In my EDL 610 course, which is Visionary Leadership, we are working on building and assessing school culture. This is meant to be a reflection on the idea of a welcoming school culture and include responses to a series of guided prompts. Those prompts are:
1. How is the challenge of making stakeholders feel welcome to your school (or place of work) connected to your school mission?
2. What did you do to assess which stakeholder group (or subgroup) could be more effectively welcomed? And what did you find?
3. Future Sphere of Influence: What would you do to improve welcoming this group if you were the school leader?
4. Current Sphere of Influence: What can you do in your present position to enhance welcoming these stakeholders?
Current Sphere of Influence: Commit to 5 things you are willing to do this semester that will make your school a more welcoming place.
The mission of AAS is to "inspire and develop innovative, creative, self-directed learners, one scholar at a time." This mission is indeed connected to the notion of making stakeholders feel welcome at our school. In order to build a relationship, at least a positive one which inspires and develops scholars, our staff need to be welcoming to nurture and grow the personal relationships and bonds between them and our scholars. And this is done based on the ending piece of our mission, one scholar at a time. It's personal, it's intentional. And it can only happen and be successful when staff are welcoming to not only the scholar, but the learning coach, family and their peers.
I actually read "How to Create a Culture of Achievement In Your Schools and Classrooms" during my trip to San Antonio for the iNACOL Conference. I was inspired by the chapters, and especially the chapter on creating a welcoming environment. I have spoken with my Senior Leadership Team on this piece. and am looking to develop and roll-out a customer service training for all of our staff, including our Enrollment Team. They are the front lines with our prospective families, and really help set the tone in creating a welcoming environment at AAS. There are always opportunities for growth and improvement and we will be focusing on this idea over the next several months, for all staff and enhanced training for targeted departments, including marketing & communications and enrollment.
As noted in other posts, I am the school leader, and noted above, am taking steps to help train and develop our staff to provide a welcoming environment. And this environment is not just for prospective scholars and scholars, but our colleagues and community members. This is a big initiative, and one that I announced yesterday during our weekly Senior Management Team meeting with all of our directors.
There are a few commitments I am excited to make. First and foremost, to offer trainings to our staff on customer service. The second is to model the behavior that I expect to see throughout the organization. I will also listen, to staff and others, to better understand their needs to help create a welcoming environment in our virtual system.
The big piece is on modeling the behavior I'd like to see throughout the organization, and provide coaching to those who do not follow or understand the model. As a former major gifts officer, being donor-centric is still in my blood and I am trying to transform that into being scholar-centric. Figuring out and understanding the needs of the scholar, and doing what I can to ensure those needs are met. This will be one of the many positive things which sets our school apart. Time to model!