DC Bilingual Extends Opportunities for Families Through Parent-Teacher Conferences (PTCs)

March 23, 2017 05:35 PM
by / Topics: Improving Family Engagement

This week, we’ll take a look at how our partner school DC Bilingual is innovating around one of the most well-known family engagement practices in schools: Parent-Teacher Conferences (PTCs).  In previous weeks, we’ve discussed our definition of effective family engagement and how we partner with schools to conduct Academic Parent-Teacher Team (APTT) meetings; and last week, we went behind the scenes to show you the impact of Student-Led Conferences (SLCs) at Jefferson Academy.  While APTT meetings and SLCs take place primarily in elementary- and middle-school spaces, respectively, PTCs happen across the pre-K through 12th grade bands.

Flamboyan specifically supports the implementation of goal-setting Parent-Teacher Conferences (PTCs).  Goal-setting PTCs are impactful because they enable teachers and parents to academically partner with the shared intention of improving student outcomes.  PTCs are preplanned and individualized for each student, so that conversations are data-driven and goal-oriented.

During goal-setting PTCs:

– Teachers share actionable data with families about student progress, including strengths and areas for growth

– Teachers share strategies for how families can support student learning at home – and model strategies when possible

– Teachers and families set goals together

DC Bilingual, a public charter school in our Family Engagement Partnership (FEP), has taken the PTC model and expanded upon it to further serve its school community.  On January 23, DC Bilingual hosted its annual Winter Expo and invited families inside ‘La Plaza’ – the school gym – after completing their PTCs.  The event provided a space for increased relationship-building between school and home, as families got to learn more about opportunities for themselves and their children both in the school and in the community.

Here are some of the booths that focused on DC Bilingual’s programs:

Lectoescritura (Literacy)

The Literacy table included examples of books in Spanish and English for every reading level, so that parents could see what the appropriate types of books are for their children.  Next to the grade-level books, there was a section providing resources around sight words.  To help families guide learning at home, DC Bilingual shared folders with instructions about how to support children using a phonics program.


“Each student comes to our table with a ticket saying they need to work on decoding or fluency or comprehension.  Then, based on that, we give them one of these papers [with different strategies for how they can practice reading] and they have different things that they can do at home to improve.” – English as a Second Language (ESL) Specialist, DC Bilingual

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math)

This is the first year that DC Bilingual is introducing the STEM pilot program, and they’re using Project Lead The Way (PLTW) to engage students in hands-on activities.  PLTW is based on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), so the STEM content is aligned to the new science curriculum, too.  At the STEM table, children who accompanied their parents to the Expo could try their hand at creating a robot that drew, in marker, on top of white sheets of paper on the floor.  Batteries, rubber bands, duct tape, and markers were available for them to use.


“My hope [today] was just to be able to get the kids excited about STEM, and give them an opportunity to do a project.  With this, they’re building the robots, and their task is to make a robot that lights up, moves, and draws.  Then, over here on the iPads, we’re teaching the kids coding, which is something that we’re also supporting in our technology classes.” – STEM Coach, DC Bilingual

Nutrición (Nutrition)

The Nutrition Department runs clubs after school and teaches classes about planting, cooking, and nutrition throughout the year.  While the nutrition programs are still relatively new to the school curriculum, staff are embracing the learning opportunities that come with education around food production and consumption.  For example, chart paper by the nutrition table asked students what they wanted to plant this spring.  Children cast their votes in sticky notes, with asparagus leading the way.  The hope is to incorporate the food that children grow into the school food options once the school garden is in production mode.


“Last time we talked all about sugar, so I figured this time we’ll focus more on salt and sodium.  More broadly, if you’re going to eat salty snacks – which we all crave and all really want – then what are some alternatives that actually give you something in return, in addition to flavor?” – Nutrition Department Representative, DC Bilingual

Here are some of the booths that focused on community offerings:

Programa de visitas en casa (HIPPY Home Visiting – The Family Place)

The Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) program was started at The Family Place as a wayto support parents’ involvement in their children’s education – particularly between ages three to five.  The program is 30 weeks long, and it trains parents to conduct learning activities with their children throughout each week.  The HIPPY program in D.C. is also offered in Spanish.

District of Columbia International School (DCI)

DC Bilingual students feed into DC International School (DCI), so DCI representatives were tabling at the Expo to do their own family engagement.  DCI was in attendance to provide useful information to parents about the middle and high school, and give them instructions about how to apply.

“So we have a one-pager, both in English and in Spanish, and then we also have a sample schedule of our classes and some of our activities, just to give parents an idea of what the school day would look like – what their kids would do at DCI.” – Communications Associate, DC International School

Briya Public Charter School

Briya Public Charter School sent a representative to the event so that he could share information that might be valuable to DC Bilingual’s public charter school community.  Briya believes in the two-generation learning approach, and therefore, works to empower both children and their parents.  Through Briya’s partnership with Mary’s Center, there is also an emphasis on ensuring that low-income families and first-generation immigrant families have access to the resources needed to adjust and thrive.

“It’s amazing when you can see your child grow; but as a parent and as an adult, I’m sure you also have other goals…I think out of love, some parents say, “It’s all about my kid.” But there are families with parents who have gotten college degrees and they have all the preparation, but because of the language barrier, they’re being held back.” – Community Outreach and Registration Specialist, Briya Public Charter School

This is just an example of innovation coming out of DC Bilingual, and we’re inspired by the school’s creativity in showcasing additional, external resources by leveraging its goal-setting Parent-Teacher Conference (PTC) day.  If you’re inspired, too, and you’re interested in thought-partnering with us around innovation in family engagement work, then you might be a good fit for our Innovations in Family Engagement (IFE) Fellowship!  More information here.