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Teacher, Parent, and Community Partnerships

It takes a village for students to succeed. Consider how you can expand and enrich yours to best support your students’ growth.

Relationships Matter

Establishing and supporting positive school-community relationships and building partnerships with students’ families is essential for students and schools to succeed. At the heart of these partnerships is the relationship that develops between teachers and students.

Research shows that students who feel safe and supported by adults at school are better able to learn. Students who love school and have healthy relationships with adults have a strong sense of belonging. They know they matter. When they feel that their teachers like them as individuals, they in turn like their teachers. Because of this relationship, they are cooperative and motivated to work hard.

Parent Partnerships

There is abundant research that demonstrates that students have a much better chance at success in school when their parents are involved and supportive. Parental involvement has an especially strong effect on students from low-income communities, children of low-education mothers, and for children of minority languages and cultures. Students with a supportive home environment have a higher probability of higher grades and test scores and staying in school longer. Successful parent involvement in schools often depends on three factors:

  1. Parents and teachers’ shared understanding of roles and responsibilities related to children’s school learning
  2. Parents’ belief in their ability to effectively support their children and meet teachers’ expectations of parent involvement. 
  3. A mismatch between expectations of parent involvement (e.g., supporting high expectations; helping with homework; attending school meetings; volunteering in classrooms) and parents’ available resources (e.g., time; transportation; child care; knowledge and skills).

Let’s take a look at how one school in Houston, TX created strong parent-school partnerships, which it credits as one reason for their students’ success.

Parent Liaisons

School-based parent liaisons often help bridge the divide between schools and students’ families. Liaisons support communication between the school and community and provide outreach for families to help them understand the education system and their important role in their children’s education. Liaisons also serve as resources for school administrators and teachers to convey information to parents and the community. They are only one part of the school-family partnership but parent liaisons are often — particularly with language minority families — the most visible school-based partner for families. Given how closely most parent liaisons work with families, they often have amazing insights into community and family partnerships that is often untapped. 

Assessing Relationships

Student and parent surveys are a great way to gain a better understanding of what members of your school community think and feel about their school. The results should open a dialogue with students and parents, and can often help explain why certain things are occurring within a school community (e.g., absenteeism is down and survey results show kids feel safe and validated at school).

Surveys are often developed by schools or school districts but it’s always great to see the types of questions and areas of inquiry that other school systems use to assess their student and parent partnerships. Let’s take a look at two examples and see if there are questions you might want to add to your school’s survey.

Maryland Public Schools: Bank of survey items used in student surveys

NYC Public Schools: Parent survey

Community Partnerships

Are your school’s partnerships well-established school-wide or do they vary by teachers or grade levels? As you watch the following video about the community partnership network, established by the non-profit “Community in Schools” in Chicago Public Schools, consider your school’s community partnerships and how you might expand them.