We need to build community capacity (a.k.a. Agreeing with Jeff Utecht)

Earlier this week I disagreed with Jeff Utecht. Today I’m going to heartily agree with him. Over at the SchoolFinder blog, Jeff said:

It was interesting yesterday at a parent coffee we held where Kim Cofino and I showed the parents Karl Fisch’s Did You Know video. We had one parent ask “What is the school doing to prepare my child for this future?” That’s what we need. We need the parents to start asking those questions of our school. We need to educate our school boards, our parents, and then we will see change…..hopefully.

I’m absolutely delighted that the parent asked one of the questions from the end of Did You Know? 2.0. That’s exactly why Karl, xplane, and I included those questions - to prompt some parental and community pressure on school organizations and policymakers.

Many of us spend a lot of time working with educators, trying to help them envision what a change to a 21st century teaching-learning model might look like. But usually we don’t spend nearly enough time working with parents and community members - creating the vision, answering questions, and addressing concerns.

We need to be better communicators with our local folks, and by that I mean our entire community, not just the school board. We need to take every opportunity we can to have group conversations with parents and community supporters. They need to understand how our personal and professional lives are changing dramatically because of these digital technologies. Even if they’re not living it themselves at home or at work, they’re feeling the effects through their children, their employer, or their friends and family. But they may not understand exactly the depth of what’s occurring…

Help them understand. A side chat at a school event or over the back fence can pay dividends later when the school system asks for the community’s suppport. E-mailing a couple of videos can spark a conversation when you bump into someone at the grocery store, soccer game, or band concert. Invite a few people over for snacks and, while the kids play in the backyard or you play bridge, bring up a couple of issues for them to think about.

We need to invest more in our communities’ capacity to understand and to assist.

What are some successes that you’ve had with your local community? What are some good strategies that you can share for facilitating local stakeholder buy-in for 21st century-related change initiatives?

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