You are the face of your school—parents look to you for insight on important school issues, and want reassurance that you have the best interests of their children at heart.
It can be hard for parents to feel like you’re connected to them and their children from behind your desk or through your school’s emails and social media posts. That’s why we suggest holding monthly “Head chats,” inviting parents to campus to have friendly discussions about topics that matter to them.
These events should be informal, perhaps rotating between coffee hours, evening potlucks, or meetings in the community. Try to provide child care when possible so parents can concentrate on connecting with you.
When structured correctly, families will appreciate your effort and take advantage of the opportunity to talk with you face-to-face. These Head talks also provide key benefits for you.
Strengthen your relationships with families
Parents who make the effort to attend events like this are clearly involved in their children’s education. They might be interested in getting involved in other ways, too. If they feel that you’re working with them to provide a quality program for their children, these parents will probably be the ones who respond best to requests for donor stories, volunteers, and offers to become more deeply involved in the culture of the school.
Turn parents into influencers
Parents who feel strongly tied to your school’s mission will be leaders within your school community. These get-togethers are an opportunity to discuss new programs and initiatives with those who are most heavily invested in the school.
These influencers are also the ones who can convince other parents and community members to become more involved in some way—to donate, volunteer, or re-enroll. Drawing these people more deeply into your school creates community ambassadors who will generate the time, talent, and treasure your school needs to keep it running smoothly.
Gain vital feedback
An informal, casual setting is the perfect opportunity for you to hear relaxed praise—as well as criticisms—of various school initiatives, employees, and facilities that might be more difficult to hear otherwise. Such feedback might come from spontaneous one-on-one conversations with parents, or be actively sought if you ask parents for their thoughts directly.
This feedback allows you to nip problems in the bud before they bloom into catastrophes, and nurture those programs that are well-received. Knowing what’s running through the rumor mill helps you keep a handle on the overall impression your school presents to its current constituents, as well as control community messaging to prospective families.
Heads chats are the perfect opportunity to connect with your families, strengthening your personal relationships and your community as a whole.
Additional ISM Resources:
The Source for School Heads Vol. 17 No. 7 How to Flourish as a New School Head
The Source for Advancement Vol. 18 No. 1 From Millennials to Boomers: How to Communicate With Today’s Parents
Additional Resources for ISM Members:
I&P Vol. 42 No. 10 Well-Being, Executive Leadership, and School Performance
I&P Vol. 44 No. 11 The Parent Association: Your Partner in Community Engagement
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