George Lucas Educational Foundation

What Are Your Best Parent-Teacher Engagement Tips?

What Are Your Best Parent-Teacher Engagement Tips?

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We're working with GreatSchools to put together an informal guide of tips for involving parents in classrooms, and we want to hear from you!

Whether you're a parent, teacher, or school administrator, let us know your tried-and-true strategies; the things that worked, and maybe even the things that didn't but from which you learned valuable lessons.

Submit your tips as comments in this discussion.

We'll go through all the shared tips and assemble them into a free guide available for download. The guide will quote the best tips and give credit to the people who shared them, so please be sure to include your name, role (parent, 3rd grade teacher, etc.), and state in which you live.

The deadline for submitting your tips is April 25, 2014, so be sure to respond quickly.

Thanks for participating!

Comments (34) Sign in or register to comment Follow Subscribe to comments via RSS

Samer Rabadi's picture
Samer Rabadi
Online Community Engagement Manager

Koren, you make a good point. Are there any specific practices you use to help build that trust?

Koren's picture
Elementary and Special Ed teacher

Hi Samer,
Thanks for asking. I do not do anything I feel is out of the ordinary. I respond to parent calls, and always follow through if I state that I am going to call them. I also jot quick student specific notes on papers (keeping things real) I send home, and I have a classroom newsletter. I listen to parental concerns and I am genuine in my responses. I try to educate myself about the family, their culture, their priorities, and what if anything has gone on, or is going on in the home. I am a constant communicator, so nothing is left to assume. Parents are more likely to be open and honest if you do not prejudge them and their children. As far as the system is concerned, the community needs to realize and have an active voice in education and demand change. The rules need to apply to all the students, not just students of PTO members, or affluent community members. Adults and especially children know when something is fair and just. People are also more savvy than I've seen a lot of teachers give them credit for. We are all in this together. That is the only way to make it work! I hope this gives some idea of how to increase trust among students and parents.

Samer Rabadi's picture
Samer Rabadi
Online Community Engagement Manager

Being present, being authentic, taking people as they are, being willing to communicate without a hidden agenda--so simple and yet so difficult.

Thanks for the response, Koren. I appreciate your taking the time to do so.

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

Koren...I think you hit it perfectly! Trust is key. It is built on following through on the little things (which are really the big things). AND....I agree, no one should ever receive special treatment for serving on a PTO; we all need to listen without judgement; and need to leave our egos & personal agendas at the door. Thank you! :-)

Sharon Spencer's picture
Sharon Spencer
2nd Grade Teacher/Walden University Student

I chose this blog because it relates to my research topic. Parental involvement fosters learning during early childhood. Parents have a strong influence on student achievement in schools. This blog has influenced my thoughts about parent involvement. I strongly agree that it effects student achievement. Teachers should develop ways to keep parents involved with their children's education. What are some suggestions for keeping parents involved in elementary schools?

Kevin Jarrett's picture
Kevin Jarrett
Maker Educator, Google Certified Innovator & Trainer, Dreamer, Doer. Learning experience designer, workshop leader/speaker, author. Stanford #Fablearn Fellow. #GoogleEI #GoogleET

Hi Sharon,

"What are some keeping parents involved in elementary schools?" That's going to be a long list! To me, the answer above all is to provide, maintain and nurture a school culture based on mutual respect, openness, professionalism, service to others, and fairness. Easier said than done - the Devil's in the details - but if the culture is done right, the rest will take care of itself!


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

Sharon...First, I think the achievement piece comes from engaging the families in the learning and giving them the resources needed to have the ability to support their child's learning outside of school.
Ultimately, the answers in all of the comments made here help keep parents involved on ES's. Each family is unique in that they've got different beliefs, living/working situations, and experience with school themselves; so beyond the basics that Kevin mentioned (because they will always apply to all), you need to provide a variety of opportunities. Ways for families to participate from home, on the weekends, in small amounts, etc.

strongfathers's picture
Father and Family Engagement Expert

We push volunteerism a lot when we speak of parent engagement but it is WAY MORE important to get parents engaged at home, with their kids. Parents have limited time to do anything. We need parents engaged with their kids, then engaged with the classroom, then engaged with the curriculum and volunteerism comes later. We have to grow parents into volunteers after we have helped them become parents helping their children succeed. Focus on parent-student activities that enhance academics while building better engagement across the board.

John S. Thomas's picture
John S. Thomas
First & Second Grade Teacher/Adjunct Faculty Antioch University New England, former Elementary Principal

Strongfathers....I totally agree- parents need to start their work at home and if that is all the capacity they have then that is life but at least they are taking care of basic responsibilities. I actually have had some parents who are fantastic volunteers but fail to provide enough support at home for their child. Obviously if parents have the time and energy to do more then great....but I've noticed a significant decrease in volunteerism and engagement in schools by families since the economy turned for the worse several years back. Families are so much more stressed these days. My current school is working on finding ways to get families more engaged in learning surrounding proper sleep, gaming/screen time, and reading habits while at home. While we would love to expand our parent engagement IN SCHOOL, we feel like so much work is needed for parent engagement AT HOME so when the children show up each morning their time in school is productive learning time.

Jennifer Osborne's picture
Jennifer Osborne
ELA 9th Grade Teacher from Richland, MS

We all have students with attitudes, habits and/or issues that hinder their progress in school. When making calls home to ask for assistance from parents, I always start by listing any and all positives about the student. I strive during every call to highlight good things that are happening in the classroom, then move to the issues that need to be fixed. Parents are less defensive and will often help willingly. Besides, it's a great reminder for the teacher that there are good traits in every student!

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