Up Close: Supporting the Academic Parent-Teacher Team (APTT) Model

March 10, 2017 01:27 PM
by / Topics: Improving Family Engagement

Flamboyan builds the capacity of educators to partner with families in support of students’ academic success.  However, we also recognize that families must play different, age-appropriate roles throughout a child’s academic journey.2

Last week, we reviewed Flamboyan’s definition of effective family engagement.  This week, we’ll begin to dive into the way our family engagement framework actually lives out in the work we do across the academic continuum, and specifically with the Academic Parent-Teacher Team (APTT) meeting model.  With the perspectives of Flamboyan staff, as well as a teacher leader from the Family Engagement Leadership Team (FELT), an early childhood education (ECE) teacher, and the parent of an ECE student at one of our new schools this year – Patterson Elementary School in southwest D.C. – we hope to elevate how we work with our partners in support of academic partnering and APTT.

Our Family Engagement Partnership develops educators and school leaders into practitioners of effective family engagement and trains them to employ academic partnering strategies in an impactful way.  In the elementary space, academic partnering primarily takes the form of Academic Parent-Teacher Team (APTT) meetings.  In middle school, our school partners primarily collaborate with families through Student-Led Conferences (SLCs).  In elementary to high school contexts, we also empower teachers to hold goal-setting Parent-Teacher Conferences (PTCs), which allow for the sharing of student data, academic strategies, and progress tracking.

As of school year 2016-2017, our elementary school partners include: eight public charter schools, 23 public schools, and four education campuses.  By joining the Family Engagement Partnership (FEP), schools like Patterson made a commitment to academic partnering and opened their doors to receiving guidance around implementing strategies like the APTT model.

Understanding the APTT Model

APTT bullet list

Defining the Family Engagement Leadership Team (FELT)

Family Engagement Leadership Teams (FELTs) are designed to meet the needs of the FEP and the school’s staff, and clear roles and responsibilities are assigned to each FELT member, so that there is investment in the process.

Attending Academic Partnering Bootcamp

Schools accepted into the FEP designate the FELT to attend an Academic Partnering (AP) Bootcamp.  The Bootcamp is a 3-hour session that takes place over summer, and it gives school leaders an overview of the different types of academic partnering that we support – APTTs, SLCs, and PTCs.  This introduction to academic partnering equips schools with knowledge about each strategy to help determine the direction for the various grade levels.

Preparing for Academic Partnering

In the late summer and early fall, partner schools determine the academic partnering strategies that they will practice.  Patterson, for example, serves children from pre-kindergarten through sixth grade.  After determining the strategies, FELTs assist their schools’ teachers with registering for Flamboyan’s trainings on the effective family engagement strategies selected.

Working with Trainers

Trainings for FEP teachers are either facilitated by Flamboyan trainers or teacher trainers.  Teacher trainers use their valuable experience in schools to reinforce how effective family engagement improves outcomes for kids.


Working with Coaches

FELTs also work in collaboration with a School Partnerships Coach at Flamboyan. Coaches serve as thought-partners for FELTs.  They help school leadership teams think through developing teacher capacity, changing mindsets, and using data to reflect on progress.


Planning for Academic Partnering

With the assistance of Flamboyan’s staff and trainers, educators and school leaders begin to plan for APTTs, PTCs, and/or SLCs.  FELTs have recurring meetings to touch base on family engagement efforts and coordinate logistics for their teachers.  For APTT meetings, Flamboyan provides guidance around measuring success and evaluating the meetings using quality indicators, such as whether teachers shared data on student progress or whether translation was provided at meetings with non-native English-speaking families.

As an elementary FEP school approaches the academic partnering season, FELTs develop materials to help families support learning at home, lead outreach efforts to families, and ensure that preparations for the APTT are being made in teachers’ classrooms.


Conducting and Participating in an APTT Meeting

During an APTT meeting, an educator will host a meeting with the family members of all the children they teach at that grade level.  The APTT meeting’s main objectives are to empower parents to:

  • Explain their role and responsibilities in supporting their child’s academic progress
  • Name the key academic skills (two different foundational skills reviewed per APTT meeting) for their child’s grade-level and explain why those skills are important
  • Explain their child’s progress on those key skills (two foundational skills per APTT)
  • Practice learning activities which reinforce their child’s education at home, and
  • Set a rigorous goal for their child’s academic progress.

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1APTT meetings, therefore, are where teachers build relationships with families by informing them of the important foundational skills for their child’s success, as well as setting aside time for data-sharing, instructional activity practice, and group and individual goal-setting and reflection.  In Ms. Eastlack’s pre-kindergarten APTT at Patterson, parents were given manipulatives – colorful counting bears – to help them work on exercising the foundational skill of classification with their children at home.  By demonstrating the activity of sorting the bears and even showing the parents a video of their children doing the activity, Ms. Eastlack provided families with a way to enhance children’s learning outside of the classroom.

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Flamboyan’s family engagement work in D.C. aims to produce catalytic and sustainable results to education’s most intractable challenges, so that children most impacted by inequity thrive.  Through our Family Engagement Partnership, we support school leaders and educators to actively improve educational outcomes for children through trusting, results-driven collaboration between teachers and families.  The APTT model works well in the elementary space, but check back next week to learn about Student-Led Conferences in the middle school context.