“The basics of a strong parent community are the same as for a strong friendship. Friendliness, a willingness to listen, being there for support, giving as well as taking.”
If you’re a PTA chair, a Class Rep or a Head Teacher, you might want to read on. Because once you’ve got your school community on side, it’ll be like having a new best friend around. Listening ears, offers of help, fresh ideas and support for events and new initiatives. Just what you’re after.
Here are Classlist’s top six tips for managing your community and building strong relationships that work both ways.
Turn up your friendly factor…
Who on earth likes a lukewarm reception? No one. Use Classlist to send your friendly good wishes from the start.
Write a welcome post each new parent will see when they join their class group. This gives them an instant acknowledgement that they’re now part of the team. It will also let others in the group know who else is coming on board, so parents can start forging friendships online straightaway.
Class Reps are often particularly successful at bridging the gap with parents, as they tend to take on a lot of one-to-one communication. If you don’t already have any Class Reps, recruit some – sharpish.
Think of yourself as the friendly figurehead of the school community. As long as you turn up to events, respond to messages, greet parents when you see them and make it clear that input on PTA matters is welcomed, you’ll be well on your way to building a tighter community.
Get acquainted with parents…
What better way to get to know everyone than organising a get-together? Use the Classlist event function to plan a parent social or a class coffee morning. Even better, find out what your parent community likes to do and organise something along those lines.
If you notice some niche interests popping up, you might want to create smaller groups on Classlist where like-minded folk can join up and do what they love.
You could also celebrate the diversity of your group. If you know your community includes families from different backgrounds and cultures, they might be keen to celebrate these as part of a school-wide event or a parent social.
While you’re learning more about each other, you may find lots of valuable skills and ideas that you can pool to create all sorts of good things for your school.
Make it a two-way conversation…
“Instead of a newsletter where the communication is just one way, we now have two-way conversations with parents – posting information up to the whole school and getting responses.”
– Amell Amatino, PTA Chair at La Fontaine Academy
When dealing with any group of people, communication is king. And Classlist is built for it: parent-to-parent messaging, announcements, class walls – all ways to contact parents directly, rather than going through your school office.
Use Classlist to post messages asking for ideas (for future events, the venue for the next social, the best use of PTA funds) then consider and reply to responses, rather than just dictating. When PTAs do all the talking, you can guarantee parents will feel less valued and less willing to engage.
Don’t ask for the moon…
If you ask for help, don’t start off by demanding huge favours. Requesting small amounts of people’s time and energy will encourage more to get involved. And if parents are contributing, make sure you are too.
Turn up the fun…
Arranging events, building relationships, raising funds… none of it needs to be dull. We bet your community members have plenty of creative ideas to make things more exciting. Turn up the fun and you’ll also turn up the motivation to come together.
Take a step closer to your community today
Remember that parents are more heavily invested in their children than in anything else. That means they’re pretty interested in school life too. With a bit of encouragement, most parents will want to support the school community in its goals.
Get started today – create an announcement, plan an event, call a meeting for ideas… It’s over to you.
Let us know how you get on or share your community management tips for other schools to try out.