California Educator

November 2014

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Know & Tell Tips to share How we work together By Colleen A.R. You, California State PTA President to help all children succeed H E N I F I R S T walked into my chil- dren's school, educators told me if parents are passionate about edu- cation, their children sense that energy, and grow to value learning. That's true today, and I want you to know the California State PTA is eager to support teachers to effectively involve parents in the education process. W Recognizing and respecting that a parent is a child's first teacher is the very beginning step to developing a strong working relationship. So what can we do to maximize the possibilities? Recent changes in how California schools are funded expand the opportunities and mean that family engagement in schools is more important than ever. NEW FUNDING METHODS BRING MORE OPPORTUNITIES TO COLLABORATE With the introduction of the Local Control Funding For- mula (LCFF), school districts across the state are required to involve parents in making important decisions about their schools to support student success. This includes active participation by parents in developing and evaluat- ing a Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) for their school district to improve schools. So, communication is the word of the day. When teach- ers and parents have an open line of dialogue, each can actively participate in what goes on with the child's day-to-day learning pro- cess. Not only that, parents can make sure that their children are receiving the benefits of fully credentialed and knowledgeable teachers. Teachers play an important role in sharing firsthand how the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) will be taught in their child's grade. For most families, this is the first opportunity to hear about CCSS. The implementation of the new standards provides opportunities for teachers to communicate with par- ents on how they plan to maximize their talents and differentiate instruction for students by: Please remember, communication does not just mean talking! Using the best method for the parent is helpful. Some parents feel more comfortable speaking via text, email or phone than in person. We all know that teachers work very hard in the classroom, and we are keen to find ways of supporting teachers outside the classroom to cement these relationships. FAMILY-SCHOOL PARTNERSHIPS It is vital that schools and teachers are enthusiastic and dedicated to parental involvement. As research shows, when parents are actively taking a part in their children's education, their children do better in school regardless of their own education level, ethnicity or zip code. Making family engagement a priority on campus also benefits school improvement. Linked to student learning, it is a powerful strategy for achieving whole-school goals. At home, parents can reinforce this strategy. Keeping children focused on school readiness, learning and homework is an important part of the fam- ily-school partnership. And talking about the school day as well as higher education shows how much a family values education. Giving parents good information about how they can support their child at home and how well their child is doing in school is critical. How grade level and school expectations affect their child's progress is also vital to support academic growth and development. Creating a culture of authentic family engagement in schools, however, involves even more than just connecting families and schools. It takes an investment of time, effort and commitment by all stakeholders in the school community to share ideas, set goals, initiate activities and monitor efforts to improve student outcomes and achievement. The California State PTA is excited about working with teachers to fulfill the promises of the new state funding formula and Local Control and Account- ability Plans. With a shared vision and plan for student success, every child has the opportunity to achieve their potential from preschool to high school and beyond. • Engaging in deeper, richer, more relevant instruction for all children. • Clearly defining learning goals for each grade level that build from year to year. • Focusing on key knowledge and skills, including communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity. 17 V O L U M E 1 9 I S S U E 4

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