How to Reach out to Students AND Everyone Else too!

At Pennington Elementary in Wheat Ridge, CO, Principal Sandy Craig and TIME Collaborative planning team members have kept their planning process transparent and solicited feedback from all stakeholders from the day the school was selected for the TIME Collaborative. Principal Craig stated that she and TIME Collaborative planning team members knew that their TIME Collaborative work would only be successful if intentional communication with all staff members, families, and the community became a part of their planning process. Within a day of selection, the school shared details about the opportunity with all staff members and with families and invited all stakeholders to an informational meeting. 

Teachers, paraprofessionals, parents, Grade 3-6 students, and community members were invited to contribute to a thinking maps brainstorming session entitled,  “The Best Day You Can Imagine at School.” Students in the fifth and sixth grades also wrote blog entries and essays about how they would redesign the school day. In January, all feedback was compiled into a single document and shared with stakeholders. Every person who raised a concern or idea was able to see it on the document and recognize that their voice had been heard. 
The input provided by stakeholders provided new ideas for the planning team and allowed Principal Craig to be sure that no one would be surprised by any iteration created. Following the generation of the list of ideas and feedback, each stakeholder was asked to highlight suggestions as a Red Light/Yellow Light/Green Light issue. The Red (rejected) and Yellow (unsure) concerns were then tracked, and this data was used to develop Pennington’s first iteration. 
Throughout this process, Principal Craig and the school planning team members encouraged parents to be vocal about the TIME Collaborative in their community in order to dispel myths and rumors about the added time. In addition, very early in the process the TIME collaborative team members “had the hard conversation with both community and staff: The bottom line is that extended learning time is what’s best for our kids—it may or may not be what’s best for you, you will need to decide.” 
The school’s planning has been received positively as a result of Pennington’s transparency. Staff voted unanimously in favor of moving forward with the TIME Collaborative planning process. Parents and community members have had positive energy about the TIME Collaborative, and they are familiar with the opportunities provided to students and the community with expanded learning time. Craig says that, more than any other grant or initiative undertaken by Pennington, “[stakeholders] feel as though they are a part of it…everybody does.”