What role does leadership play in assuring resiliency in the learning environment? This is a question I am going to pose as a backdrop to a series of blogs that I am writing over the next few months around the “Resiliency Wheel” that was adopted from Nan Henderson and Mike Milstein’s book, Resiliency in Schools: Making It Happen, (1996). Some may immediately state that 1996 theory and philosophy doesn’t convey as well in the 21st century, but I beg to differ and will try to demonstrate some sort of Web 2.0/21st century leadership “link” to these very important components in building resiliency.
This post will focus on the topic, “Increasing Bonding or Connectedness“. The goal of this action step is to mitigate risk factors in the environment that may hinder a student’s progress or ability to learn effectively.
Research shows that when students have parental/family involvement and feel “connected” to their learning and/or to someone in the learning process, that they perform better. What is the challenge to educational leaders in regards to helping assure that schools are fostering a culture that increases bonding and connectedness for students? The challenge is how to do this effectively in an age where the family structure is eroding and parental involvement is waning, especially in low socio-economic impacted schools. However, nationally the trend may be more related to the lack of a comprehensive parental involvement initiative in schools.
The answers lie in the ability of educational leaders to build a strong and comprehensive vision for parental/community involvement. As an educational leader, you have the responsibility to each and every child to help equip them to be resilient and successful in their learning experience(s). A non-negotiable goal should be to help increase the bond and/or connection between students/community/parent/pro-social persons or activities. This starts with a belief that people matter, most importantly the student.
Good friend, Angela Maiers is leading the charge in helping students understand that they matter by simply using the phrase “you matter“. So why not integrate this concept into leadership principles and actions? Educational leaders need to internalize this same philosophy across all the stakeholder spectra that they influence and/or interact with on a daily basis. Helping people believe that they matter, and that as leaders, we want them to be connected to the learning process and to people because they matter, is imperative in helping to increase bonding and connectedness. When people know that they matter, they get involved.
So where is the 21st century/Web 2.0 connection? The North Carolina PTA is developing a program for parents online to become “leaders” in parental involvement. The goal of the program is to create a PTA 2.0 concept that will connect busy parents electronically. You can visit the blog at http://parentleadersonline.wordpress.com/. I also invite you to share links, stories, etc. related to effective parental involvement programs that you have seen or implemented with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s start this crucial conversation and help build resilient students, schools & leaders!