Setting the Stage for Effective Family Engagement

March 2, 2017 02:49 PM
by / Topics: Improving Family Engagement

In Washington, D.C., Flamboyan facilitates active partnerships between families and educators in support of student success.  We learned that bridging the gap between home and school is a valuable connection to foster during a child’s academic journey.  Through a landscape assessment, focus group interviews with more than 150 D.C. families, a review of the research, and first-haFramework Pyramidnd knowledge from practitioners in schools, we developed a framework for teacher-family partnerships.

Key to the launch of our work in D.C. were focus group findings from 2008 revealing a disconnect between how families and educators felt regarding their relationships.  Families expressed feeling “unwelcome” and/or “disrespected at schools,” and educators doubted families’ capacity to support learning at home and struggled to engage them in an effective way.

Broken relationships between school and home can limit a child’s achievement.  In response, Flamboyan grounded its work in building trusting relationships between families and educators.  Once trusting relationships have been established, families and educators can begin the academic partnering process, sharing information to accelerate student learning.  Finally, we recognize the importance of ongoing communication that continuously keeps families informed and is individualized to fit each family’s needs.

Our programs are driven by the family engagement framework, which articulates our approach and supports the five roles that families play that predict student achievement.  A review of the research shows that when parents play these five roles, their children have better educational outcomes:Five ROles (2)

  1. Communicate high expectations
  2. Monitor their child’s performance
  3. Support learning at home
  4. Guide their child’s education
  5. Advocate for their child

Flamboyan’s family engagement efforts help teachers and school administrators partner with families so that they’re empowered to play these five roles and support their child’s learning.  Through the Family Engagement Partnership (FEP) with D.C. public and public charter schools at the elementary and middle school level, Alternative Certification Program trainings, Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), learning partnerships, and the National Family Engagement Fellowship, we catalyze meaningful change toward more mutually-equipped and mutually-accountable relationship-building between families and schools.

Flamboyan defines effective family engagement as the partnership between educators and families that improves student outcomes. Specifically, Flamboyan believes that effective family engagement:

  • Ensures families have the school partner and information they need to bolster student success
  • Is founded on a trusting relationship between families and educators
  • Creates a balance of power in the relationship between educators and families
  • Requires educators to examine their assumptions about families
  • Pays attention to how issues of systemic inequity affect student success
  • Is focused on outcomes and results

This understanding of family engagement, as well as an assets-based approach that acknowledges families as experts in their child’s learning and development, is essential to engaging all families.

Next week, we’ll spotlight Academic Parent-Teacher Team (APTT) Meetings and you’ll see how Flamboyan works with schools to implement this effective family engagement strategy.