Dear Stevenson Families,
As our students engage in our Hybrid Learning this spring semester, teachers and families together can collaborate to support our students during this transition back to school using the lens of social and emotional learning. School-family partnerships are critical components of student successes, so how to best engage during these uncertain times is worth exploring.
We all – families and educators alike – share a goal of learning. While teachers bring extensive professional knowledge of content and pedagogy to the conversation, families bring a deep knowledge of their child: who they are, where their strengths lie, and how they are growing and changing. Everyone involved can be engaged in promoting the most critical skills for success in school and life: social and emotional skills. So therein lies an opportunity to learn from one another about strategies for supporting a student’s development.
Here are 5 tips for using SEL Practices to foster strong school-to-home collaborations:
- Partner Together Around Shared Leadership
The structure that exists in schools – principals, educators, counselors, paraprofessionals, and parents and caregivers – is not as important as the collaborative relationships that can co-create a shared vision. Modeling communication practices with your child will also build their efficacy around reaching out when they need support.
- Promote Collective Creativity
Together, educators and families can identify the assets, strengths, and expertise our students’ bring to each conversation. We know parents and guardians are experts on their own children and family cultures. When school cultures invite families to participate in their child’s learning, we know student’s can feel empowered to add their voices, substantive contributions and energies to their own educational experiences.
- Communicate and Share Values and Vision
With each new challenge in returning to some sense of normal, there is a fresh opportunity to look at the growth from the last year and add to your vision of what it means to offer the best education for students. Together, we can share hopes and dreams and continually revisit our conversations throughout the year to measure your child’s successes.
- Promote a Positive School Climate
Trust is the firm foundation upon which an authentic partnership is built. In order to develop a relationship between educators and families, continual conversations with your child can help inform how often parents and caregivers should be contacting their student’s teachers. It can be useful and practical to think in terms of touchpoints; conversations or emails don’t have to be long or involved. Sometimes, simple check-ins can spark motivation and conversation around your child’s education progress. While short interactions might seem too small to matter, they can go a long way toward building an environment of trust and support that is conducive to positive school-to-home collaborations.
- Build Practices of Trust
Each individual – parent, teacher, student – can be engaged in their own learning and be willing to share and discuss their trials and errors with open communication and trust. Everyone’s successes and flat-out-failures can help us grow individually and together as a school community. This means that there are numerous opportunities to build a sense of trust, to build a sense of caring, to build a sense of “we are all figuring this out together” kind of collaboration.
Stevenson is in the process of continual improvement in our ability to teach and learn by focusing on each student by engaging in caring relationships. We know how crucial parents, caregivers and family members are given the chance to be a vital part of this process. Both research and practices shows that students will experience the most powerful form of Social and Emotional Learning possible through ALL the caring adults in their lives modeling collaboration and effective communication. I can’t imagine a more worthwhile process.
Molly A. Gosline
Molly A. Gosline, SEL Coordinator at Stevenson High School is a contributor in the Family Engagement Zoom Sessions led out each day by Dr. Mara Grujanac, Parent Engagement Coordinator at Stevenson High School.
*The content of this article was informed by the CASEL Competency Framework the ReThinkEd organization, specifically author Jennifer Miller.