An update on Advisory Council Ideas

A very good young teacher I visited recently told me he was having problems with his advisory committee meetings. It seems his supervisors want to have central meetings with all the advisory councils combined. This is the surest way to kill an Advisory Committee.  I will take out references to his name and share the note I wrote him.
Hi new Teacher,

 I am very proud of your accomplishments, your use of technology is outstanding.
You asked me about Advisory Committees as you know when I was a teacher like you I had a very good active advisory which after the instructor first,  is the foundation of a dynamic Career Technical program.  You may recall that the Business and Education Advisory council for the Automotive program at Hutchings was composed of 38-44 people covering all interested industries, and the business community in Macon. The meetings were well attended and you might find the Mayor and automotive Industry VIPs from as far off as California and New York such was the interest in the program. see http://www.schooltube.com/video/21bfb1980a694e83a98e/AYES%20B&E%20Meeting Video of last meeting I hosted. You can see some key people here at this meeting along with the mayor.
Here are some tried and true rules and guides for a strong advisory council for your program. There are many more and a guide on the NATEF web site. Here are the ones I feel you are asking about.
Automotive people are very busy and must know,  What’s in it for me?  They have to see the return on investment. Unless they have children in the system/school they could care less about the scores on the test of the month or the rising/falling grades. Even though many times the dealerships are the largest tax generators in the county they just don’t understand education. Making them sit in a meeting while educators/administrators talk “Ed Speak” for an hour or more kills their interest and they Won’t be back. 
Do not call them on the end of the month or the first, don’t call them after 4 pm or before 10 am, They are busy with customers. Don’t schedule a meeting during those times, it won’t work!
A Tuesday or Thursday lunch meeting in the middle of the month with a guaranteed hour only for the meeting was my promise to them. 11:30 to 12:30 will work best.
Evening meetings are OK but you have to plan on after 6 pm and again only an hour. Attendance was always less. For 16 years of having four meetings a year I will say that a lunch meeting works best. Plan the agenda to meet your NATEF requirements carefully. Send the agenda items by email or snail mail or better yet hand deliver and have a chat with the member at least a month before the planned meeting. It is good to hand deliver a printed invitation. I would then visit for a few minutes at least a week before as a reminder and to possibly answer any questions about the agenda. A phone call to remind them is good the week of the meeting and then a call in the AM of the meeting day. I always had a poised articulate student do the calls for me on the day of the meeting. Always remind the attendee that they are important, this is their training program and they and any employee or supervisor is welcome.
The Culinary Arts program catered the meetings and that worked very well. Actually the quality of the meals was aways a hit with the members. They were impressed with the students and the food. During the meeting my students would video the meeting and take pictures as the meeting went on. Several times the Mayor’s photographer came and did a photo shoot. After the meeting ask if any want to tour the shop and observe a class in session. This gives the members a chance to meet the high quality student you have.
The key points here are these advisory councils will grow and succeed on your efforts. They are the stakeholders by virtue of the tax they pay. They should learn that your students are the “Farm Team” for their “Major League” businesses.
Explaining the features and benefits of your students and their training will open their eyes to the resource you can be as the filter and proving ground for their future employees.  An active advisory can be such a benefit to your students it would be a shame to abuse the members with poorly planed meetings that do not meet their business needs. You have been in the real world of work, you know how it works. Common sense approach to people that answers the Whats in it for me? question will always be better than asking the business person to come to the school just because some one wants to check a box off on a form to go in a file cabinet. Just as you have transition from a technician that teaches to a teacher of technicians, you must convert business people that attend into stakeholders that will support, promote and give student opportunities.
You can also visit this article  for more tips on successful Advisory committees
I hope this helps.
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