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Creating A Welcoming Place. The first Webinar in a Parent Involvement Webinar Series Provided by the Illinois State Board of Education in partnership.

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Presentation on theme: "Creating A Welcoming Place. The first Webinar in a Parent Involvement Webinar Series Provided by the Illinois State Board of Education in partnership."— Presentation transcript:

1 Creating A Welcoming Place

2 The first Webinar in a Parent Involvement Webinar Series Provided by the Illinois State Board of Education in partnership with the Academic Development Institute

3 Our Agenda Creating a Welcoming Place Monitor Your Message Ponder the Postings Messengers Matter Policies & Procedures in Practice The Value of Volunteers Putting it All Together

4 Why is a Welcoming Place Important? There are no re-dos for first impressions – First impressions set the tone for future encounters – First impressions require action to change them – Actions do speak louder than words Purpose of Creating a Welcoming Place – To foster positive working relationships that uphold the common good – To convey mutual support in the pursuit of common goals – To build trust

5 How Does Trust Relate to Learning? The benefits of trust – It opens the door for better communication – It moves people to do their best – It raises the spirit of willingness to work together – It contributes to the sense of community and belonging

6 Monitor Your Message

7 What do you want your message to be? – Families and schools are a team – The family’s role in the learning process is important Is your message clear and consistent? – Is your desired message loud and clear – Are your actions consistent with your desired message Monitor Your Message

8 Who are your school’s messengers? – Office Staff – Teachers and teachers’ aids – Maintenance and janitorial staff – Kitchen staff – School volunteers Do they send a welcoming message?

9 Monitor Your Message Do your messengers send the Welcoming message in words and actions? – To families – To students – To all visitors Has the desire for a Welcoming Place been communicated as a priority? – Through Policy – Through Trainings – Through Leadership

10 Monitor Your Message What conditions exist that might contribute to an unfriendly environment? – Workload – A welcoming school climate has not been expressed as a priority by school leadership – A collaborative spirit doesn’t attend the school – The school only hires grumpy people

11 Ponder Your Postings

12 Signage can relieve anxieties and have a positive impact on the visitor’s experience – By having clearly marked visitor parking – By having a clearly marked main entrance – By having clear directions to the office from the entrance – By having a clearly marked waiting area – By having clearly stated check-in instructions

13 Ponder Your Postings Signage can help deliver a welcoming message to visitors – By using bright colors and friendly language – By posting a warm “Welcome” sign for visitors at the entrance visitors should use – By printing signs in languages spoken by the families whose children attend your school

14 Welcome to Smiley School Please come to the office so we can assist you. Principal, Able A. Willing

15 Messengers Matter

16 Think about the people who might impact how your visitors will feel about your school – Are the school telephones answered by staff who are pleasant, cheerful, and helpful – Do ALL staff members – including teacher, teacher’s aides, clerks, custodians, cook, and others – greet visitors in the hallway in a pleasant and helpful manner and ask how they might be of help – Does office staff greet visitors promptly, cheerfully, and helpfully

17 Messengers Matter Think about your staff’s interactions with families – from both sides – Is there eye contact or is it avoided – Do they use the person’s name when talking with each other – Is the general response friendly or guarded – Is there active listening taking place – Is the communication two-way

18 Policies & Procedures in Practice

19 A Visitor Policy communicates that visitors are welcome – It should state that advance notice is required and explain why – It should include a handout that explains the visitor’s role while they are in the school building – It should communicate guidelines for teachers to greet families warmly when visiting the classroom and explain what is going on in the classroom

20 Policies & Procedures in Practice Method and frequency of communicating the content of the Visitor Policy – As part of the student handbook – Open House – On the school website – Upon request to visit the school or classroom – At the time of the visit as a friendly reminder How is the teacher notified of a requested visit to the classroom?

21 Policies & Procedures in Practice Other Policy and Procedural Provisions – Focus on a standard of Welcoming behavior In greeting visitors Incoming and outgoing telephone contact – Training for staff and volunteers in Welcoming conduct – Communicate the importance of the families’ role in achieving school goals (The message)

22 Policies & Procedures in Practice Other Policy and Procedural Provisions – Accessibility of all staff to all families – A frequent review of “Welcoming "procedures – A system to gather and evaluate feedback from families and other visitors – A procedure for welcoming new families to the school community

23 The Value of Volunteers

24 Volunteers are a valuable school resource – Volunteers convey confidence in the school, and commitment and support to its purpose – Schools should communicate their needs and make volunteer opportunities known – Schools should use a family volunteer survey To become aware of the volunteer talent available to the school To know what hours volunteers are available for specific needs

25 The Value of Volunteers Classroom volunteers – Should understand their role in the classroom – Should receive clear instructions as to what will be expected of them – Should be greeted warmly by the teacher and other staff – Scheduling volunteer time Minimizes disruptions in the learning process Ensures the teacher has activities planned in which the volunteer can participate and assist

26 The Value of Volunteers Volunteer opportunities shouldn’t be limited to the classroom – Volunteers can provide homework assistance and tutoring services – Volunteers can provide productive and meaningful use of parental talent Gardeners for seasonal grounds keeping Seamstresses for repairing athletic uniforms Carpenters for set construction for school plays Plumbers, electricians, computer technicians, web designers – Volunteers can be a valuable resource on career day

27 Putting it All Together

28 Communicate that families are valued by creating a Family Resource Center – Well-stocked with resources where families can check out materials – A place where parents can meet with other parents – Offer workshops and learning kits that show parents how they can support their children’s learning

29 Putting it All Together Welcoming environments also share and celebrate success – Display student work in the hallways for viewing – Display student awards and achievements – Celebrate the accomplishment of the school’s goals – Honor families in their contributions to the school’s success

30 Putting it All Together Check your family friendliness with a family friendly walkthrough – Family Friendly Walkthrough Family Friendly Walkthrough Survey your visitors for friendliness feedback – A School Community Survey A School Community Survey Evaluate your staff’s ability to build productive relationships with families – The Kentucky Rubric The Kentucky Rubric

31 Do MoreDo Less “Hello! Welcome to our school. How can I help you?” “Who are you? What do you want?” Welcome signs with name of the school and principal NO TRESPASSING signs Parent meetings that break into small discussion groups, each picking a leader Parent meetings dominated by a few “officers.” One-to-one and small group meetingsLarge meetings in the school gym Thanking parents for contributions small and large Complaining that parents don’t do more Meeting and greeting parents before and after school, and going to community events. Hiding in the office and assigning parent involvement to the assistant principal or teacher’s aide. Rotating meetings before school, evenings, and weekends. Meeting only during school hours. Involving families in selecting a new reading program Announcing a new reading program. Surveying families to get their ideas and opinions about activities and programs. Planning events, then publicizing them to parents. Tips for Partnering with Parents From Beyond the Bake Sale

32 Putting it All Together Families feel most welcome in schools where they are – Respected – Validated – Viewed as partners in their children’s education

33 Best wishes in Creating your Welcoming Place Thank you for joining us today Please join us on November 3, 2010 from 3:30 – 5:00 for Parent Involvement Resources for Illinois Families and Schools

34 Presenters: Joseph Banks, Illinois State Board of Education Reatha Owen, Academic Development Institute

35 References Solid Foundation Resource Manual The Academic Development Institute Beyond the Bake Sale Anne T. Henderson, Karen L. Mapp, Vivian R. Johnson, and Don Davies PIRC Vermont

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