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Community engagement workshops

These materials are designed to support you as you conduct community engagement workshops. Schools may choose to provide these workshops in a variety of ways, as appropriate to your needs and those of your school community. These may include:

  • working within a cluster of schools, supported by a shared facilitator
  • planning to work led by your own facilitator
  • targeting specific modules at specific student groups based on school data indicating specific needs
  • purchasing support from an independent facilitator.

Resources

Planning suggestions for schools

Some points to consider

  • How will you set up and support a team of teachers and community members to lead these workshops? Do teachers need release time to prepare for the workshop sessions? Can transport and childcare costs be reimbursed?
  • What information do you need and how will this be gathered?
  • Where will you hold your workshops and how will this physical environment support your activities?
  • Will the children accompany their parents? If not, who will provide childcare? Where will the children be and how can they be actively involved in the learning? What resources will be needed?
  • What resources will be needed? (For example, photocopier access, food and drink, an overhead projector, books, pens, and paper.)
  • How will you set times and dates that consider people's work obligations and childcare responsibilities?
  • How will information be shared within the school community?

Allocating roles

Principal and Boards of Trustees
The principal has a key role to play in leading and ensuring the success of a community engagement initiative. The principal and the members of the Board of Trustees can create opportunities to engage with the community throughout the process.

Workshop co-ordinator
You may wish to choose one person to co-ordinate all aspects of the workshops including people, resources, and processes. An effective co-ordinator will be a person with credibility and proven leadership, communication, and administrative skills.

Facilitator
The facilitator prepares the school to run the workshops, supports the workshop team where appropriate, provides guidance and support throughout the process. You may wish to have an internal or an external facilitator.

How to be a great facilitator >>

Workshop team
The workshop team can be comprised of teachers and community members who reflect the diversity of your community and work together in partnership to lead the workshops. This team will meet throughout the workshop planning and delivery process to ensure they have the necessary support. As a starting point, the team can:

  • discuss the concept of partnership
  • look closely at the ideas they will be sharing with parents and families
  • consider the sequence of the workshops they plan to use
  • prepare for the first one or two workshop sessions
  • plan to gather evidence of achievement, considering options for gathering feedback.

Staff
All staff have a significant part to play in the community engagement workshops. Their role includes encouraging the community to participate; informing their students and encouraging them to talk about it at home; supporting the workshops within their classrooms; listening; and helping the workshop team.

Suggestions for getting everyone involved

  • Involve participants at all stages of the process.
  • Consider ways you can cater for diverse cultures and languages, and reassure the community their needs will be taken into account.
  • Invite local matai, kaumātua, kuia, and other community leaders to provide support and help with communications.
  • Welcome community members and reassure them they can bring their children and extended families when they come to the workshop sessions.
  • Use people’s names correctly – pronunciation, spelling, and appropriate forms of address.
  • Set up a phone tree so that more people can share the task of giving reminders and providing support.
  • Arrange transport for those who need it.
  • Invite a local hero, an entertainer, or any other highly respected or admired person to visit the school and create enthusiasm for the workshops. Consider offering games, prizes, or raffles to bring people in.
  • Talk about the workshops with children and encourage them to talk about it at home with their parents.
  • Talk about the programme at school functions, such as concerts or disco nights.
  • Create large, attractive notices using inclusive language and culturally significant designs for display around your community area.
  • Regular small chunks of information are usually more effective than large chunks. Use the school newsletter to build up expectations.
  • Set up a family area in the school, a truly special place run and maintained by the school’s families – “your place”. This is a great way to create a sense of comfort and belonging. More families are likely to come to school and want to be part of “your place and our place – our school”.
  • Include information about the initiative on the school website.

Generic structure

The generic workshop structure describes what happens at every workshop session and provides a possible sequence of events for a typical workshop (to be adapted by users to meet their needs).

Welcome (5–10 minutes)

Welcome the parents and families. Allow time to hat and perhaps offer refreshments. (Your group may prefer to have the refreshments at the end.)

It may be appropriate to begin the series of workshops with a low-key formal welcome. For example, you could greet the parents and families in their own languages and the school’s principal could welcome them. People might like to join in a suitable song or a prayer for your partnership and its development through the workshops.

It can be great if you help people relax by using a short performance – maybe a waiata, an amusing story, or a sāsā. Make it fun and encourage people to respond or join in.

If appropriate, provide time to share what parents and teachers have tried out since the previous workshop, talking in pairs, in a small group, or as a large group about what they did and how it went.

Suggested approach (35–45 minutes)

1. Whole group

Briefly describe the purpose of the session, linking it to the school community’s vision for supporting students through home–school partnerships, and go through the core contents of the session, referring to the relevant sets of key messages if appropriate.

2. Small group

The lead parent speaks to the key messages and raises points for discussion. (Start from what parents know – elicit their current understandings in relation to the key messages.)

The group discusses the key messages.

Parents could respond to the question “What would you like teachers to walk out of this room knowing?" (In relation to these key messages.)

Teachers could respond to the question “What would you like parents to walk out of this room knowing?" (In relation to these key messages.)

3. Whole group

The lead parents report back to the larger group and feedback is shared and discussed. Summarise and discuss the core content.

Parents and teachers identify what they might try out over the next week or two and how they could get feedback about it.

Distribute handouts (3–5 minutes)

Distribute any handouts and discuss their content and how they can be used.

Gather data (5 minutes)

At the end of each workshop, invite group members to reflect on the experience. They could share:

  • their general response to the workshop or their reactions to specific parts of it
  • highlights of the workshop
  • issues or problems that are priorities for them
  • their ideas about what they might try out with their children/students
  • matters that they would like the group or the school to consider.

 Keep it short and simple – about 5 minutes is fine.

Farewell and follow-up steps (5–10 minutes)

Thank the group for coming and remind them about any further planned workshops. Convey a sense of enthusiasm. Be sure to show appreciation of everyone’s input and commitment, emphasising the value of the many things they do for their children and students.

Reinforce the idea that home and school are a real partnership, in which each partner supports the others. Emphasise the fact that both parents and teachers are of key importance to students’ success at school.

Allow time for people to chat and share informally.

Word 2007 icon. Generic workshop module (Word 2007, 17 KB)

Gathering feedback

The purposes of gathering feedback

  • maintain the enthusiasm and commitment of the whole school community, by sharing stories of success
  • find out what the parents and families are getting out of the workshops (including information that relates directly to the content of the workshop sessions and how families are implementing new ideas in their homes)
  • make changes to the workshop sessions to better meet the needs of the participants and accommodate their preferences
  • assess whether the initiative has achieved the school’s planned outcomes and evaluate its overall effectiveness
  • identify issues that arose and changes that could be made when running the workshops again
  • report on the initiative to the principal, Board of Trustees, and wider school community.

Gathering feedback at each workshop

Invite parents and community members to reflect on the workshop session and share their responses to it. They could share:

  • their general response to the session
  • highlights of the session
  • issues that are priorities for them or problems they have identified
  • ideas they have gained from this session about what they might try out or do with their children
  • matters that they would like the lead team to consider.

Keep this simple and fairly short, 5–10 minutes at the most. You could record this feedback on the end-of-session recording sheet. The co-leading teacher might do the recording while the co-leading parent talks to the group, eliciting responses, and translating when necessary.

Published on: 07 Oct 2015


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