A fascinating workshop at the MASC Conference featured staff and the School Committee Chairman from Somerville. Somerville has a significant population of non-English speakers and parents who are new to the US so family engagement is a significant issue there, but their lessons can be applied in any district...
Challenge Question: How to get traditionally uninvolved parents involved in a way that improves student learning?
Never forget: Some parents don't feel good about coming into a school building because of bad memories of their own schooling, cultural differences, intimidation, etc. It doesn't mean they don't care!
How do you rate your school?
* Unsatisfactory = the philosophy that the parents don't care and that is why their children fail
* Basic = the school will respond if parents call us
* Proficient = open door (curriculum nights, PTO meetings, 2x/yr. parent-teacher conferences, etc.)
* Advanced = parent networks are valued and cultivated, family activities are connected to student learning, home visits to every new family
The 6 types of family engagement:
* Learning at home - parents talking to their children at home (very powerful)
* Collaborating with the community
Ideas to address the challenge:
* District has goals around family and community engagement
* Each school has a plan
* Build these strands into each plan: family in the community, leadership and advocacy, teaching and learning, and the whole child
* Alignment to district plans and commitment to the effort
* Data (do you know who comes into your school and who doesn't?)
For more information, check out:
Margaret Raymond Driscoll is a nine-year Melrose School Committee member who is passionate about excellent teaching and learning for all public school students, and considers it a privilege to collaborate with others who share that passion. You can also follow her on Twitter at @MargaretDrisc. Just to be clear - opinions expressed here do not represent those of the Melrose Public Schools, the Melrose School Committee, or the Massachusetts Association of School Business Officials - they are hers alone.