Tips for Teachers: Elevate Your Family Engagement
Families are their students’ first teachers, and harnessing their knowledge of how their students learn can have enormous impact on a student’s academic success. Family engagement may be happening across your district in numerous ways, but teachers are often the person best positioned to do this most effectively. In our 2021 survey, families named teachers as their most trusted source of information when it comes to school safety.
Teachers are busier than ever, and may not always have access to the right training or resources for effective family engagement.
Here are just a few tips for teachers who want to close out the year strong with some positive family engagement strategies that will help improve their school culture and student attendance for an even better 22-23 school year:
Home Visits can be virtual too!
The pandemic moved us into more virtual interactions, some better than others. For busy families, having a virtual option for normally in-person events like family-teacher conferences, orientations, and information sessions was actually a helpful change. This virtual benefit also applies to home visits, which have traditionally been a powerful in-person activity. Studies have found that:
- Students from families who received a home visit from their teacher had 24% fewer absences.
- Students from families who received a home visit were also more likely to be reading at or above grade level.
Some tips for a successful home visit—virtual or in-person:
- Focus on building trust: Every strong relationship includes open dialogue. At the beginning of the year, ask families about their goals for their students and insights about their students learn. In this keynote, family engagement thought leader Dr. Karen Mapp role-plays a positive, trust-building phone call with a parent.
- Be consistent: Ongoing and regular communication is essential to a strong family-school partnership. By creating channels for communication early in the year, and following up with consistent messaging through those channels, families and teachers can productively engage in open, two-way conversations about learning.
- Use a fun Zoom background: Some teachers and families may be uncomfortable sharing a live background of their home on video conferencing. Zoom and other conferencing platforms often offer virtual backgrounds. You might suggest using these backgrounds or simply connect via phone to alleviate any discomfort.
Take a Community Walk!
A great way to build deeper relationships with the students and families you serve is to spend more time in a neighborhood where many of them live, as oftentimes teachers don’t live in the same neighborhood where they teach.
- Reach out to local community leaders (business owners, community organizers, politicians, nonprofit advocates) and try to set up time to discuss community concerns.
- Visit major landmarks and places of worship to build more understanding of your students’ lives outside of school.
- Stop for lunch to get additional local flavor, and if possible, choose a small business.
Check out this article for more on community walks, and for more family engagement strategies, check out our Family Insights Toolkit.