Considering how powerful the school-family relationship can be in supporting student achievement, it is no surprise that to create consistent, sustainable partnerships, they must be embedded in the fundamental ideals that:
So whether you are an educator, a parent-caregiver, or both–this one is for you.
In Beyond the Bake Sale (2007), the authors note, “Before we can create strong and effective partnerships with families, we have to believe not only that it's important but also that it can be done–and that we can do it. That means it’s necessary for school staff to hold a set of positive beliefs about family engagement (p.27).”
Engaging Voices, Amplifying Impact
At the heart of our educational philosophy lies the belief that parents and families are critical stakeholders in the success of our school. This approach must be lensed from a place of equity and cultural responsiveness–everyone has value, everyone belongs, and the history of education in this country must recognize the harm it has produced on communities of Color and Indigenous Peoples.
To acknowledge and respect the diverse perspectives, experiences, and voices helps to shape and reshape the fabric of a community. Additionally, this requires the school and its staff to be trained and prepared at all levels to create a safe space where staff and families can reflect, identify biases, and collaborate without prejudice.
The communal mission and vision, lived out through intentional, equitable action, must commit to:
Embracing the Responsibility of 'In Loco Parentis'
In the absence of parents, we uphold the doctrine of 'in loco parentis,' assuming the role of stewards for the well-being and education of their children.
Our commitment extends to providing a nurturing, communicative, and supportive environment conducive to learning and holistic growth.
Building Trust Through Effective Communication
Interviews with PTA, PTO, and PTSA members have provided invaluable insights into fostering trust and meaningful relationships between teachers and parents:
Responding to Parental Needs
I find it best to often do more listening than talking and to make sure when I speak, I focus on questions that are directly aligned with the parent/caregiver's needs rather than telling them anything.
IT is imperative I validate their experience and provide a platform to be heard while also framing my goals and intentions in order to support them. In over two decades of educational experience, a resounding message from parents has been the importance of being genuinely heard and responded to.
We strive to:
Redefining Parent-Teacher Meetings
We recognize the anxiety surrounding these meetings and seek to redefine them:
The Difference is You
The power of building these bridges between schools and families cannot be taken for granted; without this integral part of our educational ecosystem, we are doomed to fail.
We deserve the benefit of engaging with our parents, caregivers, and families and aligning everything we do with everything they have to offer.
To continue the conversations, love, and learning, follow me @MJBowerman, and join our Heartleading community on Facebook to share your experiences, strategies, and insights as we continue this journey together!
You can also pick up my book, Heartleader: A Trauma-Responsive Approach to Teaching, Leading, and Building Communities, here:
Heartleader is a must-read for all educators!
Lastly, please check out my LIVE training on Heartleading with Trauma-Responsive Strategies for K-12 Educators.
Bowerman, M. (2023). Heartleader: a trauma-responsive approach to teaching, leading, and building community. TeacherGoals. www.teachergoals.com/heartleader
Bowerman, M. (2023). Trauma-Responsive Living. TeacherGoals. https://teachergoals.com/trauma-responsive-living/
Bowerman, M. (2023). Three types of crucial engagement. Edutopia. https://www.edutopia.org/article/building-sustaining-student-engagement
Flora, S. R. (2000). Praise's magic reinforcement ratio: Five to one gets the job done. The Behavior Analyst Today, 1(4), 64–69. https://doi.org/10.1177/1063426618763106
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2024). Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/aces/index.html
Henderson, A., Mapp, K., Johnson, V., Davies, D. (2007). Beyond the bake sale. p.27