How to build a meaningful relationship with your school board

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Editor’s Note: This article is part of a monthly series from Michele Hill and a rotating guest blogger that shares advice and expertise as educators who demonstrate the importance of working together to help create a school culture of excellence for all students and staff. You can read more great articles by clicking on the ‘Dynamic Synergy’ tag or by clicking here.

Schools are filled with students, teachers, support staff and administrators — everyone knows that. These are the recognizable faces of the people who are making a difference in education. But there is also a group of dedicated individuals who shape policy and make decisions that affect each school and school district: members of the school board.

Though school board members often aren’t the first people we consider when we think about who impacts our school districts, but their ability to affect the overall culture and success of a school is undeniable. The relationship between a school and their school board members is an important one — and when students, staff and administration join arms with school board members, the entire school is better for it.

A typical school day is filled with events and celebrations, crisis (whether it’s imagined or real), extra curricular activities and so much more. School board members participate in all of these, even though it’s often behind the scenes. Thus, relationships with board members are key. With that in mind, here are some ways to foster a more connected and public relationship with BOE members:

Invite them in!

We  send calendar invites to upper administration to attend school events, but we also invite members of the school board. These individuals volunteered to make a difference in education and they love to see what’s going on in your school. 

Attend Board of Education meetings.

Not because you are obligated to, but because you want to. Attending school board meetings helps build an amicable relationship and partnership between school employees and members of the school board. It also keeps you in the know of what is going on, issues that are being considered and decisions that are being made. Pride and best practice presentations at board meetings bring both sides together and showcase the great things happening at schools in your district.

Create a School Board Advisory Unit.

An SBAU composed of interested students, staff, administrators and community members can forge a productive working relationship that shapes policy in meaningful ways. Having stakeholders from every sector weigh in on important decisions and issues strengthens relationships and forms a wonderful foundation for collaboration. 

Partner with members of the BOE.

Every community has events throughout the year and are frequently looking for organizations to participate. Partner up to offer service to others or create an experience that is facilitated by both school personnel, students and school board members. 

Design a space for BOE members.

BOE members come from all walks of life and from all professions. If possible, have a space that BOE members can use and hours that they can use it. It keeps them in the loop of things going on in the school and invites them to build relationships with students and staff. 

Create ongoing learning experiences.

School board members may not be well versed in your school’s latest curriculum, technology, or initiatives in an intimate way. Hold work sessions for school board members so they can educate themselves on the trends in your school. It a wonderful way for them to experience being a student again. 

Let them be part of the magic!

Have your board members announce the educators of the year and other celebratory rituals. When people feel that they’re a part of the fabric of a school, they want to show up and show out!

Great school board members work as part of the school team to ensure that the vision and goals of the school district are carried out. They focus on what’s best for students by actively advocating at the local, state and national level. Welcome them with open arms and let them share in the successes of your school and district. 

About the author

Michele Hill is a passionate educator who serves as a coordinator of admissions and communications at Burlington County Institute of Technology. Throughout her career as an educator, Michele has been a champion for struggling and impoverished students. Michele has been a guest blogger for ASCD Inservice, McGraw Hill, Principal Leadership, Teacher Tool Kit UK, Edweek and ASCD Road Tested. Michele is the producer of DisruptEdTV School Spotlight. You can follow Michele on Twitter @HillMrispo or visit her blog: spiritededucator.blogspot.com

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