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This Wednesday, 3/21/12 #PTchat continues as we take a look at the “welcoming and supportive environments” we have set up in our schools for families.
Listening to family engagement guru Karen Mapp during a webinar earlier this November, she mentioned several conditions that must be in place before true family engagement can take place. One condition shared was that schools must invite engagement as well as welcome, honor, and connect families to learning or engage in the “joining process.” She went on to describe an overarching goal of creating a school where “everyone feels like members of a family.”
The school lobby is a key area for schools to harbor our schools’ family engagement structures.
When parents and/or family members walk in the front door of the school, what is the first thing they see and hear? Put on the lens of your parent population. How has the school lobby been designed or redesigned to respond to your population of parents? How have you gathered this information?
Principals, when was the last time you walked your building and asked yourself, do I have the most “welcoming environment” possible for my families? Have you ever asked a parent what one thing could make it more “family-friendly” to them?
|Image Credit: http://www.mansfieldschool.com/|
Are there resources set up especially for new families, or only when someone asks? How about immigrant and/or ESL families? Could someone who didn’t speak or understanding English walk into your school and feel welcomed before the secretary or principal even said a word to them? We’ll discuss things like community information, technology support, recognitions, volunteer areas, mission, goals and more and why there should be a purpose for everything found in your school lobby.
Parents, teachers, principals: Please bring your ideas, strengths and challenges as we hone in on what school lobbies should look like to engage as many families as possible on a daily basis.
For more information on how to join a #PTchat, please visit the #PTchat archive/information page.
Mapp, K. 2003. “Having their say: Parents describe why and how they are engaged in their children’s education.” School Community Journal, Vol.13, No. 1.
Webinar – Bringing It All Together: Family and Community Engagement Policies in Action, November 16, 2011. Harvard Family Research Project (HFRP).