Sunday, April 26, 2015

Surveys, Initial ATP meeting, and more...

Asking parents to voluntarily complete a survey during our registration nights proved to be fruitful.  Ultimately, I had 234 parents complete the survey and they added candid responses to the open ended questions.  Their feedback will be vital to this project and will drive our next actions as an ATP to develop activities for the 2015-2016 school year.  SBMS teachers were asked to voluntarily complete a survey on their opinion of parent involvement, strategies they've used that worked well, and ways we can improve in that area as a school; a total of 44 teachers responded.  I was elated with this response rate, especially considering the length of the survey.  They also answered all or almost all questions within each survey even though this was not required.

The initial ATP (Action Team for Partnerships) meeting confirmed my belief that I have the right people on the right committee.  I sent an email to the entire staff recruiting members who felt they were passionate about parent involvement, wanted to see improvement, and felt they would be committed to the project.  This message reached those who fit the profile.  A total of six teachers, including a social worker responded.  The team represents almost every grade level, enrichment, the exceptional needs team, and student services.   The team has strengths in many areas to include parent rapport, passion for involvement, resource availability, knowledge of our lowest socio-economic students and what their needs are, and many other talents to help us move forward.  The first meeting lasted almost two hours.  We were so engaged in the information, the current state of SBMS and the parents, their needs, and our next steps, that time slipped away from us.  Initially, I had planned to meet for one hour.  No one even noticed it had gotten so late.  I met with teachers and the social worker first and had planned on bringing parents to the next meeting; however, we decided that choosing our parents intentionally and carefully would be a tedious process.  The team decided to target the four geographical areas of our school district in order to recruit parents that represent our population.  They also decided that going into the community would be the best way to get higher participation and to make parents see that we are interested in giving them a voice.  The next meeting was scheduled for the following week to finalize plans for parent recruitment, meeting locations, and times.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Education Week Webinar

Education Week continually has relevant offerings including articles, website links, and webinars that speak to current issues in education.  Most recently, they have a webinar entitled "Leaders to Learn From: Parents as Partners in Improving Student Achievement."  EW promises to present innovative ideas for engaging parents in the curriculum and school community.  Key speakers, Patricia Spradley and Tracy Hill, will take us through many opportunities that touch on the six types of parent involvement Epstein says are important to reaching the maximum amount of parents.  Some examples EW says they implement on a routine basis are homework help, college applications, GED classes, and knitting.  I'm excited about the upcoming event.  If you'd like to join the conversation, please follow the link below and register.

Education Week Webinar Registration

Monday, April 13, 2015

Social Media to Reach Families

I recently attended ASCD's annual conference in Houston, TX, and was blown away by the vast amount of information out there on reaching families.  Twitter and Facebook seemed to be the most widely used means of communicating with parents and students.  SBMS currently uses both of these to disseminate information and I was thinking beyond the username we have to link us with a particular hashtag, such as #pirateproud.  I envisioned many creative ways to include the students on this to spread positive things about our school.  When I returned from the conference, I began talking with students, informally, on their use of Twitter. What I found out was disheartening, they're not big on the Twitter scene.  Apparently, that is a platform most high school students use.... bummer.

On the bright side, they are big Facebookers, so I'll continue to use that to spread information and share good news.  I also intend to teach these students how to spread some of their own good news and encourage them to share those things on our page, requiring my position to post something before it immediately goes to our page, of course.