Engaging parents: A tip from a West Van PACDecember 20, 2013
Looking for ways to draw more parents to PAC meetings? If so, consider the “open forum” initiative at Rockridge secondary school in West Vancouver, which offers parents an opportunity at every PAC meeting to raise issues of concern in a comfortable environment.
PAC chair Irene Leschert described the process to me during the BCCPAC fall leadership conference and I thought it worth sharing. She gave me the following description of the open forum, which is now a standing item on her PAC’s meeting agenda:
The forum occurs at the end of each PAC meeting. It does not make the meeting longer (currently 90 minutes) and will be timed to 20 minutes at our next meeting. Staff are not present for this agenda item (and we continue a great relationship with Administration).
Our first ‘Open Forum’ included two topics that were planned. This was to give the parents ideas of what kinds of things could be discussed (textbook availability in the classroom, ways the PAC could help build school spirit amongst the students).
The stage for the forum was set with the following guidelines:
– We exist to make the school a better place, and ‘Open Forum’ discussions will be facilitated to that end;
– No people issues;
– Teachers remain the first point of contact for individual student discussions (then Admin, District, Board).
The process, as it now stands:
– Parents are asked at the beginning of the forum if there are topics they would like to include;
– The amount of time available is divided evenly among the topics, and each topic is given the same amount of time;
– Those who contribute topics are given the option to defer, in light of time available for it and other topics brought forward;
– At the end of each topic discussed, a brief recap is given of the issue and applicable next steps communicated;
– Follow-up on issues takes place between meetings;
– Reporting out (on follow-up) occurs at PAC meetings, through the parent e-bulletins, and on the Parent Page of the school website.
The ‘Open Forum’ is quite new to our PAC.