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The school community recognizes the assets and strengths of all students and families and interrupts bias and deficit beliefs.


REAL Family Engagement is possible when educators challenge their own implicit biases and reflect on how these attitudes or stereotypes unconsciously affect our understanding, actions, and decisions. Research links educators’ implicit biases to the well-documented and persistent achievement gaps for Black and Latinx students.5 Decades of research show that teachers, leaders, and administrators frequently treat students of color and their families in ways that negatively impact their school experience and learning. These actions are often the result of implicit bias and deficit beliefs about students based on race, socio-economic, or immigration status. The good news is that our implicit biases are malleable. With effort, reflection, and a commitment to challenging ourselves and others, we can disrupt our implicit biases and take an asset-based approach to partnering with students and families. 

Domain 2


  • Model an asset-based stance when talking about and interacting with students and families.
  • Provide staff opportunities to share stories highlighting the multitude of ways families engage in their child’s education.
  • Encourage staffs’ use of asset-based language when discussing students and families.
  • Allocate time in routine meetings, such as staff meetings or grade-level team meetings, to reflect on beliefs about families and students.
  • Equip staff to feel confident challenging colleague’s biases towards students and families.
  • Provide staff with opportunities to learn about cultural competency, cultural humility, and how to challenge deficit beliefs about families and students.
  • Prioritize time and space to have reflective conversations about identity, bias, and beliefs about students and families.
  • Establish a common language to engage in conversations about the way in which identity and personal experience shape individual biases.
  • Facilitate conversations about implicit bias and its potential impact on students and families.
  • Follow-up with individuals after conversations in which they modeled vulnerability or engaged in an honest conversation. Recognize that these conversations are hard and offer continued support.
  • Pay attention to staffs’ expressed beliefs about students and families, and use observational data to drive reflective conversations with staff, both individually and in groups.
  • Use Flamboyan’s Challenging Assumptions Reflection Tool.
  • Gather data on beliefs about families and routinely use this data to drive reflective conversations.
  • Use family voice to challenge deficit beliefs, such as asking families to share their experiences and perspective at a staff meeting.
  • Ensure staff engages all families in their children’s education in respectful and affirming ways [see Domain 4].
  • Include questions gauging staff beliefs about families on staff surveys, such as:

My school helps teachers be conscious of their biases towards families.

My students’ families are invested in supporting their children’s learning.

My students’ families want me to reach out to them.

The time I spend engaging families is worth it.

  • Celebrate positive staff-family interactions and name them when you see them.
  • Describe the positive interactions and name the impact that interaction might have had on the family and child.

Additional Content

Related Resources

Challenging Assumptions Reflection Tool

Use this tool to spark a conversation about how our assumptions can influence our actions and to examine ways in which we can question ourselves or others when biased or negative beliefs about families emerge.

Family + Student Wellness Check-In

The Wellness Check-Inis a tool that provides educators with a way to connect with families and students during difficult times and let them know that you are thinking of them, concerned about them, and available as a resource.


School improvements and innovations are informed by a diverse sampling of family input, especially from those who have been historically excluded from decision making.

Go to Domain


All families experience a meaningful partnership based on trust and consistent communication, regardless of their child’s grade or classroom.

Go to Domain


Family engagement is a living and breathing part of the culture, systems, and structures of the school.

Go to Domain


The School Leader Tool

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