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ENGAGE! Communicating with All Families

Sep 27, 2017, 10:54 AM

The National Standards for Family School Partnerships focuses on what parents, schools and communities can do together to support student success. The second of the six standards focuses on communicating effectively. The goal of this standard is to share information between school and families.

To achieve meaningful, two-way communication, it’s important to:

  • Use multiple channels (traditional flyers and notes, phone calls, texts, social media, etc.)
  • Ask families about their issues or concerns using formal and informal surveys
  • Share information on current issues of interest to families
  • Facilitate connections among families

As you think about your school or schools in your district, consider these questions:

  • Are communication materials informative, regular, and accessible by all families?
  • Is there a school policy for teacher communication with families?
  • Are there translators?
  • Is there a policy for family communication with teachers?
  • Do the school and PTA have opportunities for families and staff to share information in a variety of ways (e.g., e-mail, home visits, phone calls, printed materials)?
  • Is it is easy and convenient for parents to contact teachers and provide feedback to the school around policies and issues of concern?

All families should feel the school informs them about important issues and that it’s easy to communicate with teachers, the principal, and other staff. Creating a perception that a dominant group of parents is in the know while everyone else is in the dark reduces trust and stifles the free flow of ideas.

Twitter has become a terrific way for parents and teachers to connect with others and create their own personal learning network (PLN). Every Wednesday night from 9 to 10 pm EST, parents and teachers from around the world engage in lively discussions using the hashtag #PTChat. Each week features a different topic and many feature guest experts who contribute to the conversation.  Topics cover everything from planning back to school nights to balancing academics with extracurricular activities. Join us next week and learn more about engaging all families!

ENGAGE! is a weekly column on Family Engagement written by Sherri Wilson, Senior Manager of Family and Community Engagement at the National PTA. Sherri is the former Director of the Alabama Parent Information and Resource Center and is currently responsible for developing and implementing programs related to family and community engagement at the National PTA.