Open-minded and curious about practical family engagement approaches that build relationships and system-wide capacity, the REL Central governing board asked many questions about Parentcamp at the conclusion of my presentation. The questions were geared at the HOW, stemming from the the status quo issues administrators face. REL Central specifically chose the topic of family engagement for this meeting, seeking to explore new possibilities and practices for schools in their home states.
Social Tapestry: Watching Jane Groff, Executive Director of KPIRC, share of her extensive community engagement work in Kansas was inspiring. Extended conversations with new friends Carrie Germeroth, Michelle Lane and Joe Boven have me smiling still today.
Observations on Personalized Design: I felt warmly welcomed by REL Central educators and researchers. I noticed both management (smooth) and leadership intertwined seamlessly while I was with REL Central. One thing I observed yesterday with REL Central, which I feel is deeply important to all work in education, was a design thinking leadership practice which is underrated, underused yet luckily, EASY to employ. This practice has potentially huge benefits for all. This practice was the use of feedback loops. At the end of the session, members were asked for their feedback and input on a wide variety of things—things that happened that day and things they would like to see or want to see in the future. Members had multiple places and ways in which to share their perspectives—technology, paper, conversation. REL Central actually makes decisions based on the feedback they get from their members. This makes perfect sense but it is not common practice in education. Feedback loops create a community of people who are cared for and who care back. This breeds mutual respect and creates the conditions for co-design and co-leadership.
This practice of intentional design feedback loops is EXACTLY what you do with parent engagement. It is one thing we use in Parentcamp.
Family-School-Community Engagement is not rocket science—it’s pedagogy!