If we truly want to change public education, we must change the public conversation about it. When people hear a clear and effective message, deepen their knowledge through ongoing dialogue, and feel they are a trusted voice in their community they come to view themselves as participants in a meaningful process.
This toolkit is designed to provide you with the strategies and resources to build public will and ensure a broad group of stakeholders engage in the change process. The toolkit draws extensively from the FrameWorks Institute’s approach to communication, including research on productive ways to help people think differently about problems facing our public education systems, and ways to address these challenges.
The three sections of the kit introduce three essential elements of effective public understanding and engagement for student-centered learning: telling a compelling public story, promoting dialogue, and engaging young people.
This toolkit was funded by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation in 2014 as part of its work to support student-centered approaches to learning in New England. Jane Feinberg, Helen Beattie and Daniel Baron are its main authors.
Who should use this toolkit?
This toolkit is meant to serve anyone who recognizes the need to remodel our public education to reflect the changing times. It is for people who value student-centered approaches to learning, based in solid science and best practice.
Whether you are an administrator, teacher, community leader, school board member, student, or interested parent at a school that is endeavoring to become more student-centered – we know that you have a lot on your plate. We have tried to make this kit as user-friendly as possible.
How can you use the toolkit?
For School Redesign Leaders:
This kit will be most immediately useful for those leading a school redesign effort: school, district, student, and community leaders and facilitators. If you can dedicate a few hours, read the kit in its entirety to be introduced to a powerful approach to communications work that goes beyond “selling” a message.
Throughout, you will find tons of examples, resources and guides, activities, and best practice tips to spark ideas and save you from creating everything from scratch.These tools can be accessed quickly even if you don’t have time to read the whole kit. Look for sample press releases and brochures in the Public Story section, conversation protocols in the Deep Dialogue section, and resources to support youth as researchers in the Youth Engagement section.
Teachers involved in a school or district-wide redesign effort will certainly find relevant and useful content here. In particular, you may be interested in the suggestions in the Deep Dialogue section on making conversations around education more productive.
Teachers may like to read the suggestions and check out the resources on the Reframing the Public Story page to more effectively communicate with the wider public. The Youth Engagement section includes links to a number of tools and articles any teacher can use to increase student voice in their classrooms.
For Parents, Students, or Community Members:
Anyone interested in student-centered approaches to learning may find the Public Story Section insightful. In particular, the Reframing the Public Story page explores the ways in which the public views education. The resources here may spark ideas to reframe the story and refine the language you use to communicate with peers and the wider community about school reform. In this way anyone can contribute to the public conversation and become an agent of change.
How is the Toolkit Organized?
The kit is divided into three sections that correspond with three key elements of effective communication around student-centered learning. You can navigate between sections using the buttons running across the top of the page. Note you do not need to view the sections in a particular order.
- The Public Story section is full of practical communications resources, such tips on writing a communications plan and working with the media and sample press releases, op-eds, and brochures.
- The Deep Dialogue section includes many tools to help facilitators design activities for their own meetings, including text-based protocols and both videos and quotations to spark more productive dialogue.
- The Youth Engagement section features methods and supporting tools for building student voice and youth-adult partnerships, as well as tips and resources to empower youth to become action researchers.
Each section begins with an overview of what you will find inside. You can navigate between pages using the pull down table of contents under each section tab or move forward or back using the arrows at the top and bottom of each page.
Throughout the pages you will find lists of links to tons of examples, guides and toolkits, websites, and other resources. You can also follow embedded text links to articles or definitions of related topics or to learn more about organizations mentioned. In addition, each of the three sections includes an additional resource page, which you can link to from a button in the left hand navigation column and view by resource type.
To get started click on one of the section headers at the top of the page!
For more information about the toolkit, its origins, or the resources contained here, please contact Shaun Adamec, Director of Strategic Communications for The Nellie Mae Education Foundation, who coordinated its creation.