Talent Show and Building Community

Today our school did a talent show, and some parents were able to come and watch their students perform. The students all performed very well and the classes watching were very respectful and polite. They impressed me.

I thought it was cool that the parents could come in and watch, but I am sure some could not make it. One thing we could do to help them see it is broadcast it on Ustream.tv. I am planning on doing this for my students' book projects at the end of this month (just waiting for district approval ;). One added benefit of the streaming the talent show is that it would be a way to build community support, an essential part of a successful school.

A school with healthy level of community support will be a better school than one which doesn't. If two schools are essentially the same, but one school has enormous community support, it will be a better, more inviting, more successful school, with better student achievement.

I am sure this is not an easy thing to do, but I imagine that if everyone in the community is interested in the success of the school, it can happen. It starts with a principal being willing to allow others into the school. I guess not just willing, but actually inviting. The principal of the school would hold many community events in the school to help people feel like they can come to the school. The principal would also get rid of those stupid "Every person entering this building must check in at the principal's office" signs. I think this principal would also have to live in the school's boundaries (there might even be a house next door to the school where the principal lives).

In classrooms there would be a lot of parent involvement. Parents would be there volunteering to help Monday through Thursday, with some coming in on Fridays. I have 165 students. If one parent of each student came in once, that would take care of the whole year. In these classrooms with parent involvement, there would be a lot of hands-on activities, learning centers (stations), places of individual or group work, as well as a "lecture" place if that is needed as well.

To help parents (and teachers) there would be a day-care type class that teachers could bring their children to. It would be run by a couple teachers and a bunch of students. It would be free to those who left their kids there while they helped in classrooms. This incentive could help young, energetic parents come in to assist students and teachers.

At the end of the day, a part of the school would be blocked off. Tutoring would be available after school almost every day. Computer labs would be opened, and extra-curricular activities would be available for students who need a place to be after school. It will keep them safer than being home alone or on the street causing problems.

Several nights each month, businesses and community and religious groups will use the building for meetings, training, learning, growing, sports, and anything else they need.

Here are the reasons why we should do these things:
  • People will enjoy sending their kids to a school that is open and inviting.
  • Parents and business leaders will be willing to donate money, time, energy, effort, and resources to the school if they are actively involved in it.
  • An open inviting school will be safe, not because we make people check in at the office, but because everyone at the school will care about keeping it safe. Friendliness is more effective than mandates to "check anyone without an ID badge" and that will make the difference.
  • Fewer problems with discipline because students aren't going to goof off as much if 1) they know the teacher talks to their mom or dad weekly or 2) their mom, dad, or friend's mom or dad is there in the class with them.
Are there negative aspects of this plan? I am sure there are, but class is about to start so I will leave on a utopian note ;). Let me know your thoughts in the comments section.

Have a good life.


    Good ideas Jethro. Sadly in today's society no place is safe, especially schools, to not have people check in at the office. It would be awesome to have more parents be able to help out in school and make it possible for them to do it. Parent involvement is essential to student's success and too bad it doesn't happen enough.

    On February 8, 2008 at 5:23 PM Lorna Costantini said...

    I like your idea about Ustreaming your class. Please take a look at www.parents.ourschool.ca for some ideas. I want to comment on the definition that you are using to describe parent involvement. It certainly is exciting to have parents volunteer in the classroom but there are several other ways to engage parents without them volunteering. Please wonder over to www.parents.ourschool.ca and www.ourschool.ca/NiagaraCatholic for more ideas on how parents can help support their children.

    Staci, thanks for your comment, and I agree, it probably will never be the same as it was before Columbine, but it is nice to dream. I just wish there were a way.

    Lorna, thanks for the great resources. I will definitely be utilizing some of those great ideas when I am a principal, and hopefully I can incorporate some things now. I am trying use Ustream right now (bureaucracy is preventing that) and I will be using Skype soon, I hope. We have a wiki, but I am still struggling with getting parents to be involved. I think I am missing a major step, I need to explicitly invite them to participate.