Sunday, January 30, 2011

After Too Long An Absence . . .

Greetings from sunny Tampa and the National Title I Conference!

I'm pleased to say that family engagement is a hot topic this year at this conference and so it should be.  In addition to my session, Families and Educators:  A Joint Book Club Concept, there are at least five other presenters who are helping Title I teachers and other Title I staff attending to understand best practices and get a handle on this idea of authentically partnering with parents.


What I see happen too many times:

1) Educators and parents "in charge" (such as PTA/PTO leadership) don't take the time to talk to your average, every-day parent (the involved and the not involved).  Making them a part of the solution is essential!

2) Professional educators trying to teach families how to do the "academic stuff" that those teachers are teaching children in the classroom (and that those teachers went to school multiple years to master).  You may have some families interested in that, but I guarantee you are limiting your family engagement if you take that approach.  Use your curriculum mapping to look for complementary practical "real-life" activities you can involve families in, rather than duplication of academic practice.  You'll engage many more moms, dads, grandmas, uncles and community members AND children will hear the important message that LEARNING HAPPENS EVERYWHERE, NOT JUST AT SCHOOL.

Get Involved in the Conversation!

I'd love to hear from all of you out there (both attendees at this important conference and those who are "holding down the forts") on these questions:

1) What is the MOST EFFECTIVE family engagement activity/strategy you EVER saw work at your school?  What made it successful?

2) Why do you think parents aren't involved with their children's learning? 

You can add more insight by responding to a brief survey online.  Its findings will be the beginning of a new book on this important subject . . .