How to Build Better Communities through Developing Your School as a Community Hub | The Better Mindset Podcast | Episode Ten

It’s never been more important than ever for school leaders to take an active part in connecting their families and wider community together. Schools are often the main point of contact for people now and Mark and Bex unpack some practical ways we can bring people together. Mark also shares a digital tool he’s started using that can help leaders and teachers get some organisation out of the chaos of their professional and personal lives.

Check out the resources mentioned in this episode:

Notion link
The Better Mindset Podcast Episode 8

We post every week and would love to have you keep up with us. If you know someone who would get value from these episodes, hit the share button and let them know. Lastly, if you have questions or anything to share with us, email us at team@usingtechnologybetter.com. You can also contact Bex at bex@usingtechnologybetter.com to find out how you can get free PD in your schools (NZ) or follow us on Instagram at @usingtechnologybetter or on youtube.com/@utb

We’d love to hear from you! See you next week.

Chapters:

7:43 – What’s Notion and how can you use it?
 
9:55 – How do you combat your working frustrations?
 
17:36 – Your school as a community hub.
 
22:38 – How to get more parents involved in school life.
 
30:05 – Encourage feedback from parents and community members to continuously improve your school.
 
 

Podcast Transcript Podcast Below:

Bex Rose: 0:00

We had one of the coolest community events we had was actually with you last year in your influence, because we had UTB come through our school. And it was right on the brink of COVID and Head of Production all lined up, ready to go. And then COVID hit and all the kids were all given their part. So it was really devastating for the kids. And then Mr. Mark Herring this day I himself I wI and South came and he goes, how about you turn it into, like a movie or a cinema type screening, so we ended up flipping it completely. And it was amazing. The kids were buzzing, it was so awesome. The better mindset podcast.

Mark Herring: 0:38

Welcome to the Better Mindset Podcast. I’m Mark Herring, and I’m the X rays. And this is episode 10. A podcast where our aim is to help you be better school leaders and teachers and drive effective digital change in your schools. On today’s episode, we continue our series on building better communities with our school. So Bex will unpack some really practical ways that your school can be a community hub. And I’ve got a super practical digital tool to help us better deal with the overwhelm of our professional and personal lives. Our books on making waves today, what we’ve got is something a little bit different, I’m actually going to do a little bit of a combination between looking at a trend and find trying to talk about some solutions to that. And then what we’ve been doing with the trainers where they’ve been talking about an app, because I’ve got a bit of a solution that’s starting to work for me and starting to reap some benefits. But the making wave trend that I want to talk about is overwhelmed. If you say to most hitters I know we talk about this a lot, you know we’re talking about make it better. As one of our core values. Our podcast is called better mindset. And it’s about becoming better everyday. So what’s that 1% thing that we could be doing better for ourselves personally, professionally in our schools as leaders in our classrooms. So if you think about the overwhelm that we’re feeling in New Zealand, at the moment, there are teacher strikes going on, I think in a couple of days. So it would have been last week from by the time this is published in Australia, I know that teachers are really struggling to stay in the profession, I had a number of conversations when I was over the last week, where there are a number of people thinking about leaving, and there’s some crazy percentage in the 60s who were thinking about seeing out the year and then they’re going to leave the profession, that’s really becoming something that is a real need for us to address. And so there’s not one answer to it. It’s not about getting paid more, it’s not about doing less work. One of the things I know that we’ve talked about is looking at the types of work that you’re doing, and maybe trying to lean into the things that do give you energy that I think could be one piece of the puzzle. But there’s another piece of the puzzle that I just wanted to give a little bit of a slant on and a really practical thing that I’m doing to help me deal with my overwhelm. Because it’s very similar in our space where we’re facilitators, we’re trainers with coaches, we’re working with schools to help them and we are juggling so many different balls at one particular time, what I am going to base this kind of practical tip, and it’s actually a tool that you can go away and find if this one works for you jump into it and use it. But if not, then you can go use a different one. But it’s based on this whole idea that my head isn’t designed to hold information. It’s designed to come up with ideas. And so that that’s the basic premise. You know, we’ve talked about that before, our brain wasn’t designed to hold information, it was designed to come up with stuff, which is a whole nother conversation when the AI can do that for us as well. Totally. But But I was I was in a room full of admin and operations staff managers from large schools, some of them are small schools. And I said to them, what’s one of the main pain points for you at the moment. And the overwhelming feedback I got from the room, it’s about 50 in the room was the fact that they are feeling overwhelmed with numbers of complexity of apps, and software’s and communication channels and everything that’s happening. So it was very complex for them. So what I think I’m jumping back into is the need to have an organizational tool that pulls all the threads together into one place. So if you think of messages that come in through your chat channel, whether it’s teams or Google Chat, when you think of external emails that come are coming in when you’re thinking about projects that you’re working on, and then you’ve got and that’s just work, right. So as a teacher leader in a school, you’ve got all of that coming professionally. But then you’ve also got your private finances, you’ve got maybe a habit tracking system that you’re trying to develop, where you’re trying to get into some some routines and some healthy habits, you might have some personal goals if you have them. My wife and I are working on those at the moment, we’ve just achieved our five year goals, which is pretty cool. And now we’re looking at what our next five year goals look like. Those are just some of the examples of all of these things that are washing around in your brain find it like how do I how do I pay my bills? You know, what does that look like? How do I make make sure I track birthdays, you know, like Have I missed my father in law’s birthday again for the fifth year role or something like that. So so what I want is I want to have one system to be able to put all of those in one place. And so these are the things that that tool or that organization tool needs to have. Number one, it needs to have some functionality across devices. So I’m very much in the Apple ecosystem. So I have a, you know, I have a smartwatch that connects with my, my phone, and it connects with an iPad and a laptop, and so on. And I need that to be cloud based and I need whatever I’ve got at one particular time, I don’t want to have to go back to my laptop to get that I want to be able to access it on my phone as well. And I need it to be across devices. So if I’m in a particular place, I can just log in and find it. That’s number one. And these have really good search functionality. So I don’t want to have to remember what folder did I keep that in? Where was that template? How do I keep that site as one search function, look for it and find it. I need it to be shareable with my wife. So particularly when I’m talking about my own personal finances, or my personal family goals, those types of things, the Birthday Calendar, I want to share that with with her so that she can track that and help us both hold each other accountable for things. And then I was thinking, what’s the last one I want? I actually want some AI and built into it. Because why would I want to go to an external function to use some of that artificial intelligence to be able to do things which I don’t know about you? How many times have you used it in the last three or four days? Well, would you say he’s about four

Bex Rose: 6:04

minutes ago? Yeah, absolutely streamlines your life and just makes things easier

Mark Herring: 6:11

and better. And so what I’ve been doing is I’ve been going to open our chat GP GPT and getting it and then copying and pasting it in somewhere else. I was thinking, wouldn’t it be cool to have that in one place? So let’s and you know, not just going to Bing and then exporting it and copying and pasting and putting it in somewhere else? What about if it was built in? So that when I’m coming up with ideas for Instagram, or I’m developing, you know, ideas for this podcast, or whatever it is that I’m doing, it’s all hardwired and built in? So are you ready for all of that? You’re pumped? Yeah, this is a sponsored message, it would be really helpful before I tell you, what I’m going to use a few came up with the types of things that you would like to use, I would go and use that. Now, before I tell you what I have been using up until now. And I will continue to use it. What I have been leaning into heavily for most of what I’m talking about is the Apple Notes app, which is a really nice way to just have folders and subfolders. You can have passwords on there. You can drop images on for taking notes, those types of things. It’s fantastic. It’s on all of my devices that does about three out of the five things that I want it to do. But what Apple notes doesn’t do very well is it’s not very functional with tables and tick boxes in a way that I want it to be able to do I want to take it to another level of complexity. So I want it to be a slightly better version of all of those things. Plus it doesn’t have aI at the moment, or not that I know of I don’t think Apple’s leaning into that. So the app that I’ve got, drumroll, please. Yeah, no, that was terrible. But the app that I’ve jumped into was one called notion in no t i o n, if you’re listening along, you can Google it, it’s free to use to start with you can just start an account, it’s fantastic. If you want to get the AI function, and there, you get 15 search terms or the capability to do 15 ai functionality, sort of spots within each page, I think it is. So I’ve just signed up. It’s $10 a month. So for me, it’s you know, I’m thinking that’s pretty, pretty affordable, if it’s going to be something that I’m going to run my life out of. Now, there are some notion nerds out there. And it’s I used it three years ago, I started to use it for my To Do lists, I had my calendar lists on there. And I would set up different templates for different things that I had to do each week. And that was how I ran a lot of my organization. But notion has gone to a whole nother level with its available templates and the AI function now. So you can jump onto a page in there hit the spacebar, and then some ideas for some prompts can come up straight away. So there are some incredible not only some incredible AI tools that you can use, but just a couple of things that are mentioned for people that they may may prompt them to go away and have a look. Number one is the template function. So down the bottom on the left hand corner, you can go down into templates. And there are categories of different types of templates that you can jump into one of the ones that I found, which I love, which is really going to help me manage some of the projects that I’m working on. And my role with UCB is the engineering template, which sounds weird, like, I’m not an engineer. But what it does is it formulates a template that where you can have all these individual projects, and then the project opens up with some really nicely formulated and you can customize them, obviously. But it’s got some formulated steps that you can go through some links to external ideas. And what I’m going to do is whenever somebody brings me an idea or asked me a question and says, you know, hey, we’ve got a real need in the school for this type, of course, or this kind of program. With my learning lead hat on I can jump into my ideas template, pump that out, get that started, get it to an ideas phase where I think there’s some real legs with that. And then what I’ll do is I’ll take that to the team and I’ll and I’ll get the team discerning it and then getting into some galvanizing and then pass it off, which is what I’d love to do.

Bex Rose: 9:55

Yeah, yeah, that sounds awesome. Do you know what this this f I’m just thinking relinking working doing this, this is how you combat your working frustrations isn’t that

Mark Herring: 10:04

well, it’s funny because if you think about notion what it is in the backend, that’s actually a really super powered Excel form. And so most of the time when, like, we’ve talked about this on the podcast before, enabling and tenacity, like particularly with the details are my weak points. So those are my frustrations. So I don’t usually like them. But notion is a spreadsheet that’s sort of I was gonna say steroids, but it’s more like it’s on growth hormone. So human growth hormone, so it’s, it looks really nice. So it’s visually really good, you can have a nice templates, it doesn’t have like the tables that are visible most of the time. But what it does, that creates a structure where it’s kind of like training wheels for riding a bike for somebody who’s detail impaired like I am. So I think we need

Bex Rose: 10:49

to, we need a beanbag, and every time you do a call analogy.

Mark Herring: 10:56

Or have a shot of coffee or something like that, play a drinking game, I put teacher framework around that

Unknown: 11:06

sounds really, really cool. Really cool,

Mark Herring: 11:08

too. But two other things that I’ve started using one is the habit template, so you can go on there. And we’ll have the habits mapped out for each day. And you can look at it in different ways, you can see it as a table with all of the habits vertically, and then your tick boxes going across the days. Or you can see it as one little box for the day. So on the day that I’m working on, you can just go down and quickly tick and you can get it on your phone enough. I’ve got habits like you know, having a cold shower and drinking four bottles of water and those types of things. And so when I’ve completed that in any particular day, I’m just going to tick that off. And then you get a whole view of the whole map. So you can see all these nice little blue ticks. You know those types of things. So that’s really cool. And then the last one, which I’m actually really excited about. In a previous episode, we talked about a note taking tool that you can do with a book, do you remember we talked about how you can write the notes and their margin and that type of thing? Well, what I want is a way to be able to digitize that. And to summarize that in some way, shape, or form. So what I’m thinking about doing is using the template for the reading list, and you can have a book, it’s like a little panel will open up for each book that you’re reading, there’s a prebuilt template in there. And it’s got dropdowns for wanting to read reading finish those types of things do you then have a link to any external things I can scan with the you know, there’s Apple apps that you can use in the notes that you can convert your handwriting into text and drop those notes onto that notion template. And then you can save all of those there. And then if you’ve got a reading list over the years, if you build up all of those notes, you would be able to search for leadership or search for inquiry learning. And then all of the books that you have collated over the years with the different topics would appear for you. So it’s a way of digitizing your physical bookshelf on the wall, and a little app. How does that sound?

Bex Rose: 12:55

This is I so desperate, I’ve taken it all my might not have to pick up my phone while you’re talking.

Mark Herring: 13:02

Discipline, yeah,

Bex Rose: 13:04

my waiting, oh, this sounds so good. And I love the way that it tracks, you know that all the things that you’ve got going on in your head, but on an app, you know, so it’s just taking that the invisible load, you know what I mean? Like there’s, there’s an invisible load that sits on your shoulders, and you know that you’ve got to do all these things. But being able to put it down and write it out is always so much better. You just feel you feel that instant relief of getting it out of your head and somewhere else. So this, this sounds really like a really practical way like that you can overwhelm is something that, you know, it’s not just teachers as everyone’s feeling, you know, it’s been, it’s been a heck of a last couple of the years. And I think everyone’s feeling it now. So having strategies in place, rather than just sort of like talking about it and talking about and talking about it, like an actual strategy is so good mark.

Mark Herring: 13:50

Yeah. And I think the main way that I’m going to start using it as not only having a place to be able to store all of those things, but they talk about the importance before you go to bed at night of being able to offload or download. And so just to be able to get at my iPad or my phone before I go into the bedroom, if you’re one of those people who has those devices out of your room, which they say is quite good. I’m not quite a bit at that point, it’s on my bedside table. But to be able to bring your phone out, go through, tick off the things that you need to do maybe think about for tomorrow and then just get them out of your head. And then what you’re doing is you’re kind of exporting that brainpower where you’re holding all of these things in your head off to another device that is backed up saved on the cloud, it’s all ready to go. It’s a cross device. Now I can just go back and I can read a book before I go to bed and have a bit of sleep. So how do you

Bex Rose: 14:38

find all these things? How do you find these, like, really come up with these because this is what used to do for me when you came into school was like be like, Hey, have you tried this, this this? We hear about them?

Mark Herring: 14:49

Well, I think it’s part of my genius area. So it’s about I’m always asking questions, how can I do this better and then so you’ll search for things but and then coming up with ideas. That’s Mike On a jam as well. So wondering invention, check out one of the previous episodes on working genius if you’re interested in diving into that, but I think YouTube is a great suggested for me. So I find it for me it came up because I was looking at AI again and looking at the different things that AI are coming into. And I know that notion I had seen something previously where notion had adopted an AI functionality. So that kind of hooked me. And then when I when I’ve seen the advancement that it’s made in the last couple of years, and this is probably one last point that I’ll make on making waves. Social media apps like YouTube, Instagram and Twitter get a really bad rap at the moment. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there’s a lot out on the universe, about how those things are terrible. And there is a sense of, of them being a big sense of overwhelm. And you know, particularly for a young people, you know, the whole comparison nature and those types of things. But I love Gary V’s interview recently where he talked about how social media for him is a real empowerment. And he said that you will get out of that tool. Basically, I’m paraphrasing, he said, you’ll get out of social media, how you use it. So it’s like doughnuts, you know, they’re good for parties. They’re good for, you know, for when you want them. But to have them every day. Yeah, absolutely. It’s gonna be terrible. And you’ve got to get the right. Yeah, you’ve got to get the right kind of face. Yes. But But what he was saying is he said, if you look at my social media, it’s complete sunshine, because of the people that he follows. He said, it’s just, it’s just a really positive tool. And so I use Twitter, and Instagram, and YouTube, those are probably the three that I go on the most. And the people that I follow are people that I follow, who give me value. So every time I go to YouTube, I’m seeing things that are hobbies, I’m seeing things that are adding value productivity, living minimally, how to you know how to cope with the overwhelm. And the same with Twitter. If I’m an on Instagram, I don’t tend to follow people who are posting this is me on the beach in Hawaii, check out my abs, I tend to follow people. Yeah. Or if I do I mute them. Right. Yeah. So that I don’t have to see them. And so how are

Bex Rose: 17:02

you? Have you muted

Mark Herring: 17:05

your front, your front and privacy. So it’s about using those tools for a way that’s going to give you value and give you benefit. And for some of you listening, you may want to jump into notion and have a look at that. Or you may want to find other apps. But definitely if you’re somebody who’s struggling with overwhelm, go through your feeds, mute or unfollow people who are just creating noise for you. But definitely find the things that I kind of give you value and help you move forward. And I think that’s one of the pieces of the puzzle for people.

Bex Rose: 17:36

Great service. Mark, thank you so much.

Mark Herring: 17:42

On today’s handy houses, we’re going to carry on with the segment that we’ve started to do with building community in your school. And so last week, we looked at social media and different ways that you can use those platforms to be able to build community, with the families, the extended family, the businesses, you know, the people who live in your region and grow those relationships are big. So you’ve got something for us today. That’s going to be talking about your school as a community hub. I’m excited about this.

Bex Rose: 18:08

Yeah, I’m a firm believer that that schools should be community hubs where people feel like they can go to and feel a sense of belonging is as essential to engage the school community because it helps build that sense of belonging and ownership. And when people feel like they have a stake in the Scott the success of a school, they’re more likely to support it and work to make it better. And I think this can lead to a far more positive school culture, better student outcomes, and a more supportive learning environments so engaging the school community can really help increase. The parent involvement in research does show that when parents are actively involved in their child’s education that leads to better academic outcomes, and employee behavior and higher levels of student engagement. So we need to create opportunities for parents to participate in school life, such as volunteering, attending school events, because it can strengthen that homeschool partnership. So we talked about establishing clear communication channels through social media last week. And so this time, I’m going to be talking about sort of like that real hands on in school sort of stuff. So we’re gonna start with hosting community events. So host community events like back to school nights, we always had like a back school barbecue invited the families to come back in have parent teacher conferences to encourage parents to and caregivers to visit the school and meet with the teachers and whoever their kids are interacting every day. We had so many community events probably a little bit overkill to begin with. And we started rolling it back because you could see there was like a drop off. So initially, there was you know, lots of people coming and it was kind of like this is a little bit too much. So we read the room or have that in kind of it’s in play once and I have noticed now though, after COVID, especially a community events have been far more well attended. I can’t have that The other night, we had my son’s at quite a large, Intermediate School. And intermediate is kind of like that point where sometimes that that community involvement drops off a little bit. But we went up to the family night and they had a bouncy castle on food and drinks and all the things and there was a lot of people there that turned up, and I was talking to the principal. And she said, Yeah, this is, by far the most people that have showed up to a community event. So I think giving people to have opportunities to be back on school grounds is really important, especially after this disconnect being going through COVID For the last couple of years.

Mark Herring: 20:37

It’s funny when you when you think back to our experience, when we were students school, I can’t remember my parents ever coming onto the roads for anything. Yeah, well, you know, we’re different generation, because we’re kind of like 15 years apart or something, like I went to, I went to primary school in the 80s, basically, and then, you know, I, I’m not going to tell my age. But um, but in though, in the 80s, pretty much your parents dropped you off at school, if they did, most of them say goodbye to you at the gate, the home gate, because you jumped on the bus. And that was that was the whole process. And really, schools only, they were only really involved in school, if they went for the first day or something like that, or it might have been the end of your assembly so definitely has changed. And all of that societal shift that’s happened over the generations, where, you know, we’re really in the last place for a lot of people to have that connection with, with their community is through school. And so, you know, you don’t have the church involvement that you used to back in the days, you don’t have the sports club involvement, because people people’s lives are busy. So the school has got a really opportunity, a real opportunity to do that. Now having that?

Bex Rose: 21:43

I think yeah, no, you’re right. It’s and I think maybe that maybe that is reflected like as when you’re a parent, what your parents, you know, kind of showed you as a kid, like, my parents really everything, like everything, and we’re, you know, the helpers. And in my mom was, you know, how I’m teaching is hereditary. My mom was a teacher as well. So it was just that they were always there. But, and I’m thinking to, like, we will host some of the cool things. We have hosts like Book, book character days, and you know, you’d have you know, a few parents show up, but it was always the same way. You know, like, it’s always the same parents, they show up. But they would be there no matter what. So yeah, book character days, were always a really fun one to host to sort of launch. If you’re having a book here that week, that was always a really good one. We had one of the coolest community events we had was actually with you last year in your influence, because we had UTP come through our school. And it was right on the brink of COVID. And which I think I’ve spoken about this before we had a production all lined up, ready to go. And then COVID hit and all the kids were all given their part. So it was really devastating for the kids. And then Mr. Mark Herring, Mr. I himself, I wI and South came and he goes, how about you turn it into, like a movie or a cinema type screening. So we ended up flipping it completely. Having the kids film the whole entire Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, it was an absolute epic event. And then once we started allowing, having people deck on school grounds, we hosted this like red carpet Avita. And it was amazing. The kids were buzzing, it was so awesome. So yeah, just coming out with those outside the box type community events, may may get people more people involved. Another another opportunity would be encouraged parent involvement. So offer opportunities for parents to feel part of school life. So encourage parents to volunteer the classroom come along on field trips and participate in school activities like athletics, or sports events. And this not only helps build a sense of community, but it also shows students that their families care about the education. So I think that’s a really important point. I know that I also know as a very busy working mom that I don’t get to everything I try to I know that my son’s got athletics next week, and I’m away, again, for work. And so about that, I know that I’ll check in with him. But you know, being able to get to just one is really cool. You know, just seeing your kid in action and showing them that you really care about the fiscal life. But I also think that some schools don’t also offer that opportunity. So there’s in the end, that really, that’s when you start seeing the Facebook posts, you know, so the school assemblies are really a really good one too. I know that there’s a couple of schools out here that don’t invite the community to the school assemblies. bone of contention on most Facebook groups you know, there’s some schools that’s vital the phone O N and parents is always set to the back for the parents and there’s the principal ways makes a really a really big effort to involve them and get them to come in and then there’s some schools that are like no closed or not having you in the assembly, what’s a weaver in that and that’s when their competence or that’s when it just starts cracking a little bit because they don’t feel like they’re invited and they’re not, you know, not there and watch the kid get this to forget them. Yeah, as soon as we started opening up for parents coming in for assemblies, it was just a game changer. They just absolutely loved it. And that’s when that whole home, do you know that the school does this, this and this and that, because they’ve been there. They’ve seen the assembly they’ve seen, you know, celebrating their success. And that’s that’s it, word of mouth stuff that goes out into the community.

Mark Herring: 25:18

Yeah. Do you think those schools that don’t allow or have a have a guideline where parents aren’t invited to some of them have Facebook streaming live so that you can jump on our Instagram Live? Is that something that you’ve seen them? Do? The ones

Bex Rose: 25:31

that have said no, not on school site don’t tend to be the ones that stream it either. I think, for us, we would stream it and have parents so I’d have parents watching from their offices while they were working. The the assembly as well as having kids on site, I guess it’s yeah, it’s down to the values and in what their vision is, and the why behind it. And it is just to celebrate student success with the kids in it’s one of those. But yeah, I think involving parents and school life is just a really important thing. It’s the same with having parents in the classroom, you know, my students up here and help us Yeah. And of course, you do get the one sometimes that I’ve also seen this where they go, do you know, Billy didn’t finish his work, because I wasn’t there being a parent helper, blah, blah, blah. But you soon weed those ones out. There’s generally just really want to help and be part of the kids school life. So of those opportunities. Another opportunity would be partnering with community organizations. So partnering with local community organizations, such as libraries, or museums, or nonprofits to create learning opportunities outside of the classroom. So one thing that we did was that we would bring our choir oh my gosh, I would always burst into tears, and take them to rest homes and things.

Mark Herring: 26:49

I’ve been involved with schools that have done that, you know, there was one school I knew in Palmerston North that had a rest home right next door. And so they would have a regular schedule with students that would go next door to read and buddy up with with some of the some of the reasons,

Bex Rose: 27:03

it’s an invaluable resource. These people have got all the time to listen to kids, you know, like really like, oh, yeah, hurry up, finish talking, because we’ve got all this stuff to do. But these, these people know what life is all about. They’ve loved it. And now they just want to spend that time. And I remember going bring your kids to the restaurant, and my Nana had just passed away. And so I went and took these kids, and they would they sang beautifully. And all the all the grandees were just absolutely loving it. I’m sitting in the back and bawling my eyes out. But it was, but it was such a nice thing to do, and having a cadence of those kinds of opportunities to go and visit communities. The other one eye we also did was, whenever we had some sort of property projects that were going on, like we there was money that came from the government after COVID. And we could do it yeah, like a little. You could do projects with that money. And we always tender it out to local family businesses, so that we had, you know, builders, or electricians and things like that. And we really supported those businesses that were local, rather than the big, big businesses try and support them as much as we possibly could, just to show that we appreciate them, and we appreciate our community. So you’re getting them on site and doing a lot of the work for us. Another one would be celebrating diversity. So celebrate the diverse backgrounds and cultures of the students and families in your school community through cultural events, getting guest speakers in and, and curriculum that reflects the diversity of the community. So really acknowledging that, that the community that your school holds, and we loved hosting the cultural festival with food and dancing, it was always such a highlight on our calendar, we taste all the different food and the families would absolutely love it, you know, like our Indian families would love cooking or the Indian would just love lapping it up and sushi and all the things so that was always a really well attended community event. And then Grandparents Day that was always a really favorite, we are very relative to that, why they would come in the inch rows they would start with it would start at like 130 or they’d start packing up at about 1130 And then they’d make their way over and they could see the kids in action at lunchtime and then we’d have our student leaders out there, you know, ushering them all in, oh, gosh, now that absolutely loved the afternoon tea that they could have at the end with the kids. And it was always such a highlight. And I’m we always get such beautiful feedback from from grandparents that would come from far away. In fact, we always made sure that date was out from the beginning of the year. So that if the parents or grandparents were, you know, from all over New Zealand, or even sometimes overseas, to be honest, they would they would put their dates around that so they could attend it. And then we had we actually had a couple there was an American student and so her her grandmother couldn’t attend. So I would just have a little I just gave her the mum would come and I gave her a laptop and she could, you know, film it with it and we’d stream it and things like that. So yeah, so having those those diverse you Celebrating the diversity of your school, encouraging feedback is always a scary thing. But always a really important thing to do. So encourage feedback from parents and community members to continuously improve the communication or events or initiatives that are going on in the school. And this can be done through surveys that we’ve got a bunch of surveys that we can help you with from UTV to survey your community through Google Forms, or Microsoft forms, suggestion boxes or just open for us or a Hawaii. In fact, my husband is attending a moldy family Hawaii this evening to to get his feedback on what’s going on in the school. So I thought that was really cool that he’s been invited to that. So just making sure that they feel like their voice is heard. And, yes, I’ve also had forms that have come back and send surveys that absolutely broke me into smithereens because you think that you’ve got these awesome things going on. And it just gets slandered. And sometimes that happens, and to be fair, it’s only like 1% of the school population that just have a have a bugbear with your or bugbear with whatever’s going on. But the 99% of it really love it. But it’s also the feedback that you get you haven’t even thought of it that way. You know, that’s a really cool way of thinking. So getting that feedback from the community is really important just because it’s that key stakeholder buy in as soon as they feel like they’ve had the voice that they’ve been heard. And that even some change may occur from that. That’s a really nice way to engage your community.

Mark Herring: 31:26

Like I think what you’re saying is true, too, when, you know, sometimes you can be a little bit nervous, especially in the leadership space to open up the opportunity for feedback, because you never know what’s going to come back. But I think if you’ve got a mindset, you know, that better mindset of, you know, how can we make this better? How can we improve what we’re doing? I’d much rather as a leader know what’s out there? And what kind of feelings people have towards things and what conversations people are having them not know, you know, that there’s nothing worse than trucking along thinking you’re doing a great job. And then there are those carpark conversations as

Bex Rose: 31:56

I was just gonna say, ideas. Yeah, absolutely. That then eliminates, hopefully eliminates those car park conversations because they feel like they’ve got to, they’ve got a channel where they can voice those opinions rather than just escalating and snowballing and the car park with all the with all the parents. So I think that’s a really, really important one. It is scary, I understand that. But it’s absolutely crucial. And then ways to incorporate authentic learning projects into schools really can bring community development as well. So you can identify community needs. So you can, these are problems that students can address through their project. So this could be an environmental or sustainability. This is a really a cool way that we incorporate enviroschools into our school. So it identifies areas where students can make a difference. And then yeah, and then this leads on to involving community members, so involving community members in the design and implementation of the project. So this could be inviting community members to serve as members or advisors or guest speakers and providing students for providing opportunities for students to present their projects to the community. So here’s his problem. And we’ve come up with a way to a solution for this through our learning and class, like how cool is that, you know, just making it really authentic and relevant to what’s going on in their own community. And you can align these projects with the curriculum. So align the projects with the curriculum to ensure that students are developing the knowledge and skills they need to be successful. And so it could involve designing projects that align with specific standards or learning objectives, and providing opportunities for students to explore topics that are meaningful and relevant to them in greater depth. So we had on the podcast in episode eight, we had miles weed from odour skull, and it was all about the trapping the possums arena. And that’s an absolutely fantastic way to get that community by in that community involvement. It was really relevant to the kids because on their farms, they had all these possums that were, you know, wrecking the wrecking their properties. So that’s, that’s a really, you know, authentic, relevant, engaging curriculum isn’t there that’s involving the community. So it does all those things for us. So yeah, so by implementing these strategies, schools can build a stronger sense of community engagement and create a supportive and inclusive learning environment for students to learn and grow and have that really beautiful sense of community engagement. And how Wait, no stop fit was going nowhere.

Mark Herring: 34:27

Yeah, that’s right. One of the one of the thoughts I’ve had, you know, when you’re a leader organizing these community events, sometimes the community events can be an ongoing, you know, becomes an annual thing that you do. And one of the disconnects that I’ve observed in the schools that I’ve been involved in, not only, you know, as a consultant now, when we’re working with schools, but also something I observed when I was in school and embedded in the school as a leader, and as a teacher, sometimes, you need to make sure that the team at your school so your teachers, your support staff, even your caretaker understand the why behind the community event because it’s so easy with the season that we’re in where teachers are overloaded, sometimes to ask them, Hey, we’re going to have a cultural festival on this date, and we’re going to, you know, get you to come along. And they’re thinking, well, that’s like a Friday night, I’m absolutely exhausted. No, I’ve got a whole day of teaching. Now you’re asking me to do something external. And I’ve got support on Friday as well. I think as a leader, if you can, make sure that you’re reinforcing the why behind why you’re doing it, get everybody bought in, build that motivation, have people talking about it at a staff meeting, and give them some practical tips for how they can not only take the why into that event, but things to do to connect with the community, and the way that you can give them those practical sort of social skills really, as a teacher that sometimes we think we assume that our teachers know, that can be the glue for that event that really make it successful. So it’s not just about making sure that you’ve got everything coordinated, and people doing the right thing. But who are the key people on your team who are just extroverts who have got a lot of energy, really empower and enable them to go out there and start talking to families that they don’t know. And, you know, introducing themselves to people having a conversation, connecting families together, you know, something as simple as that. Being one of those teachers who can say, hey, there’s a new family over there, there’s a new family over there, I’m gonna say, Brian, come over here and have a chat for Sam, because I know that you guys are both builders. And so you know, you say to Sam, you know, Brian is a new builder in the area, they’ve just moved in, you know, and then you start the conversation, and then you just sort of do Homer Simpson into the heads and you back away. Like, it sounds so silly, like we go to teachers college to learn how to teach. But the role of a teacher now is so complex and so involved, but it’s not so much that we want to force it on people, it’s that we have an opportunity to do that. So if you’re listening to this, and you’re thinking as a leader, yeah, we do a lot of these activities, how can I get it’s not that I need to do more, but let’s do less, but do it better. So who are the people on my team who can help be the glue for those for those activities, and not just run an event, but do it really well in a way that Bond’s and gels everybody together? And think think, you know, you may not be the right person to be able to, to do that. But it’s just about teaching and empowering and upskilling your team to be thinking a little bit beyond the classroom. So not just knowing the why but having the skills to be able to do it really well. Does that make sense?

Bex Rose: 37:21

Absolutely. Great chat.

Mark Herring: 37:25

Alright, Episode 10 wraps up next.

Bex Rose: 37:28

All right. So community engagement can be something that may feel hard work, but it’s absolutely worth the time and effort. So when people feel like they’ve got a voice or a place in the community, it’ll foster their sense of belonging and ownership. I also think Mike’s comments about really finding the opportunities to utilize your staff geniuses or skill sets to enhance the relationships between family and school life is a great way to also involve the staff, which will also enhance that sense of belonging for them too. And that’s that culture building stuff. So it’s a three prong approach. They’re also overwhelmed as a widely spoken about feeling right now. So please be able to being able to find strategies and ways to combat this is imperative. So talking about it is the first step, but finding ways to deal with it is the next one that we have to take. So having tools to support your well being that can keep you accountable to your goals and actions will automatically make you feel better as you’re making tracks or being better. So I’m totally gonna go and download notes and straight after we finish up here.

Mark Herring: 38:31

Cool. And so if you know somebody who’s dealing with that overwhelm, or could really get benefit from just being a little bit more organized, absolutely let them know about this episode, share it with them, hit the share button, text it to them, or email it to them, or if you know your team, if you think your staff and your team would get value from this, definitely share that with them at school. If you’re after some of the links to the resources like notion or anything else that we’ve mentioned today, have a look on the show notes and make sure that you’re subscribed because these episodes land every Wednesday, or as much as we did. Lastly, if you’ve got any questions or anything to share with us, email us at team at Using Technology Better, we’d love to hear from you. We’d love to work with you. Let us know if there’s anything we can do to support you for your digital learning needs in your school. And we’ll see you next week.

 

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