Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Core Beliefs

Change is easy. You go first. ~ Wisdom of Anonymous
If we are serious about engaging families for student success, and if we do not take our families' involvement for granted, we will want to improve family engagement practice in the most authentic ways. When schools work with and engage families, those families become powerful partners, allies, and advocates. Family engagement matters.

These 4 Core Beliefs are found in Chapter 3 of Beyond the Bake Sale; by placing them at the heart of family-school partnerships, the authors promote and affirm the valuable role of families, so necessary for all students to achieve academic proficiency - and beyond.
Core Belief 1: All parents have dreams for their children and want the best for them. When we take the time to hear from parents directly about their hopes and dreams for their children, it deepens the relationship. How often do schools take the time to hear  directly from parents about the dreams for their children? How do teachers adjust their practice to accommodate student/family goals each day? Each week? Month? Year? Schools must be intentional in their approach to building relationships with families. 
Core Belief 2: All parents have the capacity to support their children's learning. Do we believe this? Or do we think families do not have time to come in or care to contribute? If all parents have the capacity to support their children's learning, and we support parents, children's learning will improve.
Core Belief 3: Parents and school staff should be equal partners. When you think about it, schools belong to the community and families. Schools must tap into parents' expertise of their children. True partnership is essential. Achieving student and school success will be impossible unless all stakeholders are valued for their contributions, and schools make themselves available and are willing to commit to that goal.
Core Belief 4: The responsibility for building partnerships between school and home rests primarily with school staff, especially school leaders. Of course. Principals set the tone in the school, co-constructing roles based on shared responsibility and understanding of the complementary roles of families and communities.
Family engagement is the third leg of the stool that holds the child in the center and lifts her up (family, school, community). If families do not know what their child is learning and doing in class, and the school is unaware of the family's hopes and dreams for their child, how will they be able to help her achieve her vision of success? Families, communities, and schools must acknowledge their shared responsibility for every child's success—and it is up to the school to lead the way.

Image credit: Ground-breaking workbook for families and school leaders to read together by Anne T. Henderson, Karen L. Mapp, Vivian R. Johnson, and Don Davies.