February 17, 2023

How to Design Community Meetings

Part of our series on Family Networking Opportunities

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Looking for a way to showcase the passion and values of your families? Try a community meeting. Community meetings are gatherings of students, staff, and families. They help families put faces to names and see one another in a positive light. Below are some tips to creating a successful community meeting. 

Make It a Regular Occurrence 

Developing meaningful connection requires more than one event. Building community meetings into the school calendar at least quarterly gives an opportunity for families to grow their relationships and get comfortable sharing their ideas. Events scheduled at predictable intervals can boost attendance – but predictable does not necessarily mean the same day and time. A predictable meeting cadence may mean rotating days of the week and meeting times in a way that is easy for people to follow.

Be sure to also consider any specific “no-go” times that impact other important events happening at the school. 

Consider the Size of the Group and Select an Accessible Space 

The size of the group will impact the type of activities you feature in the meeting, as well as the dynamic. Is it important to have time and space for families to mingle before or after the meeting? Before determining the size consider: 

  • The goals of your community meeting. 

  • What you know about the families (accessibility needs, likes, dislikes, availability, etc.).  

Then, designate space(s) that will balance accommodating the group size and providing a quality experience. For example, the gym may hold a lot of people, but it can be difficult to hear.  

Encourage Student and Family Leadership 

Community meetings foster networking if families have an opportunity to lead at least one core component. Invite families to share important cultural traditions, practices, or interests. Use the meeting to showcase student work and share relevant announcements to encourage family attendance and participation. Keep this space positive! Avoid using the time to discuss discipline issues, lecture grade levels, or remind families about things like getting students to school on time.  

Engage Families Virtually   

Many families will not be able to make an in-person community meeting work. Create opportunities for virtual engagement, where families can livestream together on a private and secure link. Encourage families who will be attending virtually to submit a mini video lesson on the topic of their choice, send in artwork, or participate in other community-centered challenges to showcase at the community meeting. 

Keep the Agenda Predictable and Sustainable 

Agendas make your meetings flow and add a layer of predictability. Here are some key considerations for planning your agenda: 

  • The more often you host your meetings, the shorter they may need to be to keep them sustainable for staff to pull off.  

  • Plan your agenda to be led by students, families, or other community members, with a staff member supporting.  

  • Choose a school leader to manage the structure and coordination, and have rotating teachers sign up to “host.” This will provide an opportunity for each staff member to put their spin on things, making the event more representative of your diverse school community.   

Sample Agendas


Hosted by Mr. Jones’s 3rd Grade Homeroom:  


HEALTH topic of the month: Skit performed about the Social-Emotional Learning topic of the Month (5 minutes) 

FAMILY SHOWCASE: Student’s family shares about celebrating the Jewish holiday Sukkot (5 minutes) 

CLASS SHOWCASE: 3rd Grade slideshow on architecture project (2 minutes) 

Announcements, reminders, dismissal from school leader (2 minutes) 

WELCOME: School Song Performed by Homeroom students with music teacher (1 minute) 


Hosted by Ms. Thomas’s 9th Grade Writing Workshop: 


Announcements, reminders, dismissal from school leader (2 minutes) 

WELCOME: Spoken word performance by Writing Workshop student (2 minutes) 

HEALTH topic of the month: Meditation to build self-awareness and manage stress, led by Student (5 minutes) 

FAMILY SHOWCASE: Parent of student shares about career trajectory to get into publishing (5 minutes) 

CLASS SHOWCASE: Student writers take turns sharing 30-second previews of books to hype interest in new releases (3 minutes) 

Where Can the Learning Take You? 

In our next blog, we’ll share ideas for creating a Community Learning Hub at your school, setting up a pathway for community members to facilitate small-group learning throughout the year. In the meantime, discover how to implement a Community Conference and a meaningful volunteer event.  

Stay inspired by new ideas and learn from our catalogue of success stories, tips, and evidenced-based trainings for school staff from Kohl’s Healthy at Home

- By Alexis Lassus, National Advisor, Whole Child Health and Kohleun Adamson, Manager, Culturally Responsive Communications