4 Keys to Community & Family Engagement in Education
Last week we hosted a #ClassroomChat on community and family engagement. For educators serving diverse student populations in an increasingly connected, digital world, family and community engagement is more important than ever — but also more complex to navigate. Communicating effectively with family members can be a powerful student empowerment tool and district-community partnerships often hold the key to important gaps in cultural relevance, digital accessibility, and more. But building meaningful bridges between school, family, and community inevitably requires a great deal of creativity and innovation on the part of the district, which often requires a teacher leader willing to step up and try something new.
During our #ClassroomChat, educators who have tried out various engagement activities in their districts shared their experiences and advice online with peers. You can check out the full chat archive here, and read on for an overview of the key takeaways:
Make Time After Hours
Many of the specific ideas and strategies shared in the chat centered around specific events that deliberately carve out space and time for carefully organized family and community engagement. Many of these nights have a specific theme and purpose that serve to emphasize the importance of an initiative, educate the community on a district priority, or celebrate the attributes and accomplishments of students, families, and teachers. Here’s an example of an event idea shared in the chat:
Inclusivity is Key
Across the board, our chatters expressed the importance of inclusivity in community and family engagement activities or partnerships. Making home communication accessible in multiple languages, hosting multicultural nights to celebrate diversity with parental and community involvement, and considering the importance of caregivers or nontraditional family structures are all key to ensuring that your family and community engagement strategy is meaningful and equitable. Here are a few sample tweets from the chat around inclusivity:
It Starts with Leadership
Our chatters — who hold a variety of different roles in their districts — frequently emphasized the importance of strong district leadership in forging partnerships with the community and conveying information to families. Leaders play an important role in establishing a positive school climate, widely conveying messages about their district, and forging meaningful partnerships with community groups. Here are a few musings our chatters had on the role of leadership in family and community engagement and school climate:
Get Creative with Tech
While not as dominant in our chat as notions of inclusivity and leadership, we also heard from chatters about the potential for technology to enhance community and family engagement. Technology enables teachers and district leaders to get the word out about school news or initiatives in a faster, more accessible manner. Chatters mentioned the importance of online translating tools in communicating with families who speak different languages and mobile devices in ensuring that families receive important information about their children quickly. They also suggested that educators make full use of various types of digital communication — such as video chats or social media — but without sacrificing face-to-face conversations.
For more on community and family engagement, check out the articles below.
Be sure to join us for our next #ClassroomChat on May 1, 2019 at 8 PM EST on inclusive and equitable classroom environments. Just follow @McGrawHillK12 on Twitter.
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