Family Engagement is Focus of Day 2 of Summer Leadership Institute

Teachers and administrators need to work with students’ families in order to truly better their lives, said the keynote speaker at Wednesday’s Summer Leadership Institute.

Karen Mapp, a Harvard University professor and consultant with the Department of Education, spoke to a packed hall of district and campus leaders during the second day of one of the district’s largest professional development events.

The day’s focus on family engagement continues with the district’s theme of “Becoming Great All Over… The Connection Between Rigorous and Consistent Instruction and School Safety.”

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Mapp suggested school communities will greatly benefit from truly involved family engagement, with students that:

● achieve literacy faster
● earn higher grades and score better on tests
● enroll in higher-level programs
● are promoted more and earn more credits
● adapt better to school and attend more classes
● gain better social skills
● graduate and enroll in higher education

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If schools don’t see family engagement as important, it can even hinder learning, Mapp said, equating the process of family engagement to driving a car without power steering.

“You can do it without family engagement, but it’s a lot harder,” she said.

To truly start engaging parents and caretakers, though, administrators and teachers must first look within themselves to assess their strengths and weaknesses.

“I think that there needs to be a real honest conversation about what family engagement means to the people in that building,” she said. “If the school itself doesn’t have a more broad vision of family engagement… it’s going to be very difficult to make progress.”

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