10 Step Family Engagement Plan
The most effective way to get the word out about Project Appleseed's Parent Engagement Pledge is to use it in all parts of your school outreach. Make the Parent Engagement Pledge an integral point of reference for all that you do in your schools. In this way, all partners will understand how their commitments and their actions contribute to improved student learning with high-impact family engagement. Passing out the Parent Engagement Pledge to parents once and hoping for the best -- seldom works!
There are three essential aspects of parent engagement — connect, engage and sustain. Using your Pledge is the critical step that moves the compact from planning to action, from paper to partnership with parents. First, people need to know about the Parent Engagement Pledge--what it is and how they can get involved. Launching the Parent Engagement Pledge is a great opportunity to create new partnerships and to reach out to families and community members who have not been involved at the school before. When it comes to "Get-Out-The-Pledge" or "GOTP" efforts, there are a number of popular tactics schools use to get families engaged with the Pledge. Some steps may not apply to your school or district.
Successful school-family partnerships require the sustained mutual collaboration, support, and participation of school staffs and families. If families are to work with schools as full partners in the education of their children, schools must provide them with the opportunities and support they need for success.
GOTP is just one part of your family engagement strategy, but like all aspects, it’s overseen by a committee of educators, staff family and community volunteers which may include:
School Secretary (Highly recommended)
Parents group leaders
Teachers and staff
District communications staff
Title I directors and staff
School counselor / Social Workers
Business leaders, clergy, senior citizens, law enforcement etc.etc…
Engage with Project Appleseed’s family engagement tools
1. The Parent Engagement Pledge
Almost every day, citizens are urged to lend a hand at schools. Educators welcome volunteers, but we all know that good volunteer programs don't happen by accident. Schools that are most successful in engaging parents and other family members in support of their children's learning look beyond traditional definitions of parent involvement-participating in a parent teacher organization or signing quarterly report cards-to a broader conception of parents as full partners in the education of their children.
2. Parent Engagement Report Card
The Parent Engagement Report Card is a self-diagnostic tool complementary tool to the Parental Involvement Pledge. It is intended to help parents rate their contributions to their child's success at school. Use these 31 questions as a guide to discover some of the ways that you can help your child at home and at school. The results will be emailed to you and will never be shared or sold.
3. Welcome families with the Red Carpet Treatment
The Red Carpet Treatment tool is our family friendly walk through process and it is part of the Family Engagement Toolbox. The Red Carpet Treatment is an opportunity to meet as a team in order to identify ways in which the school can create a more welcoming environment for families. Parents, including parents of children with disabilities, community members, school board members, educators, and administrators are asked to consider looking at the school through the lenses of all of the families who attend that school.
4. Survey Teachers and Staff
One of the first steps in developing a volunteer program is for staff to assess your school’s use of volunteers. You should agree on the reasons for using volunteers and how volunteers fit into the school’s structure. Use the Faculty and Staff Parent Engagement Pledge Volunteer Request in the Parental Involvement Toolbox for teachers and school staff to communicate their need for volunteers. The information should be collected by the person designated by the principal, volunteer coordinator or parent group leader who will record those needs.
5. Create a database of Pledged volunteers
Track and measure the family volunteer time for classrooms and schools. Input all hard copies of the Pledge into the Parent Engagement Pledge Volunteer Database xls (Included in the Family Engagement Toolbox). Project Appleseed will provide member schools Excel spreadsheet so that all volunteers and tasks can be in one database. The Parent Engagement Pledge has an Inventory of Volunteer Interest survey with a list of opportunities that can be shared and collected by the volunteer coordinator. Now its time for your first volunteers to call these parents to remind them to return the Pledge!
6. Contact Pledged volunteers
Thank the volunteer for his or her interest in your school. Provide a brief background of your school and clarify information from the Pledge. Let the parent, grandparent or caring adult discuss his or her background. Explain your schools’s expectations of volunteers (some of this discussion may need to occur after you’ve identified the specific position for the prospect). Ask the volunteer if he or she has any questions or concerns. Agree on the next steps.
7. Establish the process for Volunteering In the School
You might want to consider wether your district requires that volunteers must attend a volunteer orientation to review volunteer needs, roles and responsibilities, volunteer agreements, sign-in logs, fingerprinting and background checks.
8. Support training for teachers and other staff to work effectively with families
Project Appleseed's Traveling Workshop is a one-day session and our Parental Involvement Toolbox Training is two hours - both have highly effective transfer skills and knowledge. Project Appleseed’s workshops and online trainings provide a program for schools and communities that focuses on the techniques and skills in family engagement that has long-term benefits.
9. Awards and Recognition
The school will recognize accomplishments of volunteers in at least one school-wide event and on the school board. Project Appleseed Certificates of Family Engagement for schools and parents are part of the Family Engagement Toolbox.
10. Rinse and Repeat Each Year
Did you get the number of volunteers that you wanted? Repeat this process over and over until it becomes a regular part of your school's culture.
What are three essential aspects of parent engagement?
Connect, engage and sustain.
A dozen ways to engage parents and families
Today, everyone is overwhelmed with information, and many people have trouble listening to any message closely. Experts say that it often takes eight reminders or notices for someone to say finally, "I've heard of that." When spreading the word about the Parent Engagement Pledge and encouraging people to support it, be patient: you can count on having to remind people many times. A Parent Engagement Pledge marketing effort designed to reach all parents/caregivers — several times — will raise awareness about your school's Parent Engagement Pledge drive.
Parent-Teacher Conferences: Discuss student progress during parent-teacher conferences. Explain the school's high academic expectations for all students. The process can begin with the distribution of the Parent Engagement Pledge at parent/teacher conferences. Parent/teacher conferences and meetings must include the Parent Engagement Pledge Compact as it relates to the child’s achievement as required by Title I, Section 1116, (Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015. Parent/teacher conferences shall occur at least annually, during which the compact shall be discussed as the compact relates to the individual child’s achievement.
Teacher home visits: Research has found evidence that teacher home visits could increase student performance, jumpstart parent engagement, reduce discipline problems and increase overall positive attitudes toward school. If done correctly, a home visit program can give teachers, parents and students a better opportunity for connection, communication and collaboration.
Reach out to groups at the right meetings, events and venues: Aim to reach lots of people, especially those who family members who might not be ready to be involved at school or home.