SMWS Communications Overview | Revised September 22, 2010
Communication Value Statement
Shining Mountain Waldorf School is a community where cooperation and collaboration between parents and teachers, out of mutual respect, create a supportive educational environment. Ours is a child centered culture that embraces active parent involvement, openness, economic and social diversity, consensus, and teamwork. Families, teachers, administrators, and staff share the responsibilities and rewards of participating in our school community. Parents play essential roles as advocates for their children and partners in enriching our school community with their ideas, interests, talents, resources, and concerns. We want communication between home and school to be on-going, twoway, and meaningful. Our mutual commitment to realizing this ideal is the foundation of our community life.
Guidelines for Healthy Communication
Address concerns directly with those involved in a timely way. Avoid gossip. When encountering gossip, encourage participants to pursue positive communication for resolution of concern. Be mindful when speaking about/for people who aren’t present.
Ask for Time and Space.
Set up the time and space needed for thoughtful dialogue. Avoid discussing sensitive topics in public, in front of students, or by email.
“Say what you mean, but don’t be mean.” Make time for all parties to speak.
Seek mutuality. Listen with an open mind. Check out assumptions.
Parents’ Communication with Teacher/School
1) Keep Informed. We ask that parents do their best to stay informed by reading Community Notes, attending parent evenings and conferences, and reading school letters and e-mail promptly.
2) Schedule a Meeting and/or Phone Conversation with a Teacher. If you have a question or concern, contact the receptionist at the Lower School or High School offices to schedule a meeting or phone conversation with a teacher. Teachers will make every effort to return your call within 24 hours.
3) Discuss Issues of Common Class Concern at Parent Evenings. Opportunity for sharing and conversation is routinely provided in relation to curricular and child development issues that are under discussion. Contact the class teacher ahead of time if you have a specific request to have an item on the agenda.
4) Written Feedback is gathered from the Anonymous Parent Survey and exit iinterviews, parent surveys (conducted as part of the peer review process), periodic focus groups, and Town Meetings. Your thoughts and suggestions to improve these instruments are welcome.
5) Note About Confidentiality. School leaders welcome your comments and concerns. Effective problem-solving or conflict resolution is best achieved by means of open and frank dialogue among the parties directly involved. We always want to hear from you, even in situations where direct engagement is challenging. We invite you to speak to the Ombudsperson in instances where confidentiality is a concern. The Ombudsperson will engage you in the process described below. The school does not accept unsigned letters.
Where do I go when I need to speak with ‘the school’ about an issue?
Where do I go if I am not sure how to have my question/concern addressed?
Where do I go if I feel my concern has not been addressed to my satisfaction?
Go to the Ombudsperson:
Mary Beth Fifer | 2012-13 Ombudsperson
firstname.lastname@example.org | 720-352-0050
Office Hours | Mondays 8:45-10:15
The Ombudsperson will:
- Schedule a time to listen to your question or concern. Ask about how you have worked to resolve it thus far.
- Take minutes of the conversation and review them with you.
- Advise as to where you might take your question/concern or help set up a meeting.
- Follow-up on the process until resolution, ensuring that it occurs in a timely way.
If the Ombudsperson cannot address your question/concern, s/he, using
discernment and judgment in the best interest of all involved, may support you
to take one or more of the following steps:
- Speak directly with the teacher or individual involved.
- Consult with School Leadership. The Ombudsperson will support youto speak to the appropriate school leader or leadership body: School Director, High School Administrator, Governance Council,Lower/Middle/High School Chairs, Board of Trustees, or the Parent Association.
- Write a Letter. The Ombudsperson will inform you of the appropriate body in which to address your letter.
- Attend an Open Forum at the start of the meeting of the Board of Trustees.
- Become more actively involved in the life of the school through a committee, festival or event.
- Create a circle of friends who can support you.
- Initiate a Common Concern Process* to reach resolution regarding issues that include relational matters.
*A COMMON CONCERN PROCESS may include the following, as needed:
Meeting with the Ombudsperson to assess concern. Ombudsperson will also meet with the others involved in the relational difficulty to assess their concern of the issue.
Adult “helpers” will be assigned to individuals as active listeners and support. A facilitated meeting with a facilitator, helpers for all involved, and a minute taker. An action plan with agreements and dates for follow-up will be established during the meeting.
Ombudsperson follows-up on above and assesses the need for further meetings.
Feedback and/or request for additional support for the Common Concern Process can be directed to any member of the Social Health Group. Membership list is maintained in the Lower School office.