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Family-School Collaboration: Building Positive Parent-Teacher Relationships at the Schoolwide Level


Family-School Collaboration: Building Positive Parent-Teacher Relationships at the Schoolwide Level Maine Association of School Psychologists – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Family-School Collaboration: Building Positive Parent-Teacher Relationships at the Schoolwide Level

Family-School Collaboration Building Positive
Parent-Teacher Relationships at the Schoolwide
Maine Association of School Psychologists November
20, 2010 Kathleen Minke, Ph.D., NCSP University
of Delaware NASP President, 2010-11

  • Review strategies for teaching systems concepts
    and encouraging a positive approach to families.
  • Review communication strategies that teachers can
    use to support development of good working
    relationships with families.
  • Review schoolwide strategies that make a school
    more family friendly.

PBS Training in Delaware
1-5 of students w/6 referrals
5-10 of students w/1-5 referrals
Targeted Team
80-90 of students w/0-1 referrals
Developing Self-Discipline in the
Classroom Family-School Collaboration Creative
Response to Conflict School-wide Team Training
Family Collaboration at all Levels
PCP Wraparound FBA/BSP
Problem solving meetings
Communication Skills
Family-School Conferences Family participation in
planning, implementing, and evaluating
school-wide program Information sharing to and
from families
Systems Thinking
Family-School Relationships
  • Families have a profound impact on academic,
    social, and emotional development of their
    children (Parke Buriel, 2006).
  • Positive school-home relations are an important
    characteristic of effective schools instrumental
    in comprehensive school reform efforts (e.g.,
    Comer, Haynes, Joyner, Ben-Avie, 1996).

Family-School Relationships
  • There is increasing evidence of a CAUSAL
    relationship between parents participation and
  • Parents efforts increase child engagement in
    academics that, in turn, leads to improved

Involvement vs. Collaboration
Unidirectional Transactional
Educators design family-school activities, without parent consultation, to help the school achieve its goals. summon parents to school to hear information, not to contribute information. Educators work together with families to develop plans that advance the shared goal of school success. acknowledge and consider the beliefs, and preferences of children and their families.
How can we....
We want you to....
Involvement vs. Collaboration
Expert-Driven Multiple Expertise
Educators are experts about the child and the childs problems parents are learners. tell parents how to assist the school in fixing the child and/or how they should assist with homework. Educators presume that each person, including the child, has important information to share. accept that each individual may have different, and equally valid, perceptions of the same situation.
Help me understand..
I will tell you how...
Involvement vs. Collaboration
Universal Individualized
Educators recommend to families how to improve family participation in school these apply to all families. Educators know that each family, teacher, classroom, and child is different. They respect these differences when planning interventions. assume that families who do not participate care about their childrens education and have good reasons for their behavior.
One size fits all.
Each child, family, teacher, classroom is
Collaboration a COOPERATIVE relationship
  • In which system members share both the power and
    the responsibility needed to support child
  • It is an approach that includes each family in
    the education of their children in ways congruent
    with the familys values, goals, and culture.

and a BALANCED relationship!
  • Parents- assume responsibilities within their
    roles as parents (not professional educators)
  • Educators- assume responsibilities within their
    roles as instructors (not parent substitutes).
  • Students- assume their responsibilities as

Overview of Skills/Strategies The CORE Model of
  • Connected
  • Optimistic
  • Respected
  • Empowered

Overview of Skills/Strategies The CORE Model of
  • Ecosystemic approach
  • CORE beliefs
  • 7 Communication Strategies
  • Proactive outreach strategies
  • Conferences and Problem-solving Meetings

Home Alone
  • Read the instructions on the index card at your
  • Take notes as you watch the clip

Systems Theory
  • Systems are units,
  • composed of sets of interrelated parts,
  • that act in organized, interdependent ways
  • to promote the adaptation or survival of the
    whole unit.
  • -Pianta

Thinking Differently
  • Systems Theory/Principles
  • Wholeness
  • Each member affects, and is affected by, every
    other member
  • When a member is added, subtracted or changes
    behavior in some way, the entire system must
    reorganize to accommodate the change.
  • System as a whole is greater than the sum of its

Thinking Differently
  • Systems Theory/Principles
  • Patterns of Interaction
  • Behavior occurs in circular patterns with each
    person contributing
  • Circularity Repetitive cycles in which the
    same outcomes occur repeatedly a to b to c
    to a
  • Punctuation View of reality reflected by
    arbitrary starting point

Behavior Problem from a Systemic View A to B to C
to D to A
Teacher criticizes child
Child misbehaves in class
Child complains about teacher to parent
Parent criticizes teacher
Behavioral Patterns of Interaction
  • Significance
  • Intervention possible at any point in the circle
  • how not why
  • No Blame!!!

Thinking about Problems Solutions
  • Solutions
  • There are multiple perspectives from which to
    view the same situation and each leads to
    different alternatives in the search for
  • Systems perspective looks for solutions based on
    interrupting the pattern and on individual
    abilities and resources.

Overview of Skills/Strategies The CORE Model of
  • Connected
  • Optimistic
  • Respected
  • Empowered

Activity 2 CORE Beliefs Discussion
  • Step 1 In pairs, each person describe BRIEFLY
    each of the beliefs selected and why.
  • Step 2 Look for commonalities and differences.
  • Step 3 For each challenging belief identified,
    brainstorm ways that you might think
    differently to allow that belief to become part
    of your approach to families.

Talking to Families
  • Communication Strategies/Skills
  • By using good communication strategies, you can
    increase the chances that
  • you understand what the other is saying
  • they understand you

Potential Miscommunications
  • Teacher says
  • He doesnt always do his homework.
  • Her pre-reading skills are a bit low.
  • He really loves to watch television, doesnt he?

CORE Model Talking Differently
  • 7 Communication Strategies
  • Attend to non-verbal communication
  • Listen to understand reflecting and summarizing
  • Model the collaborative role avoid labeling,
    jargon and advice giving!
  • Search for strengths
  • Reframing
  • Delivering/Receiving negative information
  • Blocking blame

Skill2 Listen to understand reflect/clarify/emp
  • An empathic response
  • Helps the other feel heard and understood
  • Usually involves both content and affect
  • NEVER involves judgment
  • Does not introduce the speakers point of view

Build Empathic Responses
  • Main content (what the person said or implied)
  • Affect/Feelings (stated or implied)
  • _____________________
  • Combine content and affect into brief response
  • ______________________
  • Add checkout (Is that right?), if needed
    (invite the other to keep talking)

Empathy Practice
  • Parent (speaking quickly and in great distress)
  • My son is driving me crazy. At ten years old you
    would think he could be responsible for himself
    at least a little bit! He cant accomplish a
    single thing unless Im standing right there,
    nagging him all the way through.
  • Homework is a nightmare! I feel like Im the one
    with homework and we struggle for at least two
    hours before it is done. This cant go on. Hes
    not learning and Im out of patience!
  • How can I help him?

Skill 3 Model the collaborative role
  • Resist the role of expert
  • Participants may seek your expertise
  • directly
  • How should I help Johnny with his homework?
  • indirectly
  • by listing a variety of concerns and looking to
    you for solutions.

Skill 3 Model the collaborative role
  • Conversation Stoppers to avoid
  • 1. Labeling
  • Negative adjectives- e.g., lazy, unmotivated
  • Describe actual behavior instead
  • Diagnoses as explanations- e.g., ADHD, LD
  • Do Not make child a diagnosis use person-first

Skill 3 Model the collaborative role
  • Conversation Stoppers to avoid
  • 2. Jargon- eliminate the ABCs of Education
  • example The IST discussed the DIBELS data and
    decided to continue RTI at Tier 3 for the next
    MP. If that doesnt work, an IEP and SCC might be
    needed because JT is LD.
  • 3. Laundry lists- telling every problem all at

Skill 3 Model the collaborative role
  • Strategies to use
  • Validate others feelings views through
    empathic responding
  • Seek related information
  • More details on the problem
  • Past solution attempts and their effectiveness
  • Ideas considered but not yet tried
  • Give related information in a tentative way
    (Some families I know)
  • Be specific and clear

Skill 3 Model the collaborative role
  • First commandment of collaboration-
  • Ask before you answer!!!
  • Solicit the other participants ideas before
    offering your expertise.
  • Do this even when you have valuable suggestions.

  • PRAY for Collaboration
  • Pause
  • Reflect elicit more information
  • Ask others opinions, previous solutions, etc.
  • You offer your view and any necessary supporting

Activity 4 Reframing Practice
1. Controlling
2. Defiant/uncooperative
3. Argumentative
4. Immature
5. Impulsive/hyperactive
6. Withdrawn
7. Passive
8. manipulative
9. Rigid
Adapted from Murphy (1997)
Skill 6 Delivering/Receiving Difficult Messages
  • A main source of educators trepidation about
    working with parents is the need to both give and
    receive information about problems.
  • Educators worry about being blamed for problems.
  • Natural reaction of defensiveness can shut down

Skill 6 Delivering Difficult Messages
  • Limit
  • Choose no more than one or two negative pieces of
    information to be delivered. (Think about the
    most important pieces of information the parent
    needs from the school.).
  • Be calm and wondering in your presentation.
  • Wondering, tentativeness, willingness to be
  • Be clear and specific. Cite observable behaviors
    instead of judgments.
  • Johnny is unmotivated vs. Johnny seems to
    have a difficulty time getting started on his
    seat work- especially if it is math

Skill 6 Delivering Difficult Messages
  • Be brief and ask for reaction after a couple of
  • Do not support your positions with a lot of
  • Convey confidence (optimism) the problem can be
  • Not me vs. you
  • But you and me vs. the problem

Skill 6 Delivering Difficult Messages
  • Several of your students comes to talk to you
    about the field hockey team. They tell you that
    the coach, Ms. Howell, has been belittling,
    crude, and downright mean to the team. She yells
    and calls them fat and lazy.
  • Your students want to just quit the team, but
    they agree that it is ok for you to talk to the
    coach about the problem. You are meeting with the

Skill 6 Delivering/Receiving Difficult Messages
  • Receiving
  • Listen Actively listen try to fully
    understand the concern (Be quiet first!)
  • Understand Try to understand other persons
  • Often just being heard will be enough.
  • Clarify Reflect both content and emotion.
  • Validate concerns by showing you heard their
  • Do NOT defend yourself
  • Concentrate on listening and understanding.
  • Give yourself time to think.
  • STOP if you find yourself becoming angry.

An Angry Parent
  • I need to talk to you about the bad grade you
    gave Fred on his literacy project. It is
    ridiculous to expect a 4th grader to complete
    such a huge assignment in such a short time. One
  • And we had to go to the library and search on the
    internet! We were up until midnight and it still
    wasnt finished! But he had to go to bed!

Dialogues Example
  • Collaborative Teacher She is very energetic and
    spontaneous. In what kinds of situations do you
    find those qualities most challenging?
  • Rationale a reframing response - looks for
    positive interpretation avoids cliché avoids
    opinion avoids minimizing seeks additional
  • Parent Kelly is so impulsive! Will she always
    be like this?
  • Non-collaborative Teacher Oh, Im sure shell
    grow out of it. Lots of girls go through these

CORE MODEL Behaving Differently
  • Proactive Outreach Strategies
  • Conferences and Problem-solving Meetings

Proactive Strategies for Reaching Out to
Families overview
  • The school-wide team
  • The physical plant
  • Written communications
  • (policies and personal)
  • Activities at school

Proactive Strategies Getting information FROM
  • Family members as participants on the school-wide
  • School climate data from families?
  • Input from families in planning, implementing,
    and evaluating the school-wide discipline plan?

Proactive Strategies The Physical Plant
  • How welcoming to families does the school appear?
  • Are visitors a priority?

Create an Inviting Physical Plant
  • What are some ways to the message that families
    are welcome here?
  • Welcome signs, mission statement, school map in
    languages common among students
  • Someone/everyone to greet visitors
  • Arrange office in an inviting way
  • Greet all visitors promptly and courteously

Create an Inviting Physical Plant
  • All visitors must report
  • to the office.

Proactive Strategies Written Communications
  • Forms and policies
  • Personal communications

Written Communications Forms and Policies
  • What reading level is required to interpret the
  • Is there jargon that can be removed or better
  • How do we ensure that families with limited
    written English literacy have access to this
  • To what extent do documents encourage
  • Parental choices and options
  • Two way communication

Teacher to Parent Messages
  • Invitations
  • Should be specific (not just sent home in
  • Should be non-institutional
  • Should make clear how the activity affects the
    parents own child.

Written Communications Personal
  • Good intentions
  • Questionable choices

Written Communications Personal
  • Good news notes are usually welcome and
  • Avoid using notes home or emails to communicate
    about problems.
  • Communicate about concerns early and directly.
  • Concentrate on your main goals.
  • Consult with others when needed.

Proactive Strategies Activities at School
  • Examine Current Activities for Opportunities for
  • Needs Assessment/Evaluation
  • Build in Options

Relationship-building activities
  • How often have you heard (or said!)
  • We never see the parents
  • we need to see!

Relationship-building activities
  • Examine Current Opportunities
  • Orientation/Back to School Night
  • Workshops
  • Good news phone calls
  • Newsletters
  • Communication systems
  • Contracts/agreements
  • Student progress reports
  • Information on supporting students at home

Relationship-building Activities
  • Start of the year questionnaire
  • For parents
  • What are your hopes and goals for your child for
    this school year?
  • What gets your child excited about learning?
  • How has your child changed over this past summer?
  • For students
  • What did you learn this summer?
  • What do you want to learn this year?

Relationship-building Activities
  • See and Be Seen
  • Teacher walks around the school
  • Map the neighborhood for resources
  • Shop in the neighborhood (or otherwise spend some
    non-school time there)
  • Home visits
  • From Kyle, et al. (2002)

Relationship-building activities
  • Examine Current Opportunities
  • Needs Assessment/Evaluation
  • Survey those in attendance at events
  • What could be done differently to encourage more
    parents to come?
  • Survey parents when they register their children
  • Ask parents for their views at conferences

Sample Evaluation Questions
  • To what extent are the following present in our
    school community
  • Recognition that the quality of the family-school
    relationship influences childrens success.
  • A non-blaming, no-fault, problem-solving stance
    in interactions with families.
  • Parental and school trust in each other.
  • Policies and practices that support shared
    responsibility for childrens learning.

Needs Assessment/Evaluation Open-ended approach
  • What information would you like to receive from
    your childs teachers that you are not receiving
  • What changes do you recommend for how conferences
    and meetings are conducted?
  • What ideas do you have about ways to help parents
    support their childrens learning?
  • What would you like teachers to know about your
    child that they dont know now?

Relationship-building activities
  • Examine Current Opportunities
  • Needs Assessment/Evaluation
  • Build in Options
  • Choices for families of whether or how to
  • Continuous process of evaluation and information
    gathering FROM families

Relationship Building Opportunities
  • Gain administrative support
  • Provide information on the importance of the
    family-school connection
  • Model collaboration in your own work
  • Discuss ways to improve communication
  • Volunteer to work on policy
  • Look for ways to improve bidirectional aspect of
  • Get information FROM families (needs assessment)
  • Take a systems change approach

Behaving Differently Routing Conferences and
Problem-Solving Meetings
  • Two types of conferences are discussed
  • Routine
  • Problem-solving

Traditional Conferences
Ritualized experiences where both parties
demonstrate they care about the child but little
actual information is exchanged Susan Swap
Conferences and Meetings
  • 5 ways family-school conferences are different
  • All parties prepare in advance
  • Students are active participants
  • Educator concentrates on receiving rather than
    giving information.
  • Educator acknowledges, expands and underscores
    the strengths of the family.
  • The conference is a conversation. At no time
    is the educator the presenter.

Conferences and Meetings
  • Outcome goals
  • A plan is developed collaboratively for
    supporting the students continued success,
    including plans to remediate identified
  • All participants leave feeling hopeful about
    their participation and future success
  • Students leave feeling greater ownership of their
    own learning

Conferences and Meetings
  • Process goals
  • Each participant has ample time to share thoughts
    in the conference
  • Shared expectations for the child are developed
    by the group
  • Each participant is both a teacher and a learner

Family-School Conferences Outcomes
  • Participating parents and teachers agreed that
    the conferences were beneficial and they wanted
    to continue using the FSC style.
  • Children were active participants.
  • Parents and teachers valued watching each other
    interact with the child

Family-School Conferences Outcomes
  • FSCs took roughly the same amount of time but
    participants felt more information exchange
  • Teachers felt they needed lots of practice and
    feedback to do the process well.

Evaluation Data
  • Does participation in collaboration training have
    a positive effect on teacher
  • Beliefs about parent involvement
  • Practices (e.g., number and type of contact with

Reflections Activities
  • Systems Principles
  • CORE Elements and Beliefs
  • Communication Strategies
  • The School-wide Team and Families
  • Physical Plant
  • Written Communications
  • Relationship-building opportunities
  • Conferences

Required Reflection
  • Think about the operation of your school-wide
    team. Describe
  • the ways in which your practices have changed as
    a result of what you learned in the family-school
    collaboration workshop (if any)
  • your plans for further development of
    family-school collaboration in your practice (if
  • barriers that must be overcome in order for
    change to occur

Reflections Data
  • Most frequent positive comments concerned
    communication strategies
  • Increased positive contacts
  • More attention to wording of notes home
  • Increased effort to translate documents and
    positive notes
  • Greater attention to seeking information and
    limiting advice giving

Reflections Data
  • Meeting changes were discussed frequently
  • Avoiding jargon
  • Avoiding advice
  • Listening more carefully
  • Including positive information

Reflections Data
  • Innovative strategies
  • Welcome back activity for frequent flyers and
    their families
  • Using email to elicit parent ideas on the
    school-wide program
  • Creating a spreadsheet to monitor positive
  • Using the districts world languages teachers to
    help with parent contacts

Reflections Data
  • Barriers to change
  • Time (teachers and parents)
  • Language
  • Lack of support from administration

The importance of relationships
  • An understanding heart is everything in a
    teacher, and cannot be esteemed highly enough.
    One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant
    teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched
    our human feeling.
  • Carl Gustav Jung

Thanks for playing!