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How to include the community when making key school decisions

Getting more minds in the mix is essential to building consensus and support for your programs; here’s a new technology tool that can help

Finding common ground is a difficult, yet essential, task of teacher, principal, and district leadership.

As the 2012 presidential election and the fiscal cliff battle indicates, political division is the new normal. Created to serve as common schools for the common good, public schools are often caught in the crosshairs of opposing factions.

Finding an increasingly elusive common ground is a difficult, yet essential, task of teacher, principal, and district leadership, however.

That’s why the notion of peer, student, and public engagement is gaining such currency, whether through professional learning communities, 21st century learning strategies, voice polls, online surveys, or potluck suppers built around hot topics like safety, new curriculum initiatives, or looming budget cuts.

Technology tools and services are helping school leaders engage key audiences in new and important ways, from starting conversations with constituents via social media to participatory budget processes that seek to get more community voices to the decision-making table.

While free and inexpensive applications are plentiful online, pulling all these disparate tools together can be time-consuming. Plus, freebies and cheap applications don’t always work well on a district-wide basis, and they can threaten network security.

(Next page: How a web-based service called MindMixer can help)

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