Schools engaging with Parents: Research says…

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about Parent Engagement in K-12 Schools. What has struck me is the relative lack of controversy in the literature.

There are two consistent themes in the literature:

1. The parent engagement models are both limited and validated in the research. Parents want to engage, engagement declines over the schools years, and there is a positive correlation between parent involvement and school achievement.

2. Teachers and principal need help to build successful partnerships with parents. Teachers are not equally comfortable with the use of social learning tools. So, if technology is to be used in parent engagement, we will need to train the teachers not only in the practice of parent engagement but also provide support for the technologies they will use.

Improvement Cycle School Family PartnershipsI have also come to realize that the relationship between school practice, research and policy and legislation is one of continuous, or adaptive, improvement. Innovation drives changing school practice, academic inquiry about the successes of innovative school practice drives research, public opinion fueled by the research data drives change in policy and legislation. Policy and legislation requires changes to school practice.

One piece of feedback I have received is that the improvement cycle assumes that parents and teachers WANT to be involved. I think the research is saying parents want to be involved (if one can extrapolate that every parent wants the best for his/her child) but don’t know how, and that teachers aren’t hearing the research (although some get it intuitively or through experience) so aren’t motivated and also don’t know how to engage.

I am posing these questions in an effort to validate my assumptions. Can you help?

    As a teacher, have you experienced any formal or informal preparation for involving parents in their children’s learning?

    As a parent, where do you look for support in engaging with your child’s school?

Or propose an alternate conclusion. This is a work in progress.

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5 Responses

  1. Seems like interesting and important research. My experience this semester included my work to gather e-mail addresses and create e-mail distribution lists by class. I then sent periodic updates home with links to my classroom blogs and information. Initially I recieved some great feedback, many encouraging comments. I don’t really have any great way of determining whether or not parents are still viewing my web-space and keeping up with assignments and other details. I am thinking about sending a brief survey to parents via e-mail to determine use, usefulness, and opinions of my web-space.

  2. My experience for parents is that they often go to other parents first. They may not know how to approach the teacher or Principal. They – like anyone else need to be comfortable in asking questions. I have had many parents tell me that they don’t what to ask and when.

    This is especially true for first time parents.

  3. I never had any formal or informal training and basically went by my gut feeling. I knew if I was a parent I would want close contact with my child’s teachers and tried to act that way. For more than 20 years I have called my student’s parents/guardians every 2 weeks to talk about what we are doing in the classroom and the good things about that student. I asked parents to let students know that I was bragging about them and in turn the students worked even harder for me. Students who acted up sometimes didn’t get a call home as quick as ones who were “good.” When they asked why, I told them this and as soon as I saw a change in behavior, I immediately called home. Maybe that is why over 20 years, I did not have many behavior problems and saw a big improvement in achievement. I never saw any scientific research but this is just from personal experience.

  4. s a parent I’m looking to all of you out here in the blogosphere to help me keep trying to engage with my child’s school — it is not coming from the upper administrations of school.

    We have great teacher’s that want to involve parent’s but are not sure how to go beyond the photo-copying, cutting out, washing desks kind of tasks. They would be willing to try but administration seems to throw roadblocks at every attempt. Offer to help with the website — no I’m sorry that’s a security risk. Help a teacher start a Blog — sorry blog’s are scary and blocked. Start a community parent’s ning — no school events, no pictures that may have been taken at the school, no teacher’s allowed to participate, no discussions regarding school (even thought it was an initiative that was community based they are still trying to control it).

    My personal frustration level is at an all-time high. I want so desperately to be involved at my child’s school in a meaningful way, a way that I can share my interests and aptitudes but there is no place for me beyond the traditional parent roles (secretary, fund-raiser, parent council). How do I carve out my place — how do I quell the fears and work with administration in a productive way? I’m at a loss.

    So thank-you — thank-you for a post that once again renews my spirit and resolve. That says research is on your side — your involvement will make a difference. Keep trying. I’ll try to use the roadblocks as teaching moments to help teachers and administration feel more comfortable with social network tools, I’ll try to find a place, I’ll try to be there to enhance my child’s education. Because if I succeed it will open the door to so many to do the same.

  5. Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation 🙂 Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Kidnapper.

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