This article contains:
- Steps for building relationships with schools
- Resources to share with educators
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. Learn more about how to start a dialogue with schools.
- Prepare: Know your audience, provide hand-outs, and have a presentation prepared. Some sample presentations can be found in the Promote AFS section of Help & Learning.
- 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 can't 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
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).
Focus on Schools Webinar
Click here for a video on connecting and building relationships with schools. This webinar from April 2019, presented by Sarah Yancey, AFS-USA Board Member, and Jeff Burtner, Sr. Team Development Specialist, gives an in-depth look on making and maintaining connections with schools and educators.