Welcoming Atmosphere Walk Through

Welcoming Walk Through Tool Kit

General Information

Approximate time from start to finish: 1 1/2 hours - 2 hours

What is the Welcoming Atmosphere Walk-Through?

  • The action team will coordinate a tour of your school.
  • The team will look at the elements of the school that let parents and community members know they are welcomed partners in the school
  • Based on their observations, the team will complete a Welcoming Atmosphere Commendation/Recommendation Form highlighting the welcoming aspects of your school.

What is the purpose of the Welcoming Atmosphere Walk-Through?

  • Each school has different goals it hopes to achieve as a result of this walk-through. Purposes could include the following: examining how inviting the school appears to its diverse community, looking at strategies that can be employed to make the school more inviting to the families and community, and trying to increase parent involvement.

What are the components of the Welcoming Atmosphere Walk-Through?

  • The Physical Environment: parking areas, classrooms, lobby, hallways, etc.
  • School-wide Practices & Policies: interview with principal/administrative staff.
  • Welcoming School Staff: observations in the main office, hallways, and places open to the public; listen and look for inviting friendly tones.
  • Written Materials: newsletters, parent handbook, flyers, and other materials distributed by the school. Web sites and telephone message lines are also included, if applicable.

Who will do the Welcoming Atmosphere Walk-Through?

  • Use the services of a facilitator to assist in the coordination of the team
  • To complement the action team, you may want to consider a custodian, a secretary, a bus driver, a cafeteria worker, a neighbor, a community leader, an English as a second language parent, and/or others who represent the various cultures in your school community. Twelve people is the suggested size of the walk-through team: four staff members, eight parents, if possible.

WELCOMING ATMOSPHERE WALK-THROUGH PROCEDURES

Facilitator and Action Team will do the following:

1. Plan and schedule the walk-through with a school contact person.

2. Prepare walk-through packets for each team member.

3. Select the participants for the walk-through.

4. Send the names to the principal/headmaster.

5. Divide the participants into component teams.

6. Facilitate the briefing, walk-through, and debriefing.

7. Write a summary of the team's observations, commendations, and recommendations.

8. Send the walk-through summary to the school headmaster.

9. Follow-up with the school to discuss next steps. (Part of the action team training model.)

School is asked to do the following before the Walk-Through:

1. Provide a meeting room large enough for your team members.

2. Provide a space for each of the four component teams to meet and talk separately. This could be the same room as #1 with teams moving to separate corners.

3. Provide the name of the administrator who will be interviewed.

4. Provide a map of the school.

5. Collect samples of all written material sent to parents/families from your school, i.e., a parent/student handbook, two recent newsletters, a student directly, a packet of materials for new students and families.

6. Provide all telephone numbers, including message lines, through which families and community members can contact the school. A team member will call those numbers before the actual walk-through.

7. Provide any information needed to access your web site, if available.

8. In order to expedite the walk-through process, please send the information listed above to the action team contact person at least one week prior to your walk-through.

WELCOMING ATMOSPHERE WALK-THROUGH

Guidelines

for day of Walk Through

Thank you for being apart of your school's Welcoming Atmosphere Walk-Through Team. Your input will be helpful in making future visitors to the building feel a welcomed part of the school. As you participate in the walk-through today, please think about the things that way "Welcome!" to you when you enter a school.

Try to assume a role as a visitor new to the school. Look at your school from any or all of the following perspectives:

  • You are a parent of a child who will go to kindergarten next fall.
  • You are thinking about moving into the area.
  • You are a first-time volunteer.
  • You just moved here from another state.
  • You just moved from another area within this state.
  • You know a little English.
  • You are a father.
  • You just moved to the USA.
  • You have difficulty walking.
  • You have difficulty seeing.
  • You are a neighbor of the school.

During today's walk-through, you will become a member of one of four Welcoming Atmosphere Component Teams. These teams will examine the following elements:

  • The Physical Environment
  • School-wide Practices and Policies
  • Public Relations/Welcoming School Staff
  • Written Materials & Web Site

In order to remember your thoughts during the walk-through process, please put your name at the top of your individual Welcoming Atmosphere Walk-Through Commendations and Recommendations Form and make notes about the following:

  • What is your school doing well?
  • What could your school do to make the school more welcoming for parents and visitors?

At the conclusion of the walk-through time period, each Component Team will discuss its observations and complete the Commendation and Recommendation Form that has been provided for the team.

The entire team will then gather to share each Component Team's findings.

When all Component Teams have shared their observations, the reports will be collect by the facilitator for compilation.The facilitator will send a summary report of the observations to the action team (if this is part of an action research project) and to the school administration within one week of the observation.