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      The CEI is proud to offer a selection of CEI-created and curated resources and learning modules on a variety of topics designed to help educators strengthen their community engagement practices.

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Using the Wheel

Uses Of The Wheel

Now, you are ready to use the wheel as a tool for growth in your community. First, we will suggest a few uses for the Holistic Engagement Wheel, and we invite you to use it in creative and innovative ways beyond those we suggest. Then, you will have an opportunity to complete a wheel for your district or school. The Holistic Engagement Wheel can be used for any of the following:

  1. An initial assessment of your district’s or school’s implementation of the Six Essential Roots of Effective Community Engagement and to identify areas of strength and growth. Wheel use can begin with organization leaders and then expand to other groups, including families and students. Examples of forums where one might consider using the Holistic Engagement Wheel include,
    • District/School Leadership 
    • Advisory Groups
    • School Staff
  2. As a baseline for ongoing measurement of progress when working toward improvement, subsequent uses can serve as formative assessments of progress.
  3. The wheel can serve as a way to begin conversations and increase understanding of the diverse perspectives of families, students, and staff on community engagement.

Now, let’s take some time to use the Holistic Engagement Wheel as you reflect on your school or district. 

Please download a copy of the wheel to the right for your individual use as part of this module. The document is one you can use with your community as well. You can plot your points on a hard copy or use an annotation tool for the PDF and complete it electronically.

LEAs will arrive at a valid assessment of their implementation of the Essential Roots if they include families, students, staff, and the community in assessing progress using the Holistic Engagement Wheel. Districts and schools should invite individuals to share their perspectives and experiences by marking points on the wheel based on their unique experiences. Collaborative conversations should follow as the diverse community members come to a consensus on their assessments.

Interactive Holistic Engagement Wheel Model and Walk-Through

Once you’ve downloaded a copy of the wheel, you are ready to start plotting your points. The following video shows a model of what that looks like:

Users list the evidence for their points on the second page of the Holistic Engagement Wheel document.

Click the Image Above to Download A Copy of Holistic Engagement Wheel Tool

As you saw in the video, you will plot points along a spectrum for each Root, with points closest to the center indicating weaker roots or lower levels of implementation in your context. Points closer to the edges indicate high levels or strong roots. Let’s walk through your assessment of your school’s or district’s implementation of the Roots as you place points along the spokes.

Step One: Analyzing Root 1

  • Let’s begin with Root 1: The belief that the system’s success is critically dependent on its relationships with students, families, and the community. 
  • If you need to review the details of this root, take a moment to do so.
What Root 1 Looks Like: (Click to Expand)

Belief that the system’s success is critically dependent on its relationships with students, families, and the community

  • Districts and schools prioritize their time and resources toward relationships
  • Districts and schools connect the relationships to student outcomes and achievement
  • Districts and schools see the importance of accountability to the community
  • Districts and schools measure success by results, not merely effort (“we tried”)
  • Districts and schools have a strong understanding of the theory and research behind community engagement
  • Districts and schools are preventive in their mindsets and practices rather than reactive

Place a point on your wheel based on where you believe your district or school currently falls.

Think about what evidence leads you to plot a point in a particular place; later, you will list this evidence on the backside of your wheel.

Step Two: Analyzing Root 2

Let’s move to Root 2: Belief in students and families as experts

  • Remember, you will list evidence after you’ve completed your assessment of each root.
What Root 2 Looks Like: (Click to Expand)

Belief in students and families as experts

  • Districts and schools release prior teaching or expectations that they are to be the only experts
  • Districts and schools push back against fear that involving the community will result in “bad” decisions.
  • Districts and schools welcome student/family interest groups, even if there are many
  • Districts and schools invest in student/family training and leadership development
  • Districts and schools embrace shared decision-making

Step Three: Analyzing Roots 3-6

Now, repeat this process for the four other roots. Click below to see details of each Root as you consider your district or school.

What Root 3 Looks Like: (Click to Expand)

Strong understanding and expertise around highly effective student and family engagement

  • Districts and schools have a shared definition and measurements of what is meaningful, effective engagement beyond statutory baselines
  • Districts and schools can access guidance and best practices on how to go about making engagement effective and inclusive
  • Districts and schools hire staff for their community engagement skills
  • Districts and schools provide training for staff in key skills necessary for effective community engagement, such as relationship building, facilitation, empathy/deep listening, understanding privilege, power, and hierarchy
  • Districts and schools ensure that staff have a deep understanding of school sites and their services (which is where many students and parents want to engage)
  • Districts and schools know strategies and best practices to reach marginalized students, families, and community members
What Root 4 Looks Like: (Click to Expand)

Committed and consistent district and school leaders

  • Districts and schools have leaders who prioritize effective community engagement
  • Districts and schools have leaders spread across the district who are implementing effective community engagement
  • Districts and schools express a genuine commitment to sharing power
  • Districts and schools stay committed to effective community engagement in good times AND in difficult times
  • Districts and schools are willing to address the hard conversations of power, privilege, race, and class in order to serve all students
  • Districts and schools embrace shared decision-making
What Root 5 Looks Like: (Click to Expand)

Inclusivity based on race and culture

  • Districts and schools address unconscious/conscious bias
  • Districts and schools understand historic and systemic racism and inequities, white supremacy, and privilege
  • Districts and schools provide for families’ and students’ language translation and interpretation needs 
  • Districts and schools understand and include families and students who have cultural differences around challenging authority
  • Districts and schools work to include and empower families and students who have differences in their sense of agency and empowerment in schools
  • Districts and schools release and push back against fears that too much focus on marginalized groups leaves out others
What Root 6 Looks Like: (Click to Expand)

Systems and tools are made to be community-friendly

  • Districts and schools avoid the use of jargon and “education speak”
  • Districts and schools create budget documents for the community that are easy to access and understand
  • Districts and schools provide high-quality language translation and interpretation
  • Districts and schools create audience-specific documents when needed to ensure access to and understanding of information
  • Districts and schools understand what “community-friendly” means in their context
  • Districts and schools have effective communication and outreach practices
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