As the school year begins there are lots of meetings and discussions about what the plans are for the entire year. Based on the support that teachers get, they should know what they will be teaching every month, every week, and in some cases every day. In order to cover all of the material that kids need to know then teachers and administrators look at the year, think of what they need to know first in order to learn what they need to know second, etc until by the end of the year the student has had a good education and is ready to move on the next grade level.
Educators know that if there is not a good scope and sequence then there will gaps in the learning or some learning may not even take place. Every school at least has a scope and sequence in place for each subject even if they struggle to implement it fully. (Yeah, I said it.)
The question is do you have a scope and sequence for your family engagement? Do you know what families need to know first in order to learn what they need to know second so that by the end of the school year THE FAMILY is ready to advance to the next grade level? Please do not tell me about your campus or district plan with its objectives (or are they goals?) all crammed into little boxes on a spreadsheet. I have had one person tell me that their district knew what they were doing for families in March and April based on their plan. One person in one district could tell me that. I did not get to quiz this person on the value of those events or if they were sequential.
Schools need to get serious about their plans for family engagement instead of mixing new recipes and sacred cows to fill out a half hearted menu of offerings that should maybe never make it to the table. Educators should ask themselves “What do we need families to know about their kids, their classrooms, and the content?” I do not think that question is being asked very often because I cannot imagine that the answer would ever be “A spaghetti supper should do the trick.” Having the second graders sing about Johnny Appleseed has yet to show families that the kids can learn anything but (most of) the words of a song, how to (mainly) stand in one place, and most of the kids can keep their fingers out of their nose. I am not opposed to spaghetti suppers, I am not against music programs but neither are truly engaging for families nor do they help us reach academic goals for kids.
Schools must look at what families need to know, what they want to know, and how we can all collaborate to share and teach that information with each other. Most of the things we do in school is to get families in the door, we do very little good after that in regards to student achievement. If we have families come for a presentation did it stick any better than your most recent teacher training? If we do family activities that we thought might be fun, did we tie it to learning or at least to family/student/campus relationships?
Many times I hear schools complain about how families don’t know how to help with homework, use the parent portal, use the technology, or even pay for lunches online. The question remains “When did you teach them or give them an opportunity to learn any of that?”
Schools need to think about what they want families to know, ask families what they want to learn, and actually PLAN accordingly. What programs and events should schools do in September? How will it help students for the rest of the year? What do they need to know first so they can learn the next thing they need to know?
So what am I trying to say? Here are the bullet points:
Get a scope and sequence.
Plan your school year of family engagement on the calendar.
Build off of each program or event.
Use the first event to promote the second.
Think about the best times of the year for the relevance of the event.
Schedule events with your families and your staff in mind.
Evaluate your events and programs. Ask why they worked or didn’t.
Get in touch with Strong Fathers-Strong Families and let us help you plan your best year yet.