Identifying all stakeholders is a necessary step in the design process. This process is a strategic way to identify needs and implementation of solutions. Stakeholders can provide various perspectives that help decision-makers identify needs in a school or district. Receiving input is an integral part; otherwise, a school district, in reality, could be applying “band-aids” to their problems. Parents are often overlooked but provide valuable information to this process.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “The job of the school is to teach so well that family background is no longer an issue.” In a public school setting, many variables are apparent. From race to economics, the parents’ fundamental expectation for their child’s education is the same. It is to have them learn in a safe environment. Education is often referred to as the great equalizer. This is achieved when schools and parents work together. There are many ways to involve parents in an elementary public school setting.
When school administrators meet with parent groups to determine needs and look at possible solutions, it’s vital to have a trusting relationship. From an elementary school perspective, parents are often very involved when their children are young. This is excellent news for elementary schools! However, it becomes more complex as children become more active in other organizations because this pulls their time and attention. For example, suppose a parent group meeting is impossible due to Covid or other constraints. In that case, another way to get valuable information from parents is through surveys and interviews.
Be mindful of the “not another survey” mentality. Too many surveys or lengthy surveys often skew the data. On the other hand, surveys sent through SurveyMonkey or googled forms can be a quick way to gather input in an easy-to-read format.
As decision-makers meet with individual parents, interviewing may be a great way to gather information. Asking open-ended questions allows stakeholders an opportunity to have their voices heard. Often only the loudest voices are listened to in groups.
Long Term Goals
Establishing advisory teams that include parents should be part of the school’s overall goal. In my district, each school has an established advisory group. This is a monthly opportunity to
discuss important issues within the school. These were already established when issues about remote learning were discussed earlier this year; there was no need to “catch” parents upon the situation. These parents were also part of the decision to return to school full-time.
Identifying all stakeholders and listening to their perspectives when implementing programs and resources will provide much-needed information. Through meetings, surveys, and establishing goals teams, decision-makers will be able to make thoughtful considerations. In addition, by including parents in the design process, parents become a valuable asset to the school community and help meet all stakeholders’ expectations.