Many school Districts across the Nation are working to wrap their hands around innovative and effective ways to engage communities and families that they serve. Here are some ways to innovative engage stakeholders and common issues faced with engagement. Teachers play a critical role in educating our students and also engaging our families. However, teachers and the Parent Liaison can’t do it alone!
I’ve found success supporting schools as they engage communities and families by implementing Family Support Teams, hosting Family Nights and driving professional development . Family Support Team pulls together all the school support staff that work directly with students and families. This includes the Parent Liaison/Coordinator, Graduation Coach, Nurse, Social Worker, School Psychologist, SEL Coordinator, Behavior Specialist, Attendance Clerk, Registrar and Front Office Staff. When these areas are connected, collaborating, providing fluid communication and consensus of the needs students and families have, everyone’s job is a little more fulling and a lot less stressful. One of the major concerns of parents in communication from schools. It’s either too much coming from various areas at one time or it’s not consistent. The family support team is a remedy for success to help with this.
How do we get parents to the school? District family engagement teams across the Nation are working to beef up their level of parent engagement. The Family Night concept works. It’s a two-hour block of planning, professional development, family and fun! The concept consists of having leadership development and planning led by parent groups, data review led the Principal and academic leaders, followed by academic presentations led by students with enough time to have a wellness activity with all stakeholders. It’s a great opportunity for parent groups to meet, school leaders to present data and students to show their gift, talents and academic accomplishments. The family night concept is also accompanied with a morning Principal coffee and conversation or breakfast with parents and stakeholders to review school data and receive feedback.
Collaboration with professional development is key! To really ensure that education is effectively continuing at home, bringing parents and stakeholders to the table to help drive this work is key. I recommend to schools to have quarterly professional development sessions with faculty and staff at the beginning of the 1st (beginning of school) and 2nd quarter (after winter break/January) with parent and community leaders help lead areas. Implementing monthly leadership team meetings that incorporate parent, community and administrative leaders. This can be done in partnership with school parent groups, Alumni and community groups.
Challenges around Engagement & Family Support
- Transportation (meeting parents where they are and creating partnerships with community organizations and businesses)
- Childcare (incorporating children activities/care in school meetings/events)
- Inclusion of behavior, SEL and communal (adult education, economic development, career building) resources in engagement
- Transition of grade levels
- Preparation and registration support for summer, after school and weekend enrichment initiatives
- Understanding student records, data and reporting systems