Thursday, May 15, 2014

Building Parent Engagement: Tell Your School’s Story

The following is a guest post from Alison Anderson, who is a former teacher, tech integrator and now education blog editor. She is active an active member of the EdCampPDX planning team and continually focused on working to improve education for students in Portland and beyond. 

Parent engagement has always been a very bright spot on my radar when thinking about keys to success for schools. Lately, it feels important to distinguish between parent engagement and parent involvement. Both are important and something every school should strive for in order to create the most healthy student environment. But involvement, to me, can mean volunteering and spending time in the school and classroom- building those schools that have an instant sense of positive energy you sense the minute you walk in the school. 

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Today’s world is complicated - especially as technology continues to disrupt the different fields we have grown so used to living in. We can’t ignore that social media has completely transformed the way in which we receive and understand current events.  As this disruption starts to happen in our schools, we need to fully engage parents so that they not only understand, but feel absolutely comfortable with all the school practices and policies. 

How do you achieve that? With transparent communication and lots of it! Every school has a story, or a “brand” that captures the mission, the norms, the traditions and the values of the school population. 

As a school leader, communicating that “brand” is one of the most important jobs. But building a school “brand” is not like building a product. It’s not always easy and the steps are not always clear. There are some helpful resources emerging for administrators and edleaders who want to do this and do it right.
The more stories shared about what is happening within your school, the better your “big picture” becomes for school and community families. Schools build their brand when they share the stories that answer, “why do you send your child to that school?” That’s how a good reputation gets built. Parents and community members trust in their school “brand” and want to support school decision makers. 


  1. "Branding" a school. That's a great way of putting it. I've never thought of it that way, but now, I realize that I have walked into schools that were well-branded and schools that were not. This is an excellent way of looking at the dynamics of what's going on, school by school.

  2. I created a blog originally for communicating flipped classroom style for my students but it has quickly turned into an informative weekly or bi-weekly quick info for the parents. I have even had lower elementary parents (I teache at a pre-k-12 charter) request that I add them to my emailing list so that they can get updates. Our administrators assistant also sends out weekly newsletters to all parents who have provided an email with School Reach. Parents are well inform and that encourages a lot of involvement and engagement. Thank you for the helpful links to help further communications and "flatten the classroom walls". Ms. Sanders Newman International Academy, Arlington, Texas

  3. Many schools are providing parents with a school-branded mobile app that ties together all online content in one place, building the brand and providing a more effective communication channel. e.g.

  4. nice article and parents must needs to do obey this article