In this article, you will learn:
- How to find a person to meet with at a school
- Some ideas to do basic research before a school visit
- How to schedule the meeting at a mutually beneficial time for you and the educator
- A few ideas of what to take with you on the visit
- What to listen for on the visit
- How to follow up with the school after the visit
In order to establish and/or maintain a strong school relationship, it’s important to ensure that you are maximizing the time that the educator or member of the school staff is affording you. An educator’s time is truly precious, and they may be reluctant to meet with you if they think the meeting will not result in beneficial information for their staff or students.
Step One: Determine with whom at the school you need to meet.
Think about who you can utilize as a bridge to a contact person at the school. Is there a current host family that is connected? Is there a liaison or volunteer that works at the school? Is there a returnee that could help connect you to a teacher or the principal? Setting up a meeting or school visit with someone through a mutual connection provides a better likelihood that your request will be honored, and you can start chatting about that connecting person as a means of small talk during those first few awkward moments of a new relationship.
Step Two: Do some research about the school
Using the school’s website, look up their Mission and Vision statements to find the words/terms that connect to AFS-USA’s offerings. This allows you to position AFS-USA as a tremendous partner for them to help them reach their mission. Here are a few examples:
- Mission Statement: Provide rigorous and engaging experiences to prepare all children -socially, emotionally, and academically - for their future. – The AFS learning goals for students demonstrate how they will grow and develop personally, inter-personally, culturally and globally which align with the goals to prepare students socially, emotionally and academically.
- Mission Statement: Our mission to develop lifelong learners and globally-minded citizens by fostering the academic, creative, and social skills needed to achieve excellence in a multicultural environment. – This mission has a clear connection to intercultural learning and exchange as they are striving to develop “globally-minded” citizens and preparing students to succeed in a “multicultural environment” in their futures. This is a school that should see a clear correlation with intercultural learning activities and lessons, hosting exchange students and promoting study abroad.
Step Three: Strategically schedule the meeting/visit
You have a tight schedule to navigate much like that of a school administrator or counselor. Rather than meeting during the school day, sometimes it may be best to schedule a phone call, meet before school hours before you go to work, or even meet them at an after-school event that they might supervise. If you can help the educator combine the meeting with you with something else that they are obligated to do, they will appreciate not having to schedule an extra meeting. You can even do the same with a club sponsor by offering to share information with students and do an intercultural activity during their meeting, thereby saving the sponsor from planning the meeting AND they still get to hear the information you wanted them to have! Make sure to ask them if there’s an event that they will be attending where you could meet them and help them multitask because they may assume you have a business hour schedule even though you may not.
Step Four: Take the appropriate materials with you to leave behind
Use the information about the school on their website to your advantage and highlight the appropriate areas of the most recent Global Educator Newsletter. If this is a school focused on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) then take things like Project: Change and BP Scholarship information with you. If this is a school focused on the Arts & Humanities, consider taking information about the Visual Storyteller Scholarship, the Sponsored Programs Scholarships, and highlight some of the Global Prep summer programs. If this is a dual language/immersion school, consider taking information about the Sustainable Development Goals, our academic year and semester programs, as well as information about the AFS Educational Goals for students that highlight what we hope to achieve for every student who participates in an AFS program.
For more ideas on how to pack a folder to leave behind for your meeting/visit, please read the next article about “What to Take on a School Visit”.
Step Five: Listen and Follow up
It goes without saying that you will be an active listener when you are granted some of the school personnel’s time. Listen for statements about what they are trying to accomplish but haven’t yet and plans that they are making for the future. Try to take notes during the meeting or when you return to your car. Those notes will allow you to do a few things:
- Ask for help to provide resources to the school that they inquired about
- Share the information that they need but that you didn’t have with you
- Know what to include in a follow-up message with the educator when you send a thank you note/email.
After your initial follow-up within 7-10 days of your meeting, this is your contact to reach out to with more ideas as they come up within AFS. Keep the school on your radar to share something that might help them every 4-6 weeks. That may include a new scholarship, the latest newsletter, an offer to help with a newsletter or internationally focused event or something that you learned about during your meeting.