Creating A Welcoming Place
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Creating A Welcoming Place . Creating A Welcoming Place . The first Webinar in a Parent Involvement Webinar Series Provided by the Illinois State Board of Education in partnership with the Academic Development Institute . Our Agenda. Creating a Welcoming Place Monitor Your Message

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Slide 1

Creating A Welcoming Place

The first Webinar in a Parent Involvement Webinar Series

Provided by the Illinois State Board of Education

in partnership with the Academic Development Institute

Our agenda
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

Why is a welcoming place important
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

How does trust relate to learning
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

Monitor your message
Monitor Your Message

  • 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 message1
Monitor Your Message

  • 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?

Monitor your message2
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

Monitor your message3
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

Ponder your postings
Ponder Your Postings

  • 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

Ponder your postings1
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

Slide 1

Welcome to Smiley School

Please come to the office so we can assist you.

Principal, Able A. Willing

Messengers matter
Messengers Matter

  • 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

Messengers matter1
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

Policies procedures in practice
Policies & Procedures in Practice

  • 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

Policies procedures in practice1
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?

Policies procedures in practice2
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)

Policies procedures in practice3
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

The value of volunteers
The Value of Volunteers

  • 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

The value of volunteers1
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

The value of volunteers2
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

Putting it all together1
Putting it All Together

  • 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

Putting it all together2
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

Putting it all together3
Putting it All Together

  • Check your family friendliness with a family friendly walkthrough

    • Family Friendly Walkthrough

  • Survey your visitors for friendliness feedback

    • A School Community Survey

  • Evaluate your staff’s ability to build productive relationships with families

    • The Kentucky Rubric

Tips for partnering with parents
Tips for Partnering with Parents

From Beyond the Bake Sale

Putting it all together4
Putting it All Together

  • Families feel most welcome in schools where they are

    • Respected

    • Validated

    • Viewed as partners in their children’s education

Slide 1

Thank you for joining us today

Best wishes in Creating your Welcoming Place

Please join us on November 3, 2010

from 3:30 – 5:00 for

Parent Involvement Resources for Illinois Families and Schools

Slide 1


Joseph Banks, Illinois State Board of Education

Reatha Owen, Academic Development Institute


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