What would you do?
Is there a better way to find out what families and communities want from their children’s schools?Just ask. By asking this question does not imply that you are doing things wrong at school. It does not question your professional expertise and it definitely does not question or doubt your intentions.This is a question of involvement.
Family and community involvement and partnership is the means to a goal: student achievement.Student academic achievement promotes stronger families, safer homes, and stronger communities-no matter the race, income or location. Success begins right where we are. In families’ present circumstances is where we must focus efforts to best support child and family and community wellness.
Schools can’t change people, but through the school’s efforts, the motivation to change is supported and facilitated. Historically schools’s primary goal was centered on the child as learner and target audience. Now, we know that schools must plan and design instruction, programs and policies with a 2Gen approach. The approach has to be mindful of culture, values and desires of the families served.
The approach is also an extremely important indicator of engagement practices success or failure.
KNOW YOUR COMMUNITY
- Conduct formal and informal surveys, written and word of mouth. This means that educators must go out into the community-conduct outreach. Ask parents if they communicate with their child’s teacher regularly. What are their concerns? How would they like to be involved? How do parents view the school?
- Attend community meetings of groups that represent parents, community members and business leaders. So what, you may be the only caucasian person in the room. Everyone gets to know you and you get to know the key people in your community. What concerns do these groups raise about public education? Do these concerns differ from one group to the next?
- Go into the community and hod neighborhood coffees-in parents’ homes, visit worksites and find out what they think about the school. How would they like to see change? What would they do to improve the services schools deliver?
When was the last time that you talked to a parent about the school-not just their child? Do most of your conversations center on crises or do they suggest ways to improve learning? Parents want to feel that their opinions count. Are you listening to what messages parents send? Do your classroom teachers wait for students in the classrooms in the morning or afternoon or are they out front as children arrive in the mornings? Are they outside with students in the afternoons? These are perfect times to engage parents-casually and meaningfully.
Encourage teachers to be seen BEFORE children enter the building, and definitely at dismissal times, have your teachers escort students out of the building. When teachers are seen before children enter school, their presence alone can set the tone for the school day. Teachers can get a sense of a child’s demeanor and the way they separate from their parent[how they get out of the car, let go of parent’s hand,etc…]
In many communities, parents feel as though they have no agency or voice in which direction the school