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The Family…National PTA Redefines

By: Donna Hupe
Posted Tue., March 26, 2013

As I prepare for two presentations, which I will give at the Student PSEA conference in April, 2013, one particular workshop will focus on how teachers should work with parents. Renee Jackson, Ed.D, Manager, School Relations & Diversity for the National PTA sent me an email inclusive of information linked with effective family-school partnerships. What was most interesting in Dr. Jackson’s email was her eagerness to stress that in 2013 the term “parents” has expanded to be called “family”.

As Dr. Jackson continued in her communication, she stated that teachers will be engaged with “the family, rather than just parents, because research shows that many children today are in homes with individuals other than parents. The family can now include a caregiver, grandparent, aunt, uncle, and/or foster parent.” Teachers must also understand that parents can involve two who are married, two who are separated/divorced, or a single mom/dad.

One specific Standard, Standard #2, which is written on the National PTA website, documents “all families should feel that the school keeps them informed on important issues and that it is easy to communicate with teachers, the principal and other staff.” No longer will school handouts, newsletters, and or websites be the most acceptable means for communicating effectively on the parts of the schools. The National PTA would like to see “real partnerships that provide opportunities for teachers and family members to dialogue openly and honestly.”
The website article continues to say that “by achieving Standard 2, schools and PTAs can answer these questions with a resounding yes:

  • Does your school offer many different ways to communicate every day? 
  • Does the school or PTA survey families at least once a year to find out what’s on their minds? 
  • Are the principal and other school administrators easily accessible to any parent? 
  • Do the school and PTA/parent group make it easy for parents and families to build connections and communicate with each other?”

As an educator who worked with parents for over 31 years, I tend to agree that relying on printed communication is not always the best means for communicating what is happening in the school…in the classroom…and for the students. The most progressive districts throughout the country are developing electronic programs and processes that allow the family to work successfully with the teachers.
One example of a school which is using electronic communication with parents is the First Academy College Prep School in Orlando, Florida. They have adopted the use of Canvas K-12. In June, 2012, First Academy announced that they would begin using Canvas “to host virtual meetings and communicate more frequently with parents.” In other words…the once parent-teacher conferences are now evolving into virtual meetings.

For more information linked with family-school partnerships of the year 2013…check out the links below:

http://www.pta.org/programs/content.cfm?ItemNumber=1811
(Standard #2 - written by National PTA)

http://www.instructure.com/k-12
(Information about Canvas K-12)

http://www.instructure.com/news/press-releases/the-first-academy-college-preparatory-school-chooses-canvas-k-12
(Information about First Academy)

http://www.pta.org/members/content.cfm?ItemNumber=2149
(These are tips provided on the National PTA website on how to communicate with your child’s teacher.)

http://www.earlychildhoodnews.com/earlychildhood/article_view.aspx?ArticleID=359
(support of family-teacher partnerships) 
 

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Donna Hupe,
Education

Donna Hupe teaches ED 101 – Field Experience I and has been a Pre-Student Teacher/Student Teacher Supervisor at Saint Vincent College for the past five and a half years.