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Building External School Relations

Module by: Janet Tareilo. E-mail the author

Summary: The content in this module is aligned with the Educational Leadership Constituent Council (ELCC) Standard 4 and the Texas State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) Competency 002. ELCC Standard 4.0 - Candidates who complete the program are educational leaders who have the knowledge and ability to promote the success of all students by collaborating with families and other community members, responding to diverse community interests and needs, and mobilizing community resources. SBEC Competency 002 – the principal knows how to communicate and collaborate with all members of the school community, respond to diverse interests and needs, and mobilize resources to promote student success.

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Note:

This module has been peer-reviewed, accepted, and sanctioned by the National Council of the Professors of Educational Administration (NCPEA) as a scholarly contribution to the knowledge base in educational administration.

Goal

The goal of our lesson on Building External School Relations focuses on you, as a future school leader, developing a level of understanding about the importance of creating a positive relationship between the school and its external publics.

Objectives

At the conclusion of this module, you will be able to understand the importance of:

  • identifying the school’s external publics
  • establishing positive and effective means of communication
  • developing strategies to sustain continual external school relations

Introduction

The process used in developing real partnerships with all the stakeholders in the community requires a readied school leader who facilitates, encourages, and promotes a positive outlook toward school and community relations. As the principal of a school, you will be responsible for developing and maintaining this kind of working relationship with the external public entities found in your community. Through this model, you will have an opportunity to (a) determine the publics that exist outside the school setting, (b) examine effective means of communication, and (c) establish meaningful strategies that encourage relevant two-way dialogue. The ultimate goal for any school administrator in trying to build a working relationship with the external publics is the improvement of the student’s educational experience. Therefore, your principalship should reflect your effort, determination, and commitment to involve the external stakeholders in the educational process found on your campus.

Organizational Thought

Clearly, the principal of a school campus must establish a relationship with those members of the public sector who will and can support the efforts of the school to ensure a quality educational system is in place. Therefore, this module regarding external school relations allows you, as the campus principal, means to develop an understanding of the importance of including the community that exists outside the school setting. By initiating two-way communication with these outside sources, providing opportunities for honest dialogue and encouraging involvement of all the stakeholders, your principalship will be filled with positive experiences and lifelong commitments to you and your school.

Objective 1: Identifying School External Publics

When principals develop relationships with their external publics, they enhance their opportunities to develop and encourage community support of their efforts. Some of the external publics found outside the school setting are (1) the parents, (2) the business community, (3) the non-profit groups such as churches and assistance centers, and (4) the publicly-funded organizations. Each of these entities has the potential for becoming a valuable and essential tool to assist you in the achievement of the educational goals your school has developed.

Developing Your Leadership Potential

  1. Early in your principalship, develop a sense of trust between you and your parents.
  2. Remove any barriers that may exist that would discourage community involvement.
  3. Know who and what community members exist in your area.
  4. Use a variety of means to connect with the parents, churches, law enforcement agencies, media sources, and other community members.

Objective 2: Establishing Positive and Effective Means of

Communication

As the school principal, you will be expected to engage the external publics in active and authentic communication practices. You will be required to work with a variety of people from many areas. Whether through an open house or a school newsletter, establishing ways to “talk to and with” these groups is your responsibility. Equally, you are called upon to assist the staff and faculty in this same endeavor. By encouraging positive and productive dialogue between you, your staff, and the community, your principalship will reflect your willingness to include all outside stakeholders in the educational process and ultimately, help in the achievement of the school’s academic goals.

Developing Your Leadership Potential

  1. Opening up lines of communication between the school and the community should be one of your primary goals as the principal.
  2. Attempt to include the external publics should always be genuine, honest, and consistent.
  3. Learn who people are and what services they provide that could assist your school in meeting the established goals.

Objective 3: Developing Strategies to Sustain Continued School

Community Relations

Identifying the external publics and developing a relationship with them is only part of building a positive school and community connection. An equally important component centers on developing strategies that sustain continued school community relations. Your role as the principal will be to inform, invite, and encourage constant involvement between your school and the community. Whether parents or bank presidents, each one should be well-informed about the activities and successes that happen on your campus. In this way, you help to continue the practice of encouraging and expecting continued information regarding the school, the students, and the educational process.

Developing Your Leadership Potential

  1. Once you establish the public entities in your school area, identify a contact person at each site.
  2. Discuss with them the best means to send and receive information.
  3. Develop strategies that encourage continual parental involvement.
  4. Conduct a professional development session with your staff regarding the importance of involving the community in the educational process.

Conclusion

Patrick and Brown (2006) maintain that the person responsible for enhancing the learning of every student by creating, maintaining, and sustaining a positive working relationship with members of the external community must be the campus principal. That’s you. Involving the publics through a variety of activities, keeping two-way lines of communication open, and developing a sense of trust are vital in building a lasting relationship with all the community members. Ultimately, you and your school are responsible for involving those outside the school doors a way to feel a part of what’s happening inside the school.

Working with the Material

Think about the following and apply your skills and knowledge of the external school relations to:

  1. Determine the publics that exist in your school area.
  2. Once identified, develop a plan of action to involve all the stakeholders.
  3. Investigate means of effective communication that provide an exchange of needed information regarding your school.
  4. As the principal of a school, how would you encourage a continuous relationship with community member?
  5. Develop a continuing plan for parental involvement in the school setting.

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