Last year at this time, I wrote a blog on Parent and Family Engagement during the COVID pandemic. At the time, I thought that I was only having to address that topic for that unique time frame. Well, unfortunately, I was wrong. Here we are a year later, and the topic is still relevant and necessary. You may want to go back in the All Posts and look for the August 31, 2020 entry for specific hints on how to hold virtual meetings. Since this topic is still very important and is still required, I want to address some of the same content.
As last year began, this year began. Schools started back and COVID came barreling in to the buildings. Due to the spread of COVID, many districts and schools are not allowing visitors into the buildings. This causes a problem when trying to engage parents in meaningful ways that help their children achieve academically. So what can we do to not only engage parents but meet the federal requirements for parent engagement?
Many parents are juggling work, child care, home life, and virtual classes for their children. They, like all educators, are overwhelmed and tired. Virtual meetings can be a meaningful use of time if done intentionally. Too often, we look at these meetings as necessary evils rather than helpful information for parents. For me, it means an attitude shift. I need to think as a parent. If I have a limited amount of time and limited energy, what topics would be useful for me to consider joining in on or watching? When choosing topics, consider those topics parents identified in your comprehensive needs assessment survey and match them to those required for monitoring. For instance, a requirement for monitoring is to provide parents with assistance in understanding state and academic standards. Parents often mark they need help in helping their children with math, reading, or science. Why not hold virtual subject area training meetings. Each grade level teacher can hold a zoom, google meet, Teams, etc. session to which parents are invited to attend. They can then model math standards and give helpful hints to parents. These sessions can be recorded and posted for those parents unable to attend. Another idea is to hold a virtual meeting where teachers explain how to read the screener and/or state test results, and then provide strategies as to how to help improve these reports. This will meet monitoring requirements and often is noted in parent surveys.
The Annual Meeting is where many of the required topics can be presented and addressed. The Title I Annual Meeting can be held virtually via your chosen platform and recorded. A powerpoint similar to this one, Annual Meeting, can help you address all the required elements. Record the meeting and post on social media and the school website. Be sure to take screenshots of the postings and keep documentation of the invitations and the attendee list from the meeting. Most platforms allow one to print the attendees of the meeting. If not, have the attendees type their name and role in the chat box. It is also a great idea if you attach a short survey at the end of the presentation to collect feedback. This can be feedback on how to spend the 1% Title I parent and family engagement funds, feedback on if the schoolwide plan is acceptable, and/or feedback on the presentation itself. Links to the Parent Right-to-Know, Parent and Family Engagement Plan, School Compact, or other parent information can be attached to the presentation and should also be posted on social media. Be sure to screenshot these posting as well.
May your year go smoothly, and when it doesn’t, let’s remember everyone is experiencing fatigue of some kind. Let’s try to make it a point to view the situation from a different perspective and offer grace to each other.