Lately, I’ve noticed many school districts are reluctant to engage their stakeholders, preferring instead to act under the radar. But if disaster strikes, how can a district count on stakeholder support if it has failed to build up trust reserves? How can stakeholders help a district weather the proverbial storm if the district never bothered to sound the alarm in the first place?
Engagement was — and remains — the key. It starts with district leadership working with principals, staff and students to shape and refine their larger vision, finding a voice that allows them to communicate with unity, clarity and authority. It then moves to community-wide engagement, as the district solicits feedback and builds consensus.
Unfortunately, when it comes to internal communications, many districts either function in silos or find effective communication hindered by disorganization. But if school districts create an internal “sharing window,” not only will they breathe new life into stale conversations, they might also create effective and executable action plans.
A school district is the heart of the community; it must serve to bring everyone together, rather than being a source of divisiveness. Only when the district speaks with one voice will it be able to successfully engage parents and community members.
All stakeholders — whether they agree with their district’s decisions or not — must clearly understand who the district is, where it’s going and how it plans to get there. Engagement coupled with transparency unifies a community. And with unity, we can truly make a difference in our children’s education.
So, what are you waiting for? Dive on in; the water’s just fine.