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Communicating

Develop a comprehensive communication strategy for families.


The simplest adaptation of Epstein’s call for a family communication strategy reads like this: 


Communication activities focus on keeping parents informed about 1:1 and transformation through such things as notices, memos, progress reports, conferences about student work, school functions, team and school web sites, blogs, and e-newsletters (see Enosburgh’s example). The impact of 1:1 on families dictates an effective and comprehensive communications, a combination of 1-way and 2-way communication. And families are increasingly clear about how they want schools to communicate. How do you prefer that families contact the team about 1:1 concerns? How will you let families know about new developments in the 1:1 initiative? How will you share students’ work and help families understand the impact of 1:1 on student learning? How will you make sure all families have access to your parenting resources? These are among the questions that beg for a robust family-team communication strategy.


An effective strategy is Harwood 7th grade team's weekly team-generated electronic newsletter using Mailchimp.  Each team teacher writes a short summary of the week ahead and includes images of student learning.  All teachers have committed to assigning work and sharing resources via Schoology, their team's Learning Management System) so parents have ready access to teaching and assessing resources, which will help them provide support at home when needed.




Think:

  1. Read the Communication section in Epstein and Hutchins’ Family Involvement chapter.
Discuss:
  1. Assess your prior experience with family communications. Which strategies have been worked in the past?  Which have fallen short of your expectations? Why do you think they were or were not effective? 
Act: 
  1. 1. Review some ideas about connecting with parents and list in your meeting minutes some technologies that could enhance 1-way and 2-way communication with families. Include platforms (wikis, blogs, etc.) as well as media (Voicethread, videos, podcasts, etc.).

  2. 2. Identify strategies – new or old, distance or in person – that can address at least the following needs:
    • Share student work and experiences 
    • Share assessment information 
    • Solicit feedback and suggestions from families about their experience with 1:1 
    • Solicit input from families about what’s working for their child 
    • Communicate about events 
    • Other ideas needs you perceive

  1. 3.  Launch the strategies you’ve selected, such as posting a parent calendar to your team’s web presence; create the blog that will host unfolding team experiences and student work; create a Google Form to solicit feedback from families.


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