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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Getting Parents Engaged with School

Getting Parents Engaged with School

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Last night, we had a meeting at the high school to talk about our STEM program and also about Digital Citizenship. While it was well attended by administrators, very few parents actually attended, and it was all the familiar faces that attend every meeting.

We're going to try some novel approaches to parent engagement in the coming months, including everything from videos online, allowing remote access to meetings. email newsletters and more. What approaches work well for your school? How do you get parents information they need, or even to become interested in subjects like digital citizenship that can actually affect their kid's job or college application process?

It seems like parents may be most engaged at transition times and at the beginning of the school year. We'd like to build relationships that are ongoing and not episodic, and built on openness and collaboration instead of crisis management. We know this will take time.

What do you think might help? What has worked best in your school? Does the messenger matter? Is it best coming from the teacher or from the school, or District as a whole? Is it better coming from other parents?

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Amy Erin Borovoy (aka VideoAmy)'s picture
Amy Erin Borovoy (aka VideoAmy)
Senior Manager of Video Programming, Production, & Curation at Edutopia

A topic dear to my heart! I have a 5-Minute Film Fest about this incredibly important issue -- check it out for videos and resources for connecting with parents:

Five-Minute Film Festival: Parent-Teacher Partnerships

I also highly recommend Larry Ferlazzo's work around this topic. Larry is a great educational curator and high school teacher who wrote a book in 2008 on the topic. His parent engagement blog is here:

Engaging Parents In School...

Here's a wonderful PDF chart from his book that maps out the difference between "parent involvement" and "parent engagement":


Excited to hear about other ideas and resources!

Gwen Pescatore's picture
Gwen Pescatore
President Home & School Assoc, #ParentCamp Organizer, Co-Moderator #PTchat

Whitney....I think parents attend and participate in things that they feel is relevant and important to them and their families. Properly advertising, sharing how it relates to or effects them, and offering various ways for parents to participate are all important. I think it helps when we start with finding out what it is our families want to know, before we try telling them what we feel they need to know.

Another great way to engage the adults....bring in the kids/students. Let them share/present/teach at the meetings and events. Parents love to see their children and what they've learned. We give our students a 15 min spotlight at each of our monthly meetings and photos of their work fills over 75% of our monthly newsletters.

Link to our monthly PTO agenda where we no longer re-hash old news. The meetings are kept to 1hr and are about sharing information and resources important to our families: http://knappwiki.wikispaces.com/file/view/H%26S%20Agenda.pdf/449373748/H...

Link to our eNewsletter that mixes in blurbs of information families need that coming month with student work: http://www.flipsnack.com/5BE65797C6F/fdp8wjkh?UA_PHPSESSID=tjqktujkbr6si...

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