This article contains:
- Steps for building relationships with schools
- Resources to share with educators
- Sample questions for getting to know a school
- How AFS students add value to schools
- How to convince a school that AFS will bring value
Steps for building relationships with schools
When building relationships with your local schools, follow these 5 steps:
- Establish a Presence: Identify and meet with key decision makers within schools, request permission to have an AFS representative give a presentation to a class, an after-school club, the school board, etc.
- Prepare: Know your audience, provide hand-outs, and have a presentation prepared. Some sample presentations can be found on the Field Hub.
- Visit: Be on time for appointments, be professional, and be genuine and friendly. Record all names and contact information, make sure to ask questions, and listen carefully (listen more than you talk!). Refer to some sample questions found at the end of this article.
- Present: Provide an integrated view of AFS by including information on Hosting, Sending, Volunteering, and Educator Resources. Never promise something you cant' deliver.
- Follow-up: Send Thank You notes to the school principal, and all other parties involved in your presentation. Contact attendees as soon as possible after the presentation with important links and materials. Create a cheat sheet to capture nuggets for future conversations – builds the relationship and shows you care about more than just making a placement.
Note that random acts of kindness pay off big (donuts, popcorn, tea/coffee, fruit basket, card). And be sure to collect feedback from your school contacts (principals/counselors) annually. They will appreciate that you care about their input and experiences.
Resources to share with educators
The AFS-USA Website contains a variety of tools for educators that we encourage you to share with the school leaders with whom you liaise. By using these resources, you will find ways to support the U.S. Department of Education's International Strategy, "Succeeding Globally Through International Education and Engagement" and AFS.
You can also share 10 Easy Questions Schools Should Ask, which is a document put together by the Idaho Department of Education as a guide for schools when selecting exchange programs with which to work.
Another great resource here, highlights the difference between foreign students on F1 visas and exchange students on J1 visas (like our AFSers).
Sample questions for getting to know a school
- Do you know our AFS student who is here this year?
- How many exchange students are accepted each year?
- Do you accept from a variety of programs or only AFS?
- What is the process for acceptance?
- How have things gone in the past? Encourage them to share successes, achievements, and challenges.
- Does the school accept F1 students?
- Who makes the final decision on accepting a student?
- Have students gone abroad from this school?
- Have students won scholarships to go abroad?
- Do teachers actively sponsor trips abroad with students? Where?
- Are any teachers AFS/exchange returnees?
- Where is your school in incorporating the Common Core Standards into the curriculum? On P21 skills? How can AFS partner with the school in its work?
Be sure that you take the information you learn about the school and update Global Link so others will have access to the same information. Visit the School Information in Global Link section to learn more about updating school information.
How AFS students add value to schools
AFS Students add value to schools by:
- Creating global citizens.
- Providing the entire academic community with free education.
- Sharing their enthusiasm.
- Exposing their classmates to diversity that challenges U.S. students.
- Giving presentations within the school district to all students (k-12) to broaden the American kids’ horizons.
- Helping American students learn that there is more to their world.
- Contributing diverse ideas to class discussion.
- Showing their appreciation for schools (and volunteers) by sending thank you notes.
- Adding to curriculum by broadening awareness of geography and cultural diversity.
- Introducing multiculturalism.
- Indicating importance of world awareness and cultural understanding for life skills, employment for the future “small world,” college admission.
- Making a great topic for essay questions on scholarship applications after American students have hosted an AFS student or been an AFS student.
- Teaching local students much more about the world and its cultures.
- Stimulating interest in other students re: learning foreign languages, studying abroad, etc.
How to convince a school that AFS will bring value
How can we convince schools that AFS is a valuable resource for them?
- Respond to California state standard 10.ll re globalization by having AFS students do guided (by AFS volunteer, to make sure they meet the demands of the standard) presentations to world history classes.
- Work with local colleges on their outreach to the schools. They want broader experiences in their students.
- Ask volunteers to create a list of problems they have had with school administrators and how they have solved them. Post it.
- Ask returnees to give presentations about their experiences or to become teaching assistants in language classes.
- Show them that we’re the best organization by:
- Offering diversity
- Providing complete and timely information
- Consistently providing good support to students, families, and schools.
- AFS clubs or boards at schools
- AFS presentations to school board meetings
- Opportunities for AFS students to go to “career day” or open house
- Consistency of AFS programs in community and schools
- Guarantee that we DO support our students and families
- Local volunteers
- Bringing the world to school for free!
- Network with other educators who already know the value of intercultural exchange.
- Ask schools what resources they need from us to allow us to help them.
- Submit AFS items for the school newsletter.
- Ask school marketing class to make an AFS video to play for student announcements and/or on the school website.
- Remind them that we have a volunteer base – committed support system.
- Identify school “gatekeeper” and extend effort to keep in regular contact. Schmooze - schmooze – schmooze!
Check out Securing School Approval for tips on getting a school to agree to take an AFS student - even if they have already said "no."