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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Educating Teachers: The ABCs of Parental Involvement

Emphasizing the importance for teachers to include parents in the classroom.
By Edutopia Staff

National PTA President Ginny Markell and her organization promote programs that train teachers to forge more productive parent-teacher relationships

Credit: National PTA

"Until we're willing to spend the time and do the training to prepare teachers to work with parents, parental involvement for many will continue to mean someone who comes to school to run the Xerox machine."

Ginny Markell understands the importance of meaningful parent involvement in our schools.

As the National PTA president, Markell has crisscrossed the country touting the benefits of an active, engaged community of parents. And as a high school teacher, she has experienced firsthand the difficulties of connecting with all her students' families and helping them become leaders in her class and in the school.

"Just because you're a great classroom teacher doesn't mean you feel comfortable working with parents," says Markell. "That's the great fallacy of the system."

Rather than assuming teachers will intuitively know how to facilitate a partnership with parents, the National PTA has been working with the American Association for Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE) to add curriculum for aspiring teachers that includes a discussion of strategies for facilitating parental involvement. To date, seven states have participated in the pilot project: Alabama, Alaska, California, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania.

Through its support of The PARENT Act, the National PTA is also lobbying to have parent involvement included as a necessary component of all staff development activities funded through the Eisenhower Professional Development Program for current teachers.

Comments (12)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

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kam's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I think that providing a course or courses in parental communication skills for aspiring teachers is a super idea. I believe many individuals would benefit from techniques and skills offered through a college course. Many students do not have the benefit of strong role models in the area of communication and people skills.

April's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I agree. As a new teacher I was very self-conscious when it came to speaking with parents. I didn't want to say something that would be taken the wrong way. Three years later, I have learned that you have to be very careful in what you say and/or write. It would have been very helpful to have a course in parent communication and parent involvement. I am still trying to find ways to involve my students' parents on a regular basis. On parent/teacher conference days we have sign-up sheets for parent volunteers but we rarely get more than five or six volunteers. We do a lot of cross curricular activities where it would be beneficial to have some extra hands around. Does anyone have any suggestions or ideas on how to involve more parents? Something that you have tried and works?

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