Over the last few week, I was fortunate to stop into some of the open houses across the district. There was one takeaway that resonated and that was how happy the parents were leaving each of the open houses. This is important because family engagement is associated with higher achievement for all of our students. When schools and families work together to support learning, children are more successful.
As we move to reimagine our classrooms and schools, parents and community members play an important role in this process. Here are a few suggestions of how to move engagement from traditional school activities to more active engagement for change.
Instead of traditional activities of discussing children's interests, setting expectations or supervising homework, parents/guardians can be encouraged to engage children's curiosity and passions, modeling 21st century skills such as collaboration and citizenship.
Instead of traditional activities of only sending out school notices like newsletters, letters home, or calendar updates, reach out to parents to engage in book studies, and twitter chats, or use social media to gain engage parents in conversations.
Instead of traditional activities where parents volunteer, fund-raise, or attend parent-teacher conferences, what if you engaged parents, so they can contribute their expertise on a project, or become an authentic audience for student work, or participate in student-led conferences.
(Adapted from Suzie Boss, All Together Now, p. 99).
Consider new ways to engage parents as partners and participants in reimagining learning.
Questions to think about:
How might we design a better way for families, educators, and community partners to support student learning--together? How family friendly is your school? How family friendly is your classroom? What are the barriers that keep parents and other family members from engaging in their children's schools?
Here is a great article with one strategy you could use:
Pick up the Phone