Because my school's mission is to contribute to a more joyful, peaceful, and sustainable globalization process for ALL, it is imperative that this begin within the school community. All teachers and staff must be open, welcoming and serve as models of joy, peace and sustainable behaviors and actions. However, as obvious as this may be to me, as the founder of Conexiones Institute, it may not be seen as a key job duty on behalf of the teachers and staff. The school is currently closed while we transition into a training center so there are no active teachers or staff right now. But when we start to hire again, I will make sure to make the objective of making sure everyone feels welcome at our institute is explicit vs only implicit.
To assess whether a stakeholder group or subgroup could be more effectively welcomed, I called 3 of our past staff members and 3 parents of students and asked them what could have been done better to make them feel welcome. I was glad to hear that all of them always felt welcomed and never felt excluded or unwelcomed. However, one parent suggested we produce more class events that included the parents, vs only one graduation ceremony, which we produced once a year.
Since I am the school leader, I did not have to imagine what I would do to improve welcoming this group. What I have to think about is when and how to implement strategies for welcoming the new community I am seeking to create when I relaunch Conexiones as a provider of services and classes for childcare providers, teachers and nannies. One thing I can do is have bi-annual gatherings of all the early childhood educators who go through the training we will offer so they meet each other in person and build relationships. I can also have an online discussion board/online community or wiki where they can share their experiences, ask questions of each other and share tips and tricks related to early childhood education, care and producing the Conexiones programs they will be trained in.
To continue welcoming my current stakeholders, which are mainly our alumni, past staff, and members who have donated their time or money to the cause, I have a Facebook group which I try to keep as active as possible. I keep them abreast of the changes happening, the stages of incubation and relaunch and share relevant news on our accomplishments. I could continue to stimulate conversation about best childcare practices, new research on the lifelong benefits of second language and outdoor immersion in early years of life, etc. Everyone, regardless of their background or role in relation to Conexiones Institute, would be encouraged and welcomed to engage and opine and have healthy conversations about topics that unite us and which made them join Conexiones or enroll their children in a Conexiones program to begin with. The one problem I have with Facebook Groups is that not everyone is on Facebook so I lose the participation of some stakeholders. However, of all the easy to implement platforms I tried, this one had the most success with regards to adoption. Other platforms I tried either did not have the functionality or made folks have to create new accounts on other apps. Thus, I settled on FB for now.
Commit to 5 things you are willing to do this semester that will make your school a more welcoming place:
1. Send out more posts about the progress I am making in this transition of the company and send them out via email too so that everyone on our list is included, not just those on the FB group.
2. Share more articles and studies (1 x per month) about subjects relevant to our members and which support our mission and show that we are on the right path towards nurturing peace by focusing our efforts on what we are focusing them on.
3. Create a birthday calendar and send out happy birthday messages to all my past students and graduates.
4. Organize an alumni picnic twice per year - one in SF and one in the East Bay - so that all past graduates have an opportunity to attend vs only one in the East Bay which is too far for most SF families.
5. Update our website so that those who find out about us - whether nannies interested in our training or parents looking for our programs, can easily find the information they are looking for and have clear calls to action to stay informed and become involved.