Policy and Decision Making
All Voices Are Important
Providing opportunities for feedback and input is not as simple as sending out a survey or even sharing a document at your monthly “Coffee with the Principal.” Too often we try to gather input and feedback as a task required to check off instead of seeing the value in the perspectives of the families we are serving. Next time you consider getting feedback on a document like your Site Plan or Title 1 Parent Engagement plan, ask yourself a few questions:
We have heard from families and community organizations that just asking for feedback or participation without actually teaching and sharing the purpose, creates a sense of fear around lack of understanding and our families are less likely to ask and share genuine questions or ideas. If we genuinely value the voice of our parents and community, that we should value their understanding of the content and purpose prior to asking their input.
Prioritizing Transparency and Clarity
Share rationale and reasons behind decisions- Let’s circle back to the above section about making sure folks understand the purpose and general content that you are engaging with them around. Consider how you share what you have learned and taken from those conversations. Are you sharing what benefited you? Are you sharing perhaps what was hard to hear? Is what’s being shared in language that all our families and community members can understand? By sharing the rationale and reasons behind your decisions in language that is understandable to our families and on topics they are familiar with, we create a stronger mutual understanding of respect and begin to develop trust.
Acknowledge and respond to concerns and feedback. None of us are perfect. We all can learn and grow from the experiences and feedback we receive. By acknowledging this feedback and responding to concerns, we again begin to build trust and a sense of transparency that we are not only showing the best sides of ourselves. Vulnerability builds that trust and also allows us to reflect and model growth ourselves for our larger community.
Options for Providing Resources & Support
- Providing training for staff on community engagement
- Allocating resources for community events and programs
- Providing training for parents on active participation and leadership opportunities