Intro to What I Learned at #PTcamp

Sometimes we forget. We don't mean to, but we forget that our children are whole children who come to and from school from families and communities.

But, what if we didn't forget? And what if we engaged parents as partners, allies, and advocates in children's education at home and at school?

Because more than 40 years of research shows that when families are engaged in their child's learning, that child does better. And this holds true regardless of a parent's level of education, country of origin, or socioeconomic status.

So, why do so many schools struggle to engage families? And does it really matter how family-friendly your schools are?

These were some of the questions I had in mind this summer when I participated in #PTcamp: a free and open, virtual bookchat spanning 10 time zones and involving more than 100 educators and parents. Together we read Beyond the Bake Sale: the essential guide to family-school partnershipsEach week we read a couple of chapters, then using some digital tools (including blogs, Twitter, Voxer, and ApprenNet), we engaged, reflected, challenged, and provoked each other's thinking - for learning.

Bake Sale not only connected all of us globally, it got us thinking about the best ways to authentically engage families for student success. By placing family engagement at the heart of school partnerships, the authors promote these 4 Core Beliefs:
  1. All parents have dreams for their children and want the best for them;
  2. All parents have the capacity for supporting their children's learning;
  3. Parents and schools should be equal partners;
  4. Responsibility for building these partnerships rests primarily with school staff, especially school leaders.
Then, the authors point the way through an analysis of four partnership models, using five essential metrics by which to gauge how well schools:
  • Build Relationships
  • Link to Learning
  • Address Differences
  • Support Advocacy
  • and Share Power
My next blog posts will outline the four partnership models discussed in the book - I am so curious to know what will look familiar to you!