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5 Bullying Prevention Tips for Principals

Posted on Tue, Oct 30, 2012 @ 13:10 PM

bullying preventionWe’ve heard the alarming statistics; we’ve seen the documentaries and witnessed enough of it in the hallways to know that bullying is a serious issue. As worrisome as these facts are, the good news is that there’s no shortage of simple, but highly effective, bullying prevention strategies principals and teachers can implement into their schools.

5 Bullying Prevention Tips for Principals

Post antibullying signs
In order to set the tone for a diverse and accepting school culture, you might consider posting diversity or bullying prevention signs around campus. This will remind students, parents, visitors and administration that bullying is not tolerated. You can order signage online for relatively cheap, or to encourage buy-in, you might even hold a school-wide contest where students submit their own custom designs and messages. 

Invite diverse guest speakers
Most state standards require that students study ancient culture and civilization. Books are useful learning tools, but they have limitations, especially if we want to make content come alive for our students. Here’s an idea: Say that you are studying Eastern civilizations. Why not invite a Buddhist monk from a local temple to give a presentation on Buddhism? You could apply this to any culture or religion, really. Guest speakers not only give tangible life to the material students have been studying in their textbooks, they also bolster the fact that your school is open and accepting of all cultures.

Partner with a local college or university
Most university counseling programs require students to take a practicum, usually a semester-long supervised “course” where students put everything they’ve learned from the program into practice. Odds are that you already have a counselor on staff (at least part time), but why not take advantage of the extra help from university interns? Not only will they be earning credit hours towards graduation—which means that you won’t have to dip into your budget—they’ll also be lightening your current counselor’s work load.

With the extra help on hand, you’ll have the resources you need to conduct team meetings with parents, students and teachers; you’ll also have more resources to help monitor lunch. Intern counselors can also organize bullying prevention activities: Say, for example, that one student has misbehaved or bullied another student. The offending student could have lunch with one of the interning counselors to discuss what happened and what the student could have done differently. In addition to this, the student and counselor could collaborate to come up with an appropriate way to remedy the behavior: writing the other student a letter, for example, or drawing him or her a picture.

 Start Lunch Clubs
Another way to encourage diversity and positive friendships is to break students out of their routine and get them interacting with students outside of their inner circle. Try putting together a few different supervised activities during lunch: Mondays could be devoted to a movie in one room and karaoke in the other. Tuesdays could be devoted to dance in one room and music-making (with various instruments) in the other, etc. These activities could be facilitated by volunteer teachers or interning counselors.

Collaborate with Parents
Having the support of parents is essential to creating a positive school culture. In addition to encouraging parents to form bullying prevention committees, what if you were to conduct home visits like Larry Ferlazzo has done at his Sacremento, California high school? If that sounds unrealistic, consider the fact that Ferlazzo’s school, Luther Burbank, has over 2,000 students. In spite of this, he and his staff continue to make hundreds of visits to the homes of incoming freshman (as well as older students) who have not successfully passed the high school exit exam. Ferlazzo and his team focus on academic success, but there’s no reason that you couldn’t talk to parents about school culture, diversity and bullying at the same time.

 

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Topics: Educational Leadership Degree, Educational Leadership Master's Programs, Becoming an effective principal, Successful Schools, bullying

5 Effective Reading Instruction Strategies For Any Grade

Posted on Tue, Sep 04, 2012 @ 12:09 PM

Teacher Reading to StudentsWithin the last few decades, the role of the principal has changed dramatically. Now in addition to all of the administrative and managerial duties s/he organizes behind the scenes, principals are often expected to:

  • Design, implement and refine curricula
  • Offer instructional support and improve
    teaching and student learning

That being the case, we thought it might be useful to talk a bit about designing—or reimagining—your school’s reading program.

Like any skill, reading “muscles” become stronger when exercised regularly. And just like any sport or exercise, a competent coach (you/the teacher) and rigorous training program (designed, at least in part, by you) is vital to the trainee’s progress.

5 Effective Reading Instruction Strategies For Any Grade

  • Let students choose…sometimes
    Imagine being assigned complicated texts about subjects you dislike or know nothing about. Now imagine having to read them every day. Sound inspiring? Of course not. Granted, students don’t always have their own best interests in mind—so no doubt, a great majority of the texts they read will be chosen for them.

    Here’s something to consider though: Research from Guthrie and Humenick suggests  that children who get to choose at least one thing to read per day are not only more engaged, but see an increase in reading comprehension skills. By allowing students to choose their reading material, they can select something at a comfortable reading level, something that interests them, and something they can relate to. Which brings us to Number 2.

  • Offer interrelated materials that they understand
    Skip the skill-oriented drills and use engaging, interrelated materials they understand. Texts should connect—and you should discuss those connections with students. The more they relate to characters, setting, and plot, the more likely they are to continue reading.

  • Meaningful composition
    Let children compose their own writing. No response to prompts, no fill-in-the-blank “dittos,” and forget question/answer formats. Why make writing a rote exercise? Let their writing transcend the classroom.

    As we said, students don’t always have their own best interests in mind, so count on hearing some gripes early on. You'll hear lots of, "but I don't know what to write about..." Let them know that you are more interested in their ideas than you are in missing commas. I promise you, this will liberate them. Over time, students' free-form writing will begin to flow, allowing them to unconsciously put into practice what their effective reading instruction has been cultivating.

  • Read Out Loud
    Whether you have 18-year-olds or 8-year-olds, find some time to a) have them read out loud and b) have them listen to your read. Modeling fluent reading skills is one of the most useful, but also the most underused pedagogical practices. Modeling isn’t fancy and certainly doesn’t require special training, but research from Wu and Samuels proves that it helps the brain orient to rhythms, cadence, tone, expression, context; an added bonus, of course, is that it also piques students’ interest in the world of literature.

  • Reading Clubs
    The more children engage with each other about what they are reading (or have read), the more excited they get about the process. Set up book groups for a few minutes each week, allowing students to chat freely about their ideas, suggestions, and opinions. It boosts reading comprehension skills without them even knowing it.

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Topics: Educational Leadership, Educational Leadership Degree, Educational Leadership Master's Programs, student engagement, Role of Principal in School, Successful Schools, Developing Teachers

Outdoor Schools. Kid-Tested. Walt Whitman Approved.

Posted on Tue, Aug 14, 2012 @ 09:08 AM

Walt WhitmanThis morning I opened my email and was greeted by a link to an article profiling what is commonly being referred to as an "outdoor school" or “nature preschool.” We usually blog about issues concerning Education and Leadership and Instructional Technology, but I liked it so much that I felt it deserved a tribute and a repost. Here’s the short version:

Welcome to Blue Heron, a New Hampshire “all-weather” preschool. Here students spend as much of the day as possible—regardless of the weather—outside at the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center.  

In this classroom, students set the agenda and choose the activities. Perhaps they’ll stack some sticks, run around, take a tour with a geologist, or just sit down on a blanket and get lost in a good book. If they find a log and want to turn it over, are they told they’ll get hurt or dirty? Nope. They roll it over and see what the world looks like from below; then they dutifully roll it back the way that they found it.

The activities may be in flux, but the central tenant of the philosophy of the outdoor school never wavers: Students, not teachers, set the agenda. If an activity goes off the rails, teachers are there to redirect, intervene and turn the situation into a teachable moment.

It’s true that the concept has started to catch on, but it’s not new. The idea originated in Scandinavia in the 1960s and then migrated to the United Kingdom, Germany and Southeast Asia before landing in the U.S.

Skeptics of the outdoor school system might be reluctant to turn their kids outdoors in the dead of winter, but surprisingly, a 1997 study of the Scandinavian schools using it found that students had 5 percent fewer absences due to sickness than those in traditional schools. The study also found that students showed an increase in concentration and motor function.

Student Studying in NatureReading all of this brings to mind what British Secretary of State for Education, Kenneth Clark said in the 1990s: “Having any ideas about how children learn, or develop, or feel, should be seen as a subversive activity.” Was he branding “subversive” a noble attribute? Whether or not Clark truly believed that educational theorists should approach learning “subversively,” I don’t know. If he did, I think there’s some wisdom (perhaps unintended) in his statement.

New ideas create tension and threaten to undermine the stability of the “tried and true.” They also lead us, as Richard Baily suggests in the preface of Loris Malaguzzi and the Reggio Emilia Experience, “to question the common sense presumptions of educational practices.” And these common sense presumptions often “hide numerous contestable concepts” that should be contested.

Whether or not “all-weather," outdoor schools “work,” or how exactly they impact student achievement may require more substantive research—but I certainly like the spirit of it all and can’t help but be reminded of something Walt Whitman once said:

“A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books.”  

You might be interested in becoming an educational technologist; maybe you want to become a principal and are considering a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership. Perhaps you are interested in professional development and would like to earn a Master’s in the Art of Teaching. Whatever the case may be, Marygrove College has several online Master’s programs tailored to fit your needs—and your wallet!

Topics: Educational Leadership, Educational Leadership Degree, Educational Leadership Master's Programs, Educational Technology, Educational Technology Master's Degree, Educational Technology Programs, student engagement, Role of Principal in School, Online Master's in Educational Leadership, Successful Schools, Master's in Educational Technology Online, Developing Teachers

Public Speaking, Death and Twitter in the Classroom

Posted on Wed, Aug 08, 2012 @ 09:08 AM

Fear of Public SpeakingI began one of our first blogs with an analogy. I’ll have you know that I’m about to recycle it and darn it, I’m not going to feel bad about it either:

How many times have you said something about public speaking or your reluctance to give speeches and had someone come right back with the threadbare cliché about how “one study” found that “the average person fears public speaking more than death?

Who conducted this study, exactly?

Regardless of whether or not this “study”/cliché can be validated, it is true that most of us—especially our students—have an aversion to public speaking.

Some might argue that students should learn to confront their fears by being forced to speak up in class. That’s a worthy conversationone that I’d like to take up in subsequent blogs—but not one we are going to take up in this article.

As an alternative to forcing students to talk, using Twitter in the classroom is one way—not necessarily the only or the best way—for every student, both bold and shy, to participate equally. As you’ll see, the benefits of using Twitter in the classroom go far beyond satiating our students’ fear of public speaking.

If you have considered using Twitter in the classroom, here are 5 ideas to get you started:

  1. Use Twitter as a Steady Stream of Calendar Updates: Just picture all the times you go home, are washing the dishes, and think, "I sure hope they remember that Project X is due tomorrow..." Now you can send a Tweet in the same time it takes to think the thought, and all of your students will be reminded. Magic.

  2. Engage Students in Discussions. Whether you encourage the use of Twitter inside the classroom or not, there are all kinds of ways to incorporate Tweet-based discussions.  Make "Tweeting one discussion question and one discussion reply" a homework assignment; then use the following class day to discuss the questions and comments.  You may be surprised to hear from some little birds who have never made a classroom peep. You can have students write their questions in class and have TAs Tweet them later. Whatever way you decide to use it, a Twitter-based discussion format can help level the participation playing field.

  3. Use Twitter to Connect to Real Life.  Tweet news feeds, links to YouTube videos, or even your own pictures or thoughts regarding real life objects or events that are related to your current classroom lesson(s). Students love interactive learning. Your Tweets will keep them in the intellectual loop or introduce them to new and exciting concepts you might not have had time for in the classroom.

  4. Keep Parents Connected.  Using Twitter in the Classroom can also be a 2-for-1. Parents can follow the Twitter stream and will feel connected and engaged. Plus, they are much more likely to be on your side when it comes to missing assignments or "forgotten" test days.

  5. Build a Progressive Something. Imagine your students voluntarily engaging in school work over the weekend. Start a poem or a math equation. Input one fact about a historical person or setting. Anyone following the feed can only add one line, step, or fact and watch it build.  It's good practice for everyone!

I’d like to end by raising a question: I’ve heard more than a few teachers argue against classroom technology like Twitter and Student Response Systems. These teachers argue that this type of technology caves to our students’ insecurities and fails to prepare them to navigate the give-and-take of “real” conversation. I’d like to hear your thoughts. Is there any truth to this?

At Marygrove College, we provide educators, teachers, professionals and administrators with the knowledge and practical ability to keep up with an ever expanding array of technology. The classroom is rapidly changing—we want to help you stay current. If you are interested in successfully integrating educational technology into your school or classroom, learn more about Marygrove College’s Master of Education Technology Online.

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Topics: Educational Technology, Educational Technology Master's Degree, Educational Technology Programs, Instructional Technology Graduate Programs, Best Apps for Educators, student engagement, Online Education, Successful Schools, Master's in Educational Technology Online

Successful Schools Don't Major in the Minors

Posted on Tue, Aug 07, 2012 @ 09:08 AM

Teacher Standing in Front of ChalkboardIf you’ve been reading our blog, we’ve probably made it clear by now that we fully reject the notion that high-poverty, high-minority schools cannot be successful schools. We’re not alone. So does Karen Chenoweth, author of “Leaving Nothing to Chance.” 

Over the course of six years, Chenoweth visited nearly two dozen successful schools—to be more specific, “high-performing high-poverty and high-minority schools”—and spoke to principals and academic leadership to figure out their secret.

Here are a few pearls of wisdom she garnered along the way:

Don’t Major in the Minors
One of Chenoweth’s visits was at P.S. 124 in Queens, New York. There she spoke with the principal, Elaine Thompson. When drywall needed to be replaced or there was an eruption in the cafeteria, Thompson was nowhere to be found. Why? It simply wasn’t her problem. For every anticipated melodrama or malfunction the school had, Thompson had selected a specific task-savvy adult to handle it. That way, she explains, she did not have to “stay mired in the day-to-day crises” or become sidetracked by what she calls “majoring in the minors.”

For Thompson, quick fixes may turn heads and earn principals “rock star status” with the faculty and staff—but they certainly don’t address deficiencies in pedagogy, curriculum, instruction and discipline.

Interviews should be comprehensive—even exhausting
Effective principals are essential to successful schools, but they cannot ride into a school on a white horse and do it on their own. Nope, they need the right teachers who have had expectations clearly articulated from the outset.

When hiring new teachers
, Molly Bensinger-Lacy, a principal at a Virginia Elementary school, explained to the candidates that she expected them to

  • Participate in professional learning communities
  • Teach one intersession (the school was year-round)
  • Participate in after-school classes
  • Participate in extracurricular instruction
  • Collaborate with colleagues on curriculum
  • Study and make pedagogical adjustments based on data

As you can imagine, the rigors of such a list probably scared off more than a few candidates. But so what? Being forthcoming will ultimately save you grief in the long run; more than likely, it will also increase teacher retention, engagement and buy-in.  

Inspect what you expect
Admitting that you (the principal) can’t do it alone is only the first step.

The second step is setting clear expectations, demanding accountability and offering the professional development necessary to for teachers to meet those expectations. “Demand” sounds punitive and authoritarian, doesn’t it?

Chenoweth explains that, sure, successful schools “demand” accountability—but they do it without the “harsh, martinet-like system of control” that punishes those who do not obey.

In successful schools, principals assume that teachers want to be successful. That doesn’t necessarily make difficult conversations about student progress fun—but when teachers know that you want to help them improve, that you’re both playing for the same team, it does make these conversations easier.

Marygrove College’s Free Principal Coaching Guide
WithinPrincipal Coaching Guide the last few decades, the role of the principal has changed dramatically. In addition to all of the administrative and managerial duties he or she organizes behind the scenes, principals are also expected to design effective curricula, improve teaching and learning, assess, motivate and inspire.

So how does one person accomplish all of this? If you’d like to know more, download our Education Leadership Principal Coaching Guide for free.

Topics: Educational Leadership, Educational Leadership Degree, Educational Leadership Master's Programs, Role of Principal in School, Successful Schools, Developing Teachers

Principal Coaching: Building a Community in 3 Simple Movements

Posted on Mon, Jul 23, 2012 @ 09:07 AM

Principal Coaching GuideWithin the last few decades, the role of the principal has changed dramatically. In addition to all of the administrative and managerial duties he or she organizes behind the scenes, principals are also expected to:

• Design, implement and refine effective curricula

• Offer instructional support and improve teaching and learning

• Understand and implement ongoing student and leadership assessment

Motivate and inspire their community of students and teachers

How does one person accomplish all of this? Our guide will help answer this question; it will also help get you started on

• Building a community

• Improving teacher quality

• Improving student performance

Click here to download our Principal Coaching Guide

Topics: Educational Leadership, Educational Leadership Degree, Educational Leadership Master's Programs, Role of Principal in School, Online Master's in Educational Leadership, Successful Schools, Developing Teachers, Free Downloadable Resources

5 Student Intervention Strategies Used By Successful Schools

Posted on Tue, Jul 17, 2012 @ 09:07 AM

InterventionAverage or low-performing schools do not become successful schools through good will and blind luck; they are successful through deliberate planning, tenacious follow through and stubborn refusal to accept the fact that 70 percent of high school freshman are reading below their grade average; that 40 percent of students drop out of school; that we spend $2.6 billion a year replacing teachers because they do not receive the proper training or support to transform low-performing schools into successful schools.

Below are 5 student intervention strategies boiled down from William Parrett and Kathleen Budge’s book, Turning High-Poverty Schools into High-Performing Schools.  

1. Create a Unified Instruction Strategy

Without a unified vision—one that is based on coherent instructional programs designed to meet state and district standards—there will be no standard by which to evaluate what happens in the classroom. Successful schools have a set of common, core values—and everyone subscribes to them.

2. Provide Student Intervention

Successful schools do not implement a conditional approach to student instruction. In other words, “good” schools not only buy into the notion that all children—regardless of their socioeconomic status, race or gender—can learn, they also provide the additional support and student intervention strategies necessary to make this notion a reality. No school can choose its student body—nor should it want to. Rarely (should we say never?) will a school have equally motivated, well-nourished students who come from safe neighborhoods and a stable home. Successful schools meet each student where s/he is at, not the other way around. To accomplish this, schools must use targeted student intervention strategies: additional support—small-group and individual tutoring—that happens outside of the traditional school day, week or year.

3. Ensure That All Students Develop Literacy Skills

Reading is, according to Parrett and Budge, “the gateway skill to other knowledge.” Start with reading. End with reading. Of course there is a lot of important stuff in between, but if students cannot read, how can teacher leaders expect them to accomplish the rest of it? To ensure that each student is literate,  successful schools must design a comprehensive approach to reading that

    • Begins with an analysis of student needs
    • Understands how poverty impacts literacy
    • Assigns students—based on an analysis of data—to a targeted, student-specific intervention group that meets the student where s/he is at.

    4. Use Research-Based Models for Professional Learning

    Student and teacher learning are inextricable from one another; they are, as the saying goes, “two sides of the same coin.” What Parrett and Budge are suggesting is that once students’ needs are identified, it logically follows that in order to meet those needs, the learning needs of the teacher leaders must also be identified. Try using a vertical approach to professional learning: pair a 5th grade teacher with a 6th grade teacher; these duos will not only observe one another, but collaborate and engage in a dialogue guided by the school’s core vision.

    5. Engage in Continuous Data-Based Inquiry

    Parrett and Budge suggest that “second only to the development of caring relationships in schools” is the collection, evaluation and response to data. Here are several steps used by successful schools:

      • Identify the problem
      • Gather and analyze the data
      • Set goals
      • Select and implement a strategy solution
      • Evaluate whether or not the strategy is working
      • Rinse and repeat
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      Topics: Educational Leadership, Educational Leadership Degree, Educational Leadership Master's Programs, student engagement, Role of Principal in School, Online Master's in Educational Leadership, Successful Schools

      Increase Student Achievement in 5 Easy Steps

      Posted on Tue, Jul 10, 2012 @ 09:07 AM

      Cover of William Parrett and Kathleen Budge's BookIn the forward of William Parrett and Kathleen Budge’s recent book, Turning High-Poverty Schools Into High-Performing Schools, Michael Copland describes standing in front of the faculty in an after-school meeting to discuss data regarding student achievement.

      Copland recalls presenting the information on an overhead projector and stoking his colleagues to produce a dialogue that would help him better understand the unsettling gaps in student achievement. To him, the problem seemed blatantly obvious: The needs of the students—who, by the way, came from one of the poorest areas in the district—were not being met.

      At this point, the hands of several teachers went up. Although they were bothered by the fact that their students were struggling, Copland noticed a pattern in the faculty’s rhetoric: “How can you expect us to teach our students at the same level as students who come from a middle-class, two-parent household?” Does this sound familiar?

      Copland recalls working hard to push the conversation into critical and self-reflective direction, but ultimately, it regressed into scapegoating and blaming students and their socio-economic “maladies” instead of taking ownership for the lag in student achievement.

      The general consensus in the room seemed to be that what the school and the teachers needed to “ensure adequate learning growth” was not a more effective approach to teaching, but better students.

      The purpose of this “blog” (which is quickly turning into an article) is not to rehash Copland’s or Parrett and Budge’s 220 page argument in its entirety—there’s not enough time or room for that. We would, however, like to emphasize a few of Parrett and Budge’s simple action steps that the authors argue are intimately connected to increased student achievement:

      1. Learn Their Names
        We’ll keep this one short and sweet: High-performing, high-poverty schools, regardless of how large the student body is, know every student by name. No excuses. No exceptions.

      2. Start Student Advisories
        Schools should strive for positive and caring relationships not only between adults and children, but also between peers; this won’t happen on its own. Parrett and Budge refer to a rural school in the West: Despite the fact that the school was relatively small (400 students), many of the students reported feeling disconnected from teachers and their peers. The principal’s commitment to providing his students with a nurturing environment led him to reorganize the school day to include an advisory program. As a result, all faculty, including the principal, became mentors to a group of 18-20 students and stayed with this same group until their graduation, meeting briefly four days a week.

      3. Create Smaller Learning Environments
        In large or moderately large high schools, those committed to student achievement often provide incoming freshman with a protective, smaller learning community—or “academy.” While still a part of the high school proper, the academy allows new students to gradually transition into the larger school while working with a smaller group of students and a core group of teachers.

      4. Engage Parents, Families and the Community
        If administration wants to see increased student achievement, they also need to know when it is time to close the books and move beyond the classroom. Often, the only experience parents have with teachers and administration is punitive, which undermines the school’s attempts to nurture relationships with students and their families. If you want to gain your students’ trust, you must also earn the trust of the parents.

      5. Conduct Home Visits
        In his article, “Involvement or Engagement?” Larry Ferlazzo describes the parent community education program used by his Sacremento, California high school. Luther Burbank is an urban school of 2,000 students. In spite of the large student body, every summer its staff makes hundreds of visits to the homes of incoming freshman as well as the older students who have not successfully passed the High School Exit Exam. The goal for Ferlazzo and his staff is “not just to tell students and their parents what to expect when they enter high school or to harangue them about the need to work harder to graduate.” The staff at Luther Burbank knows that parents know something about the child they have spent more than 14 years raising, so instead of talking, they’ve decided to start listening.


      The statistics on the number of failing schools throughout the country and in Michigan puts us on notice that change is necessary if we are to salvage a whole generation of young people. Marygrove College’s Master of Arts in Educational Leadership program online is committed to preparing you to be a leader in this movement.

      You should also know that Marygrove College has reduced tuition rates for several online graduate programs by 19 percent! This is one step—amongst a few others—that the college is taking to ensure that a Marygrove education is an achievable, financially-sustainable investment.
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      Topics: Educational Leadership, Educational Leadership Degree, Educational Leadership Master's Programs, student engagement, Role of Principal in School, Online Master's in Educational Leadership, Successful Schools

      Parent-Community Education Programs Impact Student Achievement

      Posted on Tue, Jun 19, 2012 @ 09:06 AM

      It’s an academic felony to begin any piece of writing with a dictionary definition, bParents and teacher discuss student progressut forget that for a minute and consider the difference between the following words:

      Involve: to enfold or envelope—which signifies the act of doing to.
      Engage
      : to come together and interlock—which signifies the act of doing with.

      Here’s the point: Schools sincerely want a more effective parent community education program; they know and hundreds of researchers know that school-parent partnerships are intimately related to student achievement. That being the case, it’s time we reconsider how these relationships are cultivated, beginning with how we define the parent-teacher relationship.

      A school striving for family involvement talks; it makes a list of projects, needs, fundraisers and tells parents how they can help. But schools who engage rely on their ears; they view the school-parent relationship as a partnership, a reciprocal relationship where faculty not only leads, but also listens and allows itself to be led by parents.

      Here are some suggestions for improving your school’s parent community education program:

      Stop Talking. Start Listening
      In his article, “Involvement or Engagement?” Larry Ferlazzo describes the parent community education program used by his Sacremento, California high school. Luther Burbank is an urban school of 2,000 students. In spite of the large student body, every summer its staff makes hundreds of visits to the homes of incoming freshman as well as the older students who have not successfully passed the High School Exit Exam. The goal for Ferlazzo and his staff is “not just to tell students and their parents what to expect when they enter high school or to harangue them about the need to work harder to graduate.” The staff at Luther Burbank knows that parents know something about the child they have spent more than 14 years raising, so instead of talking, they’ve decided to start listening.

      Don’t Forget the Dads
      In 2004, National PTA surveyed 2,700 men to find out how schools could better engage fathers and here are a some of the things they found:

      • Nearly half of the men who responded to the survey said that they don’t join the PTA because they aren’t directly asked
      • 71 percent of men who responded said they are not involved because of time constraints
      • Nearly half of the men who responded said that they want their volunteer roles clearly defined

      Here are a few solutions: When you are reaching out to parents, don’t use a blanket approach. It may be more work, but men need an overt invitation. Try creating two separate advertisements for the same event: one for each parent. Men want fewer meetings and when there are meetings, they want them to be solution-oriented. Men care about student achievement, but they want you to clearly define expectations—in the advertisement you custom tailored for them!—from the outset. 

      Speak Their Language—Literally
      Keep in mind that for many parents, English is a second language, one that they are often struggling to negotiate. Emails and newsletters should be bridges, not barriers. It doesn’t matter how many print or electronic campaigns you send out if parents can’t read them.
      Here are a few solutions:

      • Find out the languages spoken by families in the school and translate the materials that are sent home with students, or through the mail, into each language.
      • Find out if families need help securing an interpreter for workshops.

      Are you interested in becoming the driving force behind student achievement? Do you want to pursue an online education master’s degree and make a greater impact on your school and community? If so, learn more about Marygrove College’s Master of Arts in Educational Leadership program online!

      You should also know that as of March 26, Marygrove College has reduced tuition rates for several online graduate programs by 19 percent! This is one step—amongst a few others—that the college is taking to ensure that a Marygrove education is an achievable, financially-sustainable investment.

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      Topics: Educational Leadership, Educational Leadership Degree, Educational Leadership Master's Programs, student engagement, Role of Principal in School, Online Master's in Educational Leadership, Successful Schools

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