The Bulletin Board | Educators for Excellence

Educators for Excellence | December 2019

The holiday season is all about coming together (especially sugar and butter in some sort of delicious baked concoction. Like this blackberry slump). 

But for school districts, that needs to happen year-round.

It takes a village to raise a child. 

Collaboration with students, families, and community members is the best way to find sustainable solutions to a district or school’s challenges and best support kids. And well-executed engagement programs and practices can boost student achievement and improve schools.

But so many of our schools struggle to authentically and effectively engage stakeholders. Reaching beyond your classroom walls, or letting others in, can be hard (80% of you agreed in last month’s survey). But educators rarely get enough help to do it. Only 17% of teachers said their prep program prepared them to engage parents and guardians in student learning “very well” and 27% of teachers selected “family engagement” as one of their top three areas in which they would like to have additional PD and support.

With school staff so often swamped with other responsibilities, connecting with families can become another item on everyone’s already lengthy to-do list. This results in efforts to bring people in that are quick or convenient, rather than a strategic approach tailored to meet the needs of the school’s unique community. 

E4E teachers have an idea worth reading.

In E4E-Boston’s latest policy paper, published this year, teachers advocate for districts to establish a role in every school dedicated to family and community involvement. This position could reduce barriers to meaningful family and community engagement and create a network beyond one school that spreads best practices to help everyone do what’s best for students.

The role would be dedicated, first and foremost, to engaging families and the community. This dream team could diagnose and address the issues unique to each school and child, and then take on the work to overcome them. This approach has made a positive impact in New York City, which has parent coordinators in most of their schools

Student stakeholders, assemble!

For Patrick Synan, having a parent coordinator has made a huge impact on his students. He practically gushes over her in this month’s Chalk Talk: “Nina is one of the kindest people I know, filling our halls with an endless supply of energy and a radical sense of practical idealism. She gets people clothes who need clothes, food who need food, and helps students who have the time, resources, and spirit to put those things back into our school or those who just need a hand. She is the axis of the school community.”

Make no mistake, coming together isn’t always easy.

The recent Chicago teacher strike is a testament to that. Throughout the strike, our teachers reached out to everyone at the bargaining table (the union and the district) to prioritize solutions that would bring resources and staff where they are most needed. Now as school communities come back together, there is the opportunity to leverage the strengths and expertise of a whole community to make our schools a better place for kids and educators. 

Take a moment during this winter break to think of the parents and community members that you could reach out to and collaborate with -- maybe even invite them over for some of that blackberry slump.

In the meantime, a very happy holidays from all of us at E4E!

 

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