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From Expected to Effective : Strategies to assess and modify communication efforts that support partnerships with families. Presented by Pamdora Williams LaSPDG Staff. @ laspdg. Considerations.

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From Expected to Effective: Strategies to assess and modify communication efforts that support partnerships with families

Presented by Pamdora Williams

LaSPDG Staff


  • This webinar is being recorded and will be available for viewing at www.laspdg.orgunder

Family Engagement Webinars 2013-2014

  • If you need to ask a question, please use the Chat Pod on your screen (NOTE: everyone can see your question)
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roll call
Roll Call
  • If you have not already done so, please use your chat pod and type your district/LEA that you are representing
  • If multiple people are in the room with you viewing this webinar, please type their names as well
people first language
People First Language

“People First Language puts the person before the disability and describes what a person has, not who a person is.”

Kathie Snow. (n.d.) A few words about People First Language. Disability is Natural. Retrieved August 1, 2012 from

family engagement new perspectives new definition

Family Engagement: New Perspectives, New Definition

The research is abundantly clear: nothing motivates a child more than when learning is valued by schools and families/community working together in partnership…These forms of [parent] involvement do not happen by accident or even by invitation. They happen by explicit strategic intervention”

-Michael Fullan (1997 a, pp.42-43)


Shifts in Perceptions about Family Engagement

Current Lens



One-Time Project


Shared Responsibility

Random Acts






Ownership & Continuous Improvement


Events Driven

Outcome Driven

Individual Responsibility


Se a r c h

family engagement – transformation definition

Web Search

I’m Feeling Lucky

Family Engagement Transformation Definition

Family engagement is a shared responsibility of families, schools and communities for student learning and achievement; it is continuous from birth to young adulthood; and it occurs across multiple settings where children learn.

Family Engagement definition

A well thought out process involving the entire school community, NOT a series of eventsto involve families….

Family Engagement definition

Family Engagement is the interaction between schools and families and the degree to which families are engaged in the educational lives of their children.

  • Family Engagement definition
  • A set of day-to-day practices, attitudes, beliefs and interactions that support learning at home as well as at school, NOT a one-time program

Parent/Teacher Conferences

New Discipline Procedures

Conversations in the community


School diversity


Anti-Bullying Policies



Notes home


Formal & Informal Communication

Crisis Response

Open House

Grades & Student Progress

Achievement Gaps

Back-to-School Night



Conversations during arrival and dismissal

Conversations in the office lobby

Emails and text messages

School Calendar

School Websites


goal objectives
Goal & Objectives


Identify effective strategies to assess and modify communication efforts with families


  • Gain knowledge of the components of an effective communication plan for families
  • Gain knowledge of strategies and resources in order to assess and modify current communication efforts with families

Also, tools, resources & promising practices to support your work!

what is communication
What is Communication?

Communication is a message sent and a message received

  • When communicating messages about school programs and student progress, ensure that the communication:
  • is two-way
  • is multi-layered
  • uses multiple channels
  • connects schools, families, students and the community.
  • is an ongoing process

Which is the largest contributor to the communication gap for your families?

  • Work schedule
  • Child Care
  • Language
  • Do not understand the system
  • Negative past experiences with schools
contributors to communication gap
Contributors to Communication Gap


  • Work schedule
  • Transportation
  • Child care
  • Language barriers
  • School viewed as an unwelcoming place
  • Lack of outreach
  • Not understanding the system
contributors to communication gap1
Contributors to Communication Gap


  • Teacher time limitations
  • Negative stereotypes
  • Lack of teacher preparation
benefits of school home communication
Benefits of school-home communication
  • Increases trust between schools and families
  • Encourages higher and realistic parental expectations
  • Serves as the foundation to other types of family engagement
  • Leads to higher degree of family commitment
  • Puts everyone on the “same page”

“We have always maintained that you never see our best work: it is what we do ahead of time to prevent the firestorm.

Use good communication to keep yourself out of trouble, so you don’t have to use it to mop up the mess!”

Why School Communication Matters, pg. 59

what is a communication plan
What is a communication plan?

A communication plan is a framework of goals, strategies and activities.

Schools/districts would use a communication plan when it’s time to disseminate information about a program or procedures and/or influence the behavior/practices of families and community on the behalf of the school.

a communication plan can
A communication plan can….
  • Be simple or complex
  • Be a road map
  • Help anticipate and solve for problems
is communication planning necessary
Is communication planning necessary?
  • Helps to identify and close any communication gaps
  • Keeps families on the same page and knowledgeable
  • Improves transparency
elements of a communication plan
Elements of a Communication Plan

Four areas to addressin a plan

  • Topic & Frequency
  • Various Approaches
  • Two-Way/Feedback
  • Analysis & Evaluation
written communication


Written Communication
  • Includes important information
  • Is clear and detailed
  • Standard written language
  • Invites response and feedback
verbal communication


Verbal Communication
  • Instructing
  • Following up
  • Asking for help
  • Revealing
  • Informally exchanging
  • Active Listening

Varied Approaches

Home visits, “each one, take one”, communication

system that fits the families’ needs

Intensive Strategies

(for some students and families)

Individual conferences as needed, written communications addressing specific concerns, communication in families everyday language,…

Selective Strategies

Teachers plan for all families

Newsletters, website, parent teacher conferences, grade book

Universal Strategies

two way communication


Two-Way Communication
  • Feedback loop makes communication two-way
  • Feedback and response system should be embedded in communication efforts

Feedback from families…

“We appreciate knowing that there are adequate opportunities for us to express our concerns and opinionsabout important issues impacting school.”

“Whenever I express my concerns and opinions, I know that they are seriously consideredby school and district leaders.”

reminders about two way communication


Reminders about two-way Communication
  • Be consistent
  • Multiple opportunities to contact and/or respond
  • Consideration given to feedbackand possible adjustments made
  • Two-way communication honors family opinions, builds trust, and invites family partnerships!
let s chat
Let’s Chat!

Using the Chat Pod…

share how you think the following written communication could be transformed from expected to effective?

are your famlies fluent in education ese
Are your famlies fluent in “Education-ese”?

“At Child-First Elementary, we hold attendance and punctuality to class as a fundamental priority in providing a sound educational experience for all inhabitants of our school. The OAT is responsible for processing all attendance and tardiness issues. Students parents, and guardians are responsible for directing such issues to OAT. Both habitual and unusual or catastrophic circumstances can all be effectively monitored and processed through OAT….”


Helpful Resources and Tools

  • Common Core Road Maps for Families
  • Communication Planning Template
  • Written Communication Rubric
  • Quick Tips: Verbal and Electronic Communication


  • On three levels of communication:
    • School building to home
    • Classroom to home
    • School district to community
  • On communication content, delivery systems, and frequency of communication
assessing communication
Assessing Communication

Assessing communication efforts will:

  • measure effectiveness of communicationefforts
  • provide information about families’ perceptions and feelings
  • Serve as a baseline for developing a communication plan
  • Protect against attitudes of complacency
a communication survey can address
A communication survey can address…
  • The school’s current communication patterns
      • Overall effectiveness
      • Opportunities to make-up for parents who didn’t attend an event
      • Enough support for support child with academics
      • Timeliness of notification
      • Adequate ways to give feedback
      • A person to contact for questions
  • The families’ communication preferences
      • Preferred methods of communicating information
      • Suggestions for improvement

Which is the preferred method of communication according to families?

  • Newsletters
  • Social media
  • Parent portal
  • Email from the school/district
  • Phone calls
parents preferred methods of communication
Parents’ preferred methods of communication

How parents want to communicate with school

Increasing Preference

Increasing Preference

consider results f rom existing surveys to families
Consider Results From Existing Surveys to Families


  • Title One parent survey
  • Survey during district/school accreditation process
  • State Performance Plan (SPP) Indicator 8 survey
  • Event evaluation survey

Communicate feedback with the stakeholders!

other ways to assess perceptions
Other ways to assess perceptions
  • Organize feedback forums
  • Administer a quick communication survey after a workshop or meeting
  • Generate a survey using Survey Monkey (
helpful tools and practices http www laspdg org content cfm id 418
Helpful Tools and Practices!
  • Survey Toolkit:
  • assess 4 domains
  • 3 Surveys
  • scoring guide
  • promising practices

To view example questions/stems visit


Not Harder

Work Smarter

  • Link to student learning
  • Individualized
  • Two way
  • Incorporate follow-up
example sharing data with families
Example: Sharing data with families
helpful resources and tools http www laspdg org content cfm id 308 schoolyearid 5
Helpful Resources and Tools
  • Parent Teacher Conversations about Learning Protocol
  • Example Compact and quick tips


Will be discussed during February 5, 2014 webinar

is communication planning necessary for building partnerships
Is communication planning necessary for building partnerships?

A parent responds…..




Family Engagement Webinars on Demand !!!

Getting your school organized for Family and Community Engagement [FACE] _ Series

Let's FACE It! Part 1

Let's FACE It! Part 2

Engaging Families of Elementary Students

Engaging Families of Middle & High School Students

Enhancing Partnerships with Families

Anne Henderson: Let's Go Beyond The Bake Sale

Communication with Families

Building Home-School Partnerships

Making Student and School Data Accessible and Meaningful to Families

Using Technology to Improve Academic Success

Language Used in the Homes

My Dialect, My Identity

Dialect or Disorder

building capacity
Building Capacity
  • When you leave today, what will you do with this information?
  • How will you share it with others in your district?
  • When will you share it? (Timeline)

Note: If you are on the district leadership team, this information will be useful in completing your district’s LASPDG 5 Year Plan

  • Please use your chat pod if you have questions related to this presentation
  • After this webinar, you may email questions to Pamdora Williams

The contents of this PowerPoint presentation were developed under a grant from the US Department of Education, #H323A110003. However those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the US Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.

we want your feedback
We Want Your Feedback!
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