Working close to the ground

icon-reachingdiverseWhen designing PLE, working with agencies from other sectors can help make your materials more relevant to your audience. The Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations (FMTA) was reminded of the importance of staying close to the ground when working on the Connecting Communities Tenants’ School project in collaboration with settlement agencies.

The FMTA, a tenants’ rights advocacy organization, wanted to start training settlement workers.  It sought input from settlement agencies to modify its existing training module for tenants. Geordie Dent of the FMTA reports, “We [FMTA] put together the [advisory] committees with the idea that they would tweak our existing work. In the end, they radically revamped a lot of it.”

This is because settlement agencies found that existing curriculum did not reflect some major challenges faced in their communities.  For example, the original training did not include a module on how to deal with discrimination when looking for housing – a reality faced by many newcomers.  The FMTA designed one with extensive input from the partner agencies. It also made other changes to its training approach and examples to make the training more responsive to immigrant community needs.

Geordie shares with us his biggest challenge and top learning from the Tenants’ School:

Challenge: “Getting long term feedback. We’ve tried a few strategies to get feedback on our work and it’s currently a struggle.”

Learning: “How advisory committees are really able to share a project in dynamic and innovative ways.”

Future plans for the Tenants’ School include training front-line caseworkers in rural and remote areas.  The Toronto-based FMTA will work with different agencies to make sure that the training reflects local needs.

For more information about the Connecting Communities Tenants’ School, click here.

Do you have any tips for Geordie on how to improve feedback?  If so, please share them below.

Leave a comment