Definition of Community Engagement
CEI’s Definition of Community Engagement
The Community Engagement Initiative developed the following definition with its LEA partners in the first year of the initiative:
Community Engagement is:
Authentic partnerships amongst students, families, districts and communities that nurture relationships, build trust, ensure cultural, racial and linguistic equity, and lead to transformative student outcomes.
Why Is Engagement Important?
What is your “why” as an educational leader? Stop and reflect on what called you to go into this work. What is your “why” for doing this work every day still? If students and families are not a part of your “why,” is there a reason? All that we do in education is centered around students thriving in our schools. When you look at frameworks connected to the community school strategy, or community engagement, our students and families success and connectedness are at the center. If we consider students and families thriving as one indicator of success, how do we define what “thriving” is in our own communities? One could argue that it starts with a consideration of what the community defines as thriving. And how do we know what is important in our community, without their voice?
Community engagement is foundational to understanding the strengths, assets, and aspirations for the children and communities we serve. To know how to focus our efforts and create opportunities for our students and families, we first need to listen and engage.
What Is Engagement?
From the US Department of Education
From the California Department of Education
How Do You Engage Your Community?
Reflect on your current family and community engagement at your school site. If you’re like many leaders and schools, perhaps since the pandemic, engagement has gone down significantly.
If you’re thinking to yourself, we have active family engagement, what are those practices that you could attribute to the success and how can you continue to cultivate those opportunities?
Regardless of where you may rate your site engagement, we are a space in history where we have an opportunity to think and do differently for our students and communities. Arundhati Roy’s poem spoken in the view below brings this thinking to light:
With an opportunity to walk through the portal to a new world, imagine how we can engage with our school communities differently?
Consider the following as you reflect on how you engage your community:
As you begin to embark on this module journey, consider how you might strengthen existing systems, and create new ones in service of your community. We have an opportunity to engage with our parents, caregivers, students, and community in new ways. Including their voices with intention in the decisions, not only the fun events, will have a positive lasting impact on our students’ success.