Educators can improve effective partnerships with community groups by actively including community members during meetings, and receptively listening to their ideas. Such groups can be faith-based, sports-based, academic-based, environmental-based, etc.   In an attempt to improve effective partnerships with community groups, “parents and community members can offer perspectives to educators that add to their understanding of the students with whom they work. These insights, coupled with educators’ professional insights and knowledge, can help all parties develop a more holistic view of the needs and talents of students” (Sanders, 2005). It has been said that we have two ears and one mouth so that we may listen twice as much as we speak.

 It is astonishing how many community members can benefit when educators consciously expand community groups. Educators should welcome to the group, anyone who has a desire to collaborate and contribute to the task at hand. Regardless of race, sex, nationality, or faith, effective educators interested in improving effective partnerships cast few judgments. In an effort to develop successful partnerships, it is essential that educators treat all people as equals. No one should be ignored. Everyone should be included.   As my father, Dr. Harvey Levy believes, “anyone present can make everyone present win” (H. Levy, personal communication, April 28, 2009). The best suggestions or solutions often come from the least expected source. This opportunity can only present itself if that unlikely source is involved and included.

 Educators should take specific actions to improve effective partnerships with various community groups. 1) Educators should take responsibility for representing the voices that are not heard. This will allow these “naturally quiet” people to truly benefit from the educator acting as their spokesperson. 2) Educators should look for opportunities to bring together people of diverse cultures and backgrounds, and to elicit what all have in common. Additionally, they can help group members understand that, to respect each other’s differences, they each must begin by appreciating what they all share. 3) When shy people join the group, educators should help them get to know other group members. It is important that the educator quickly makes these people feel accepted and involved because “shy people tend to overestimate their likelihood of failure in social interactions and are highly sensitive towards negative reactions. Although they are not usually viewed as negatively as they fear, they are quick to make judgments about themselves. They blame themselves for any negative outcomes and undervalue their part in their successes” (Gallagher, 2004). An educator would increase the effectiveness of a partnership by ensuring that all group members are engaged and feel validated.

 It is a great challenge for educators to develop and improve partnerships with community groups. However, educators who actively include community group members and receptively listen to their ideas will promote the healthy overlap of students’ spheres of influence in ways that are beneficial to the students’ academic, social, and emotional growth.


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