fast forward for a moment. Here's the scenario:
Your community forum was a success. You saw high participation from
parents, community members, business leaders and others from different
minority and socioeconomic backgrounds. The event was well-promoted
across the communityin churches, local restaurants, corner
grocery stores and on local radio stations. Participants were engaged
in the conversation because the discussion focused on the school
issues that mattered most to them. All in all, it was a successful
event. Your work is done.
Well, not quite.
There is one more critical step and it's often the one that is
overlooked the most.
Participants who attended the discussionand even those who
could notwant information explaining what will happen next.
They want to know what impact the discussion will have on improving
public schools or how it will affect their child's education. They
want to know that their opinion is not only valued but that the
appropriate leaders are responding to their concerns.
Call or meet one-on-one with community and neighborhood groups
who helped organize the event. Share next steps with leaders of
culturally diverse organizations who can then share the information
with their members. Write articles for school newsletters or community
newspapers that summarize what issues were discussed and highlight
next steps. Next steps might include an action plan, a report to
the school board or intensive committee work.
can also reinforce how much involvement is valued by demonstrating
how you will build upon the issues raised by parents and community
members in future meetings. When that follow-up discussion does
occur, effective facilitators start the meeting by summarizing the
key issues raised in the previous meeting and set clear goals that
build upon those issues rather than cover old ground. And, if there
is to be another meeting, make sure that all participants have any
needed information before they leave.
When this work is done well, it's more likely that future community
meetings will attract broader interest and deeper commitment from