The Best Sources Of Parent Engagement Advice For Teachers

I’ve posted many resources providing parent engagement for teachers, and thought I’d bring them all together in a “The Best….” list. The resources listed here provide practical advice to teachers. You can see all my parent engagement-related “The Best” lists here.

Here are my picks for The Best Sources Of Parent Engagement Advice For Teachers:

You can read my article in Teacher Magazine, What ‘Star Wars’ Can Teach Educators About Parent Engagement, without having to register first at this link.

Maybe This Is Why Attacking Teachers Is So Popular…And Why It’s So Important To Speak Positively About Our Students is the title of a post I’ve written at my other blog.

Parent Teacher Conference Dos and Don’ts offers some very helpful advice to teachers. It’s from New York State United Teachers.

Parent Communication: TO vs WITH is another excellent post about parent engagement from Chris Wejr.

How to Reach Out to Parents of ELLs is an article from Colorin Colorado that offers some useful advice.

Communicating With Parents is a nice column by teacher by teacher Gail Tillery.

“Meet The Parents” is a nice blog post by teacher Jason Renshaw offering some practical advice for teachers trying to connect to parents.

Making a Strong Home-School Connection by Being Culturally Responsive is from ASCD, and lists twelve helpful hints for educators.

Building Positive Relationships with Parents in School-Age Programs is a short article that offers some good basic advice.

I’m a big advocate of teachers and administrators call parents when kids are doing well — not just when there’s a problem. You can read a post I’ve written titled “Mr. Ferlazzo, I Need My Post-It, Too” to give you one example of the enormous impact a call like that can have on a family. Another great example can be found in Chris Wejr’s post over at Connected Principals. It’s titled Power of Positivity: The Friday 5. He tells about an effort that he and his vice principal make to call five parents each Friday with positive news. He includes a wonderful “transcript” of one.

How Parent-Friendly is Your Campus? is a useful post in Ed Week by Stephanie Sandifer. In the broader scheme of genuine parent engagement, I think there are far more important things that schools should be putting their energy into — like home visits and helping parents respond to neighborhood problems that affect both them and the school. However, many of the suggestions made in the post are pretty easy to do and can help parents feel welcome.

Parent–Teacher Conference Tip Sheets (Hojas de Consejos Para Las Reuniones de Padres y Maestros) are two hand-outs — one in English and one in Spanish — that “are designed to support educators and families in conducting productive, successful parent-teacher conferences.” They’re from the Harvard Family Research Project.

Teaching Secrets: The Parent Meet and Greet is the title of a useful article for teachers as Back-To-School Night approaches. It appeared in Teacher Magazine, and is written by one of my very talented colleagues in the Teacher Leaders Network, Marsha Ratzel.

Kenneth J. Bernstein has written a great column in Education Week titled “Teaching Secrets: Phoning Home.” At the beginning of each year, he calls the parents of all of his students.

The Alliance For A Better Community, a Los Angeles community organization, has published Engaging Parents in Pico-Union: A Manual for Educators by Educators. It’s a downloadable PDF of ideas that teachers in that L.A. neighborhood offered on how they engage/involve parents.

Edutopia has published a free downloadable “Home-to-School Connections Guide.”

Parents Shouldn’t Have to Talk Educationalese is a useful post from Peter DeWitt at Education Week.

“We need to make sure we use words that will build relationships not walls” is the last line of a post titled Hey, That’s My Kid You’re Talking About! It provides some good advice on how teachers speak with parents.

Building Trust With Parents is another excellent post by Chris Wejr.

Ideas to Increase Parent Communication in Schools is a very useful blog post by Eric Sheninger.

Parent Meetings: Bypassing the Dance of Blame is an excellent article by my Teacher Leaders Network colleague Dave Orphal.

Class Dismissed! Parent Communication Tips for ….. Younger Teachers is a very good article by Roxanna Elden, one of the best writers around.

I was the guest at #PTchat on Twitter to discuss the topic “Partnering With ESL/ELL Families.” The chat has been archived at Storify here, and contains a fair amount of useful information.

Words Of Wisdom That Teachers & Administrators Might Want To Keep In Mind

Engaging English Language Learner Families

Another Reason Why We Need To Be Careful How We Speak To Parents About Their Children
is a lengthy post I wrote about some recent research. If you’ve every called home about a student who was having a problem in class, I’d encourage you to read it.

“Four Ways to Increase Parental Efficacy” is from The Family Linkages Project.

It’s short, to the point, and helpful. It’s suggestions include:

Promote successful personal experiences for family members.

Help family members learn from others and each other.

Always offer encouragement,

Focus on emotional well-being and stress reduction.

The Power of the Positive Phone Call Home is a new blog post at Edutopia by one of my favorite bloggers, Elena Aguilar.

4 Ways We Can Connect With Parents is a very, very useful post from George Couros. It’s a definite “must read.”

Heidi Hass Gable has written a useful blog post containing advice to teachers about parent engagement. Here are two of her recommendations:

4) Listen to parents and listen to what they DON’T say. They may not articulate their concerns very well because fears and insecurities cloud their words/thinking. But whenever a parent is something with you, look for the underlying concern or question. Look for the unspoken. Read between the lines. But don’t assume – revert to asking questions again, if needed!

5) Be curious and open to new ways of thinking. Parents have a different experience and different point of view from the other teachers you spend most of your time with. They will see things differently, and that may be beneficial! Even when you think they “don’t understand” so would have nothing to add…

The Dicey Parent-Teacher Duet is another nice article in The New York Times by Sara Mosle.

Here’s how it begins:

The teacher-parent relationship is a lot like an arranged marriage. Neither side gets a lot of say in the match. Both parties, however, great responsibility for a child, which can lead to a deeply rewarding partnership or the kind of conflict found in some joint-custody arrangements.

Rethinking Difficult Parents is a nice post from Edutopia about a challenge that most teachers have to face during their careers. It offers some helpful advice.

Building Parent-Teacher Partnerships is a resource page from the American Federation of Teachers, and has some helpful info.

How To Connect With Families is a useful article in the summer issue of ASCD Educational Leadership. It’s by well-known parent engagement research Anne Henderson and Melissa Whipple. It includes some excellent suggestions.

Twenty Tips for Developing Positive Relationships with Parents is an older Edutopia blog post from Elena Aguilar which I just discovered. It’s a good one.

When a new school year starts, sending a letter home is a typical teacher activity.

Here are a few resources offering ideas for what to put in letters educators can send home to parents to start the year:

Joe Mazza has a Google Doc full of ideas.

Dear Parents… The Message I Send Home Prior To the First Day is from Matt Gomez.

9 Suggestions for the Welcome Back to School letter from the Principal is from Jonathan Martin.

My Beginning of the Year Parent Questionnaire is from Pernille Ripp.

What Message Are We Sending In Our First Contact With Parents? is a great post by Principal Chris Wejr.

Here’s an excerpt:

Although ongoing communication WITH parents/families helps the school, the students, and the families… it is also important that at this time of year, we work hard to lay the foundation and make that first communication with families a positive one. It is also a great opportunity to our story of who we are as teachers and to find out who our students are as children. Let’s our stories and listen to the stories of our families. Let’s work together as parents and educators to make that first meeting or phone call a positive, effective one.

Q & A Collections: Parent Engagement In Schools is my newest post over at Education Week Teacher.

It brings all my posts on…parent engagement together in one place.

5 Tips for Engaging Parent Volunteers in the Classroom is a useful post from Edutopia.

The Dos and Don’ts of Back-to-School Night is a good post with wise advice for teachers from Abner Oakes.

Here are just two of his points:

1. Don’t ask us to fill out a handout that asks questions such as, “Is there anything that you’d like to with me about your child?” Are we supposed to be listening to the teacher during the short time that we’re in the classroom or filling out this sheet? If a teacher really wants this info, send it home with us, so that we can do a thoughtful job.

2. As one parent said to me about these kinds of evenings, “I want to leave excited about the learning that’s happening, not about the mechanics.” And so don’t spend time talking about grading policy. That’s no doubt somewhere on the school’s or teacher’s website. When teachers spend time on this topic and not on an excited-about-learning topic, a clear message is sent to us: Grades are more important than the teaching and learning.

12 Conversation Starters on What Parents Want You (Teachers) to Know is a useful post by Joe Mazza at Edutopia. It’s sort of a companion to the USA article where several of us what teachers wanted parents to know.

Refining the Weekly Class Newsletter is an article at Choice Literacy about how one teacher and class used a…newsletter as a parent involvement tool.

Good Teachers Embrace Their Students’ Cultural Background is an article from The Atlantic.

Here’s an excerpt:

Culturally responsive teaching doesn’t mean lowering standards, Irvine says. Take dialect, for example. Teachers need to help students speak and write in Standard English, but they’ll be more successful in that effort if they begin by respecting the way a student and his family speak at home.

Creating a link between home and school can enrich all kinds of lessons. Teachers can ask their students to interview their communities and condense the information into a letter to the mayor. Parents can be invited into the classroom to talk about their work. Students can be asked to think critically about articles and texts, exploring them for signs of cultural bias.

How to Guide Parents in Homework Help is an article at ASCD Educational Leadership by Cathy Vatterott, who knows more about homework research than just about anyone.

It offers some excellent and practical advice.

Parents and Relationships is the title of a very good post by Steve Vessey, Superintendent of the Beaver Dam Unified School District.

8 Tips for Reaching Out to Parents is a very good list of suggestions by educator David Cutler that has been published by Edutopia.

Here is one of his suggestions:

6. Call Home to Report Good News

Parents rarely receive a positive call home. Twice a semester, I make a point to call and tell them how impressed I am with something their student did or said. It surprises me when parents nervously answer the phone, as if a student did something wrong. They are all the more relieved and proud when I have just good news to report. These calls let parents know that I care as much about recognizing success and improvement as I do about spotting struggle and weakness. These calls also reassure parents that I’m not out to make life more difficult for their child, that I’m fair in my assessments and feedback, and that I genuinely want to see students succeed.

19 Proven Tips for Getting Parents Involved at School is a useful slideshow created by Edutopia.

Spike Cook has written a nice blog post reflecting on Todd Whitaker’s article, Dealing With Difficult Parents.

Engaging And Communicating With Parents: A Teacher Guide looks like a great five-part Education Week Teacher series organized by the Center For Teaching Quality.

“Here Are Text Messages We’re Sending Home To ELL Students & Parents – Share Your Ideas”

How to Be an Effective Ally to Parents is from Edudemic, and offers some very good suggestions for how teachers can engage well with parents.


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