What are some of the suggestions given in “The Principal’s Role in Improving and Sustaining Parent Involvement?” Which would work best for you and your school? Tell why you think these suggestions are worthwhile and how you would put them into action. Suggest your own techniques that work for you.
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In the article MacNeil and Patin share some information that is critical when developing an effective parent involvement plan, like there is no “cookie cutter” approach to for parental support. As school leaders design and implement the most effective programs they can for their schools, this idea of not having a one size fits all approach to recruiting parental support is a very useful piece of advice. It comes as no shock that each school, and often, each school district come with its own set of needs. To address these specific needs parents should have “knowledge of the norms and values… before a plan is agreed upon by the stakeholders of the school” (MacNeil & Patin, 2005). Another interesting notion highlighted in the article is that parents who volunteer to read to students and assist with tutoring are near the lowest rung on the ladder of potential activities for parent involvement. These are critical elements to the overall mission of improving student achievement, but they fall way down on the list of priorities when one considers how much of an impact is made when “parents make their student accountable for homework, supply them a good study environment and make sure that they attend school every day.” (MacNeil & Patin, 2005).
Perhaps the most beneficial piece of advice offered in the article is for school leaders, teachers, and parents to establish goals together and communicate to clarify expectations before building a plan for effective parent involvement. At Florence High School, the involvement of numerous parents is incredible and most likely to an extent that is nearly unrivaled. The parents in and around the Florence community take tremendous care of the high school faculty and staff. The core group of approximately ten parents recruits others to get involved in the planning and implementation of support for the faculty in numerous ways. However, in recent years
school and district leadership have noticed an epidemic with absenteeism among their students. Therefore, although not many high schools experience the level of support to the extent of Florence High there is still work to be done on the highest level of parent involvement.
One idea suggested in the article for improving the parent and school connection is establishing a primary connection between the teachers and parents is extremely effective. Educators need to extend the first communication to parents so they have knowledge of what is expected of the students academically and behaviorally in their classrooms. Parents become partners in helping their children to meet the level of expectations if they are knowledgeable of these expectations. “By establishing a relationship with parents early in the year a foundation is built for future involvement.” (MacNeil & Patin, 2005). It is paramount that teachers and administrators use a variety of modes of communication to maintain open dialogue with their parents. One piece of advice listed by the authors is showing appreciation for all efforts to volunteer on the part of the parts no matter the size of the contribution.
Two ways that faculty and administration in Florence City Schools reach out to communicate with our parents is Coffee with the Principal and our Career and Technical Education Advisory Committees. Coffee with the Principal is a monthly meeting conducted by Florence High School principal (or her designee on some occasions) with all parents that wish to attend. The meetings take place on the second Tuesday morning of each month and last for approximately an hour. These meetings are used to keep parents informed about important events and activities, and new initiatives that are underway in and around the school. These meetings are a great time for parents to ask questions, and set up conferences with the principal to discuss other school-related items. New attendees to these meetings can sign up for weekly email updates from the principle that also shares many of the same important facts that one will receive at the meeting. The Career Technical Education Advisory Committee is a requirement for teachers to remain certified under business and industry program evaluations conducted by the state department of education. Parents that choose to serve as a program committee member gain
firsthand knowledge of every facet of a career tech program that their children may choose to enroll in. Every committee member is required to attend two meeting per year, however, teachers and the Career Tech Director has established weekly emails to committee members so they remain abreast of changes and acknowledgments that take place in the program area they serve. Advisory Committee members have input into the curriculum, equipment, and funding that their Career Tech program encompasses. If something in the program needs to be addressed, it is the parents serving on an advisory committee that can ensure it is done.