input from all interested parties.

However, this means that before you can begin putting your team together you first need to learn more about your stakeholders. This initial stakeholder analysis is critical— it will form the foundation for future team efforts and it’s essential that you give it the attention it deserves.

Once you understand the stakeholders, you should identify which of them will become part of your team. You may also choose to have different subgroups, for example a working group and an advisory group. Many projects may benefit from having students involved.

  • reWork: Google’s research on effective teams
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  • Conduct a stakeholder analysis
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  • 2

    Investigate & Understand

    Members of your team should understand as much as they can before (and during) planning. To be effective they should:

    a) Understand the existing relationship between the school district and the broader community. What is going well and what isn't? It may be helpful to divide the community into key groups and evaluate the current effectiveness of engagement with each group.

    b) Understand what research says regarding the community engagement (e.g., school-family partnerships, student exposure to authentic work environments, etc.)

    c) Understand what other schools and districts to gain inspiration about what is possible.

    Dedicate time to this phase so your plans can be made realistic for your specific situation, and effective due to the tested nature of the actions you take.

  • Gathering transformation ideas with “community conversations”
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    Ideas & Tactics

  • Conduct a situation analysis
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  • 3

    Set goals

    You want your community engagement to support the overarching vision. Set goals to help you do this.

    To get started, think about what success looks like; picture a time a few years from now. What does your relationship with the community look like? How is the district promoting the goals of the community? How is the community supporting the goals of the district and its schools? Now break down this ideal scenario into 2–5 specific or goals. Although these are not set in stone, these goals should be set up support the vision in the best way possible. You can always make refinements as needed.

    Keep in mind: at this stage the goals should be actionable, achievable, and measurable. You should know when you've met your goals, and they shouldn't be so large that you're unable to do so.

  • reWork: Google’s research on setting goals
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  • Set SMART goals
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  • 4

    Identify actions and solutions

    You should now have a good understanding of where you are, and where you want to be. In order to move between the two you need to do something— make decisions, take actions, and start new programs.

    These actions may be obvious, in which case you should spend a short period of time brainstorming to make sure you do indeed have the most effective solutions.

    Alternatively the required actions may be unclear. In this case, a more structured process — for example design thinking — can harness the creative energy of your entire team to identify the best solutions.

  • Learn how to brainstorm effectively
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  • Design thinking toolkit for educators
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  • 5

    Make a plan

    Now that you have measureable goals and have identified actions to meet those goals, organize this information into a project plan to keep everyone on track. A project plan can help you visualize the entire process from beginning to end, work more effectively, and avoid unnecessary obstacles.

    You can put together a project plan in six steps.

    1. Write a project charter

    2. Identify your project requirements

    3. Break your project into key milestones

    4. Brainstorm all tasks and assign deadlines

    5. Assign a team member to each task

    6. Assess your risks

  • A guide to effective project planning
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  • Project planning template
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  • 6

    Launch & Iterate

    Equipped with a solid project plan, your team is ready to accomplish your goals and bring your vision to life! Encourage each team member to frequently reference the project plan and to keep it up to date as they accomplish tasks or run into obstacles. Monitor your progress using the project plan and through effective meetings. Don't forget to stay in touch with your stakeholders and keep them happy along the way!

    After your project is complete, reflect on next steps and lessons learned. Celebrate your success!

  • A guide to effective project implementation
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