Action Steps - Standard 1
- Establish a PTA welcoming committee responsible for identifying ways to make all families feel welcome.
- Survey family members and school staff to determine how family-friendly your school is.
What Parents and Parent Leaders Can Do
- Greet other parents at school activities and events; sit with someone you don’t know and get to know them.
- Recruit bilingual parents to greet and interpret for families whose first language isn’t English. Ask the school district to provide translation headsets for parent meetings.
- Offer family activities at low or no cost so everyone can participate; budget PTA/parent group funds for this purpose.
- Work to change the conversations going on over the back fence. If people complain about “immigrants” or use ethnic slurs, stay positive and point out the contributions all families can make to the community.
- Hold meetings in a variety of community locations (e.g., the local library, a community center, a church) to make them accessible to all.
What School Leaders and Staff Can Do
- Work with the school council to develop customer service guidelines to be used by school staff.
- Set up a parent help desk or visitor welcome center outside the school office.
- Conduct meet-and-greet walks in the neighborhoods where students live.
- Use a professional development day to address assumptions about race, class, and culture.
- Explore the need for and feasibility of establishing a family resource center in the school.
- Be accessible and available. It’s one thing to say families are welcome and valued, but it’s another thing to show it.
This list can also be downloaded as a Word document under "Additional Resources."
Beyond the Bake Sale: The Essential Guide to Family-School Partnerships, by Anne T. Henderson, Karen L. Mapp, Vivian R. Johnson, and Don Davies (New York: The New Press, 2007), examines, among other things, how to know whether your school is really open to partnerships (chapter 3) and how to develop trusting relationships (chapter 4). Chapter 4 ends with a checklist for determining how family-friendly your school is.
Building Relationships for Student Success: School-Family-Community Partnerships and Student Achievement in the Northwest, by Diane Dorfman and Amy Fisher (Portland, OR: Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, 2002), is a booklet of key research and of promising practices in schools with high poverty rates and large minority populations, including schools on Indian reservations.
The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) provides resources for developing relationships, including Ideas and Tools for Working with Parents and Families.
Including Every Parent (2003), an instructional guide developed by parents and teachers at the Patrick O’Hearn Elementary School in Boston and the Project for School Innovation, explores specific practices critical to engaging and empowering parents at school.
National Fatherhood Initiative offers programs, workshops, publications, and other materials to encourage men to be involved, responsible, and committed fathers. NFI is a founding member of PTA's MORE alliance, which is dedicated to encouraging male involvement and prsentingoportunities to get men involved.
Tellin’ Stories, the parent organizing program of Teaching for Change, uses the power of story to connect people from diverse backgrounds.