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Partnership Action Team Toolkit: Question 4

How can an Action Team help the school welcome families and develop trust and positive relationships with families?

Along with academic goals, Joyce Epstein, director of the National Network of Partnership Schools, advises schools to set an annual partnership-strengthening goal. School Action Teams that make targeted efforts to welcome, respect, and involve all of its students' families are more likely to have trusting relationships among families and staff that revolve around the well-being and learning of the child or young person.

Families are more likely to become involved in children's schools when they

  • Understand that they SHOULD be involved
  • Feel CAPABLE of making a contribution
  • Feel INVITED by the school and by their children

(Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler)

Wisconsin parents serving on a Department of Public Instruction leadership team were even more specific. They maintained that parents want "Three R's" from schools:

Respect
Parents want school staff to respect them and their commitment to their child.

Relationships
Parents want to have a trusting relationship with teachers and other school staff.

Rules
Parents want to know the school rules, or both written and "unwritten" expectations for students, families, and school staff.

Action Teams can set a "climate of partnership" by including ideas such as the following in their One-Year Action Plan.

  • Establish a parent network to help parents learn and discuss parenting approaches and school issues with other families.
  • Publish the e-mail addresses and school phone numbers of teachers, as well as times they are available during the school day.
  • Create interactive homework assignments that allow families to share knowledge with children.
  • Host "Back-to-School Nights" for families and teachers to socialize.
  • Sponsor periodic community forums for families to discuss school issues.

WATCH

Coming soon! Karen Mapp, Harvard School of Education, excerpt from the 2009 Parent Leadership Conference

 

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For questions about this information, contact Ruth Anne Landsverk (608) 266-9757