7 ways to rethink school/family partnerships

The current toolbox for growing the school/family partnership is broken. It is a system built on old communication methods, inequitable access, and ineffective gatherings. This leaves the support and synergy between home and school less than optimal in most situations. The old open house, parent conference, and PTO model leaves all parties disappointed around an essential partnership needed to support students through the growing complexities of school and life. Instead of doing the same things marginally better, schools and districts should look to these seven ways to restructure their commitment to robust partnerships with families.

1. Acknowledge that old mental models exist
Schools need to acknowledge that there are a variety of old mental models of learning and traditional schooling that parents bring to the table. Some parents remember their success, but others remember the negative adults and failure from their school career. Both of these mental models can make it difficult for parents to understand the modern classroom and the complexity of today’s schools. As leaders, it is important to explicitly talk about the lenses that parents bring with them in support of their child. Doing so allows for a sense of connection and understanding from the beginning.

2. Unearth a dynamic set of barriers impacting deeper partnership
All schools struggle to deepen their partnerships with families. These barriers can include time, language, and modes of communication. Schools looking to rewrite their partnership playbook need to examine every possible barrier and consider which families are impacted by the barrier and what solutions exists for each. Growing in this area also requires meaningful conversations with a full range of parents to unearth barriers that are hard to recognize.…Read More

It’s time to become the storyteller-in-chief for your school

When polled about public perception of K-12 schools in the United States, attendees of the recent edWebinar, “Transform Your School’s Brand by Becoming a Storyteller-In-Chief,” offered mixed results. While there are some positive stories, many seemed to think that there isn’t much faith in public education. Trish Rubin, founder of Trish Rubin Ltd., and co-author with Eric Sheninger of BrandED: Tell Your Story, Build Relationships, and Empower Learning, explained that much of the issue stems from how school leaders tell their story and communicate their brand.

First, Rubin challenged the attendees to think about why brand matters to education. She wasn’t talking about logos or typically generic mission statements, though. What she meant by brand is the emotion, the gut feeling that someone has when they think about your district. Classrooms are no longer ivory towers where students are educated in isolation, she said; they are places where children live and learn for the majority of their lives. Teachers are trying to build a community, and the perception of that community is vital to getting support from the school members and beyond.

Emphasizing the rise of social media, Rubin next talked about how community members are sharing these perceptions and their stories about school. Educators need to be tuned into the “camera culture” and the value of pictures in presenting their brand. If your district’s educators and administrators aren’t doing this, other constituents will without any influence from school or district leadership. Even if the school leadership is putting out news stories, the pictures from the constituents will be the controlling message.…Read More