You will need to enlist the support of your school’s principal in order to undertake the self-assessment. It is important to reassure the principal that the self-assessment is intended to be a positive, collaborative experience that will be of benefit to parents, teachers, principal and students alike.

Emphasize that all participants must be committed to engaging in positive dialogue and to working for positive change. Offer reassurances that this will not become a forum for criticizing individual teachers, parents, students or principals, nor will the results be used to compare schools. You may find that offering to recruit a neutral facilitator will help to reassure the principal that the discussion will not be allowed to go off track.

The principal may be more receptive to the process if s/he knows that parents and students will be able to hold an informed discussion about issues in French-second-language (FSL) education. Explain that background information is available for all participants and suggest that the principal review it. Be sure to make it clear that you have reasonable expectations about student involvement; they will be involved only in activities that are appropriate to their age, maturity and skills.

Remember that your principal has a responsibility to students, parents and teachers in both core and immersion programs and will not want to seem to favour one program. Make sure that it is clear that both programs will be addressed and that representatives of both programs will be included in the assessment group.

Principals are busy people and may feel that this self-assessment will be a lot of work without a useful purpose. Emphasize that this process will lead to positive change since action and advocacy plans will be developed and implemented.

Your principal may be concerned that the self-assessment will raise issues that cannot be addressed at the school level. Acknowledge this fact and explain that in those cases the group will simply complete the assessment instrument as though the school had the responsibility and make a note that someone else has greater control over this indicator. An action plan around these indicators might include an advocacy component to bring the issues to the attention of those responsible and to work with them to effect positive change.

The principal will probably need some time to review the self-assessment tool and to consult with staff before making a decision. Make arrangements to call back on a specific date for further discussion.

Next step: Preparing for the Meeting