Relationship-building the smart way
- Submitted by:
- Michael Grose
Many teachers, and indeed many schools, waste their resources on low impact strategies to engage their parents. These are strategies that are easy to do, but they have low impact as they make few changes.
Sending a welcome note to new parents in the school newsletter is an example of a low impact communication strategy. A phone call to new parents to the school is an example of a high impact strategy.
When you sit down to plan your parent engagement program with fellow school leaders or your year level include a high proportion of high impact strategies. It’s the only way to be outstanding.
Here are some examples to get you thinking:
1. Hold a ‘role construction’ workshop for parents. Put new parents in small groups with butcher’s paper and ask them to construct their role in their child’s learning. Get the talk going and then get some feedback from all the groups. Better still, get some agreement about their role in their child’s learning.
2. Conduct a ‘language of school ‘workshop for secondary school parents. Make secondary school easier for parents by demystifying some of the jargon. It’s a great workshop for first time parents.
3. Have outdoor dismissals in February. Make it easy for parents to speak to you, by dismissing the class in the open air. This is a high impact strategy best suited to primary schools.
4. Phone every parent to welcome them to your class or to the year level. An introductory welcoming phone call is a fantastic way to build good will with parents. This is an obvious strategy for primary schools. Secondary schools may need to do a little pooling to get this done. There is one reason why you should do it – because few schools do it! High energy, massive impact!
5. New teacher orientation to the community.....or at least a walk around the community. It’s great to see many school now include information about their families in their new staff orientation programs. It’s also useful for new staff to do a neighbourhood walk. Not only do they learn a lot about the community firsthand, but it’s fantastic PR as well.
6. Conduct ‘good teaching’ workshops. Help parents understand what good teaching and learning looks like by conducting workshops about the latest teaching strategies.
There are many ways to engage parents in the life of the school. Focus on relationship-building and activities that link parents to their children’s learning.......and spend your time and precious resources on activities that have the maximum impact. That will help you build truly outstanding your family-school partnerships.