Community Partnership Strategies: Digital Learning Framework
As many districts head back to school this week (it’s early August, we find this baffling, but this is what we hear), it’s a great time to reach out to the community to establish some new and firm up some existing relationships. Regardless of what partnerships you’ve had in the past, these strategies will help you build support throughout your community. We have been busy sharing specifics on our digital learning framework the past few weeks. Today we are thrilled to share with you community partnership strategies that tie in to our overall digital learning framework.
Community Partnership Strategies: Make New Friends
If you’re just getting started, reaching out to meet with community leaders and organizations is an obvious first step. While it’s good to have a plan for how a partnership might work, it’s most important to listen to leaders describe what they see as their strengths, role, and contribution. Even if the first meeting doesn’t result in specific partnership ideas, continue communicating. Needs change, and some of the best partnerships develop slowly over time. Remember that the first part of outreach is OUT—leaving the school building and meeting with potential partners on their own turf is the best way to show your commitment to engaging the community.
Community Partnership Strategies: Tell Them What to Do
When a partnership is established, make sure to put together a partnership agreement that clearly states the responsibilities of each contributor, processes to follow, communication channels, and timelines. Partnerships are likely to fail when everyone is enthusiastic but no one really knows that to do. Even if the partnership doesn’t involve payment, it’s important to have an agreement so everyone understands their role. These agreements can also provide evidence of the partnerships which may be useful for including in grant proposals or even establishing other partnerships.
Community Partnership Strategies: Shout It from the (Virtual) Rooftops
Educators are often extremely busy doing the work, and forget to communicate the positive results of that work outside of our small school community. This type of outreach and publicity is extremely important for helping community members and organizations that do not have direct connections to the schools understand the work that’s being done and the progress being made. Establish a communication committee that is responsible for sharing positive news with the community. Ensure that all modes of communication are used, including local media, social media, websites, and more traditional forms like newsletters and mailings, and that a plan for reaching all members of the community is clearly laid out. For some specific ideas, check out these examples from the Southern Association of Independent Schools. The communication plan should include goals, tasks, timelines, individual responsibilities, targets, and a method for evaluating progress.
Community Partnership Strategies: Use Your Fan Base
One component of community partnerships that’s sometimes overlooked in the planning process is the role of students and parents in outreach and communication. Your families are the best evidence of your success. Don’t assume that you know how to best reach them or know what support would be most helpful. Asking families what they need and tailoring services, performances, and outreach to these needs will increase participation and provide support to the community. Meeting the needs of families is also a great place for other partnerships to come into play. For example, local agencies may have space available for meetings or Internet access for families that don’t have it at home. The school can really serve as a liaison, connecting families to existing resources and helping agencies tweak their services to better serve the community. Need some ideas? Check out this great resource from the National Education Association that provides many examples of how districts are meeting families’ needs.
Need more ideas? Drop us a note or give us a call. We’d love to help out! Next week, we’ll talk about one of the most important components of the framework: Professional Learning.