By TOM THORPE
CA Connects is an approach the CA administrators discussed during a Strategy Lab session. Head of School Mike Davis asked CA administrators to think of ways to support a culture “reset” following the pandemic. CA Connect is intended to bring a new communications vehicle to CA families by encouraging conversation and engagement from their very first days on campus until their last. The approach will involve active listening by faculty. It’s intended to build a greater sense of belonging and send the demonstration that CA does something different in connecting with students and families and is commitment to building a stronger sense of belonging.
To launch the post pandemic school years with a unifying culture reset
To engage families and students
To set the expectation that CA Connects conversations will continue as long as a student attends CA.
After one week of school, we will take a pause to meet with the parents. In grade K-5 meeting will happen with families and homeroom teacher, and then in grades 6-12 families will meet with the advisory. Students will join for meetings in grade 9-12. Rapport will be established, and teachers can have better context for what the families are sharing. Students will be brought on campus and go through some play and trust building activities while the 20 minute meetings occur, and we will have Zoom capabilities for folks who need to participate remotely.
This is an 80/20 conversation – 80% families, 20% teachers and advisors. CA Connects will be an opportunity to live out our mission by inviting families to the “table” as partners to help each child.
We see this is an opportunity for norm setting so the families will know how to support the student and have a stronger connection to the school. Along with effective teachers, we know that strong school-family partnerships impact student outcomes significantly. Furthermore, this is our SEL approach in action. Teachers will model active listening and our values will be made clear. When it all comes together, the academics can happen alongside the SEL, DEI, and culture work more harmoniously.
Notes will be taken by the teacher/advisor and made part of a student’s permanent record. It will follow the student for as long they are part of the community.
This efforts has two desired effects: 1) to serve as a cultural reset after months of remote learning, quarantines, etc. And, 2) this will put trust at the center of the relationship between school and home for the children. In so many cases, the families have been filling the role as a teacher since March 2020, and we need to know what they have seen, what they are concerned about, and what we need to know to meet the student’s needs as we return to full, in-person learning.
Adopt & Adapt
Schools need only to set aside time for parents to come on campus or meet with teachers/advisors via Zoom. With a simple Google Form shared beforehand, parents and guardians can think about responses, prepare translations, etc., to make the information download clear and easy to understand.