My goal is to reflect as often as possible throughout this process so I'm constantly thinking about how to move Swansboro Middle forward in creating partnerships. While I was reading Epstein's (2008) Handbook last night, several thoughts came to mind. I need to target my initial action research in one area of parent involvement. Having too many initiatives at one time would be overwhelming to the staff and work against institutionalization. I foresee communication being the area of focus. I'd like to have some teachers write notes home to a few students' parents weekly. Another possibility is having students lead parent conferences. Our teachers meet with parents when there is a Personalized Education Plan (PEP) in place. PEPs are for those students at-risk of failing a course and/or their grade. The student-led conferences require students to have a binder of their work and be able to explain their progress during the reporting period to their parents. Teachers are there to answer questions and extend answers if necessary. It puts the responsibility of completing work and being able to articulate progress on the student while engaging the parents in a conversation about academics. One of the articles in Epstein's Handbook told about a school that enforced this method gradually. Teachers were asked to choose a few students to do this with initially and decide as a team how to carry out the conferences. Over time, more teachers began to adopt the idea and they tweaked the process along the way based on the experiences they had with the students and the parents. Overall, the teachers felt the relationships they built with the students and parents throughout the process was valuable and encouraged the students to complete their work in a timely manner; they knew there would be accountability for their actions.
Epstein, J. & Associates. (2008). School, family, and community partnerships: Your handbook for action(3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, Ca.: Corwin Press.