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Assets in Action

School communities are rich with often untapped assets, strengths, capacity and resources found within families, local associations, businesses and other institutions such as libraries and places of worship. There is great potential for schools to connect, build relationships and draw on resources that make the job of teachers easier, create enhanced learning opportunities, and actively engage families and the greater community in education.  Café’s Asset-Based Leadership in Education (ABLE) initiative is designed to support pre-service and current teachers, parent leaders and school administrators with background, tools and strategies to support an asset-building approach to education.

Schools may face challenges or issues that could benefit from a collective, concerted response from the  extended school community. When people care deeply about an issue they can become very motivated to get involved. Bringing the extended school community together in conversation can be a first step in highlighting possibilities, exploring available assets and taking action. Perhaps a school community is motivated to increase outcomes by maximizing what the community has to offer to provide enriched learning. ABLE introduces schools (either virtually or through an in-person orientation workshop) to resources that may be helpful in hosting conversation café’s, mapping assets, and action planning, all key elements for building community engagement. More on this… Overview of the ABLE approach (pdf) (coming soon!)

Community building in schools

There are countless examples of schools that have been innovative in mobilizing assets of the broader community and we hope to highlight many of these success stories.  What works in one school community may not be relevant in another, but learning from the efforts of others can spark ideas and inspiration. For those schools working to be more purposeful about building community connections, the following elements and strategies for community development strategies may be relevant and helpful to get started:

Attention to community processes can highlight endless possibilities in the making… One example of an ABLE initiative in action can be seen in Café’s work in partnership with Calgary Reads to develop The Literacy Action Team (LAT) Approach, a process designed to help extended school communities self-organize around the school-wide goal of improved literacy.  Calgary Read’s Literacy-in-a-box initiative,  provides easy-to-follow guides and resources for hosting family literacy events. To build capacity in literacy support, the LAT module offers steps and tools for forming a multi-stakeholder “Literacy Action Team.”  Cafe/Calgary Reads provides resources and/or orientation to support the organizing, connecting and mobilizing of this team and their community assets to move the needle on literacy levels. Please contact Calgary Reads or Café for further information.

Parents as partners

Engaged parents can be a critical piece to the success of a school community. However, it can be a challenge to ensure parents are involved in ways that are meaningful, rewarding for them and making a difference for the school community. At times this requires a shift from a more traditional ‘volunteer management’ approach with parents to a capacity-building, partnership approach.  More on engaging parents

Café for the classroom

Children also have a multitude of gifts and talents to contribute to the school and extended community. Recognizing these strengths makes it easier for students to see their place and potential contributions to the greater community. Activities that emphasize the importance of connecting at the community level and building supportive relationships reinforces curriculum learning areas related to citizenship and community.  Café share stories, activities and resources that highlight the importance of community in a child’s life.       More on Café for the classroom…


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