Parent Involvement

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           You just can’t run a good
     management/discipline program without
        parent/family support, can you?
              Parent Involvement
It’s hard to argue against it, but it’s hard to develop
   it in reality.
Classrooms, schools, and districts that do it well
   will almost always see achievement increases
But how do we…
   – Define it?
   – Understand it?
   – Improve it?
Just like all else in education, there are no “one size
  fits all” magic bullets
   2001 Longitudinal Evaluation of
   School Change and Performance
“Active teacher outreach to parents is as important
  as improved instructional practices to achieve the
  goals of standards-based education initiatives.”
This agrees with a long research base linking parent
  involvement and student achievement, AND
  confirms that teachers are not prepared well
  enough to perform the task.
What can we do to help teachers (and by extension,
  administrators) with this CRITICAL management
  task? That’s tonight’s focus.
      Defining Parent Involvement
There are at least five broad categories of how
  schools define “parent/family involvement”
School Choice. Parents are increasingly being
  allowed greater choice in terms of which school
  their child attends, but do not always do so
  effectively (charters, private, school transfers)
Decision Making. Parents in some schools actually
  sit on governing boards and have real input into
  daily operations, but it requires finesse.
  – some parents go too far
  – some teachers and administrators can’t share power
But when done well, it has a very strong effect.
     Defining Parent Involvement
There are at least five broad categories of how
  schools define “parent/family involvement”
Teaching and Learning. Schools that take parent
  involvement down to individual classrooms AND
  that also get the learning BACK HOME will have
  remarkable effects on achievement.
Affecting the School’s Assets. Schools can use
  parents to help them secure more tools
  (computers, volunteers, money, field trips)
      Defining Parent Involvement
There are at least five broad categories of how
 schools define “parent/family involvement”
Communication. This is the bare minimum for
 parent involvement, but is certainly one of the
 strongest. Schools must PROACTIVELY work
 on communication.
  – time sensitive (weekends and early evenings)
  – culturally sensitive (not all parents share the “typical”
    teacher’s middle class background)
      Why do parents decide to get
We can identify some major factors
1. Parental “role construction.”
  Do they think it is their job? (If not, train them to)
2. Parental sense of efficacy about that role
  Do they believe they’re any good at it, even if it is their
   job? (Show them concrete tips in workshops)
3. Parental perceptions of school invitations
  Do they hear us calling? (If not, what can we do to
   change that, and in how many different ways?)
  A HUGE name in Parent Research
                   Joyce Epstein
Developed a six-strand framework that helps
  schools build programs WITH specific tips for
  making these work in schools (not just theory)
1. Parenting. Help all families establish home
  environments that support learning
  parent education (maybe even literacy or GED
    programs for parents)
  family support that may go beyond traditional ideas
    (health, nutrition)
  home visits, ESPECIALLY at transition points between
2. Communication. Design effective 2-way
  communication strategies (not just letters home)
  Every parent, every year as a staff commitment
  Emphasis on providing translation services
  Regular communication schedule via multiple methods:
   memos, email, phone, web, news media (can schools
   get a column?)
3. Volunteering. Schools must both recruit AND
  organize effective programs
  classroom-level programs to train teachers how to use
    parents and train parents how to help
  “Parent room” on campus
  annual surveys to build a database of available service,
    and can also be web-based
4. Learning at home. Actually and explicitly teach
  parents (not students) about how to improve
  student study skills
  provide grade-appropriate tips each year
  all faculty inform parents of homework policies AND
    how parents can monitor completion at home
  families must help participate in goal-setting sessions
    and in career/college planning.
5. Decision making. Include parents in genuine
  power-sharing, and develop parent leadership.
  reactivate PTA or similar advisory councils
  create INDEPENDENT advocacy groups (Parents for
    Public Schools, Fund for Public Schools)
  increase parent-to-parent networking opportunities
6. Collaboration in the community. Recruit and
  identify more resources in the community to
  strengthen (not ignore) student support
  teach families about the resources as you identify them.
  focus on summer activities in communities for students
    and families
  make it 2-way by informing community of availability
    of students for community service (senior projects,
    drama presentations, recycling program hosting)
         Some more general ideas
Parent Involvement (PI) should be site-wide
PI is multifaceted, and parents bring a wide palette
  of skills that schools often ignore
PI scares many if not most admin and teachers
  because of prior bad experiences
PI is critical and usually just treated as a political
  football, not as the very valid learning tool that it
PI can be increased by “capacity building,” where
  you identify spots at your site where parents can
  help, and have long-term programs of recruiting.
         Some more general ideas
PI can be improved GREATLY by looking at other
  schools that are already doing it.
Go visit schools, and ask these questions
  What are their methods/goals for family involvement?
  How have they used the research?
  What have been their problems and successes? Any
   numbers or anecdotes that they can cite?
  How did they start, expand (ramp-up), replicate to other
   schools, and sustain what they have?
   Questions you can ask about your
Does your school:
1. Invite parents to come to school?
  When and how often?
  How do you meet the parental scheduling needs?
2. Provide a culturally conscious environment?
  Not just ethnicity, but also socioeconomically aware?
   Questions you can ask about your
Does your school:
3. Have high standards, BUT explain them to
  inform parents about help
  show parents how to support those standards at home?
4. Seriously involve parents in key decisions?
  how well do parents “know” teachers/admin
  how quickly do you identify and remediate parent
    problems? Is it just stuck on counseling staff?
        A few research findings...
Schools that provide parent involvement programs
  can see…
parents talking to their kids more often
increased visits to classrooms and campuses
increased parental reading to kids, especially in
  early years
more likely to provide study area and time in home
effects that last longer than 90 days
decreased TV watching, increased library time
increased parental reports of self-confidence
 So what GOALS can you work toward?
Your classroom (and then your school) climate is
  conducive to involving parents (not just bad calls
  and once-a-year mails home)
You and your admin understand AND BELIEVE
  IN the importance of a positive school climate for
  parent involvement
You and admin send a CONSISTENT MESSAGE
  to parents about involvement
Family members feel welcome and report the
Most families on campus are actually involved in
  some way (and you can measure/document this)
Many families also are involved in school activities
  and school governance
     An Action Plan for those GOALS
1. Develop a real plan with times, goals, and
  identified staff responsibilities.
2. Devise a questionnaire and host a focus group to
  identify baseline parent/staff attitudes at your
  school to see congruence and divergence.
3. Recognize that parents will need professional
  development training as much as salaried staff,
  and include this in the plan, especially for the first
  few years as you build capacity.
4. Build ways for the school to be an extension of
  family, not a separate part of life, even as simple
  as using “child” instead of “student.” Weekend
  BBQ’s, parent meetings on the same day as
  something else big (homecoming, big dance,
     An Action Plan for those GOALS
5. Identify a specific number of goals for next year
  (10 teachers with “parent hosts” or “community
6. Brainstorm for more than just the traditional
  ways to use parents for photocopying or working
  in office.
7. Create a communication plan for all likely groups
  of parents (those who will show up immediately,
  those who will join soon, those who you will
  need to constantly ask)
8. Plan for a parent/teacher/admin team retreat at
  the end of the year to evaluate and modify.
            Parent Involvement
Can be done
Is a part of classroom management, since kids that
  know their parents care will care a lot more about
Is part of motivation
Is usually given only lip service
Could arguably be the most important factor in
  the educational outcome of students.

      You can do it!!!!

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