The ideas and strategies that follow are the product of a fifty-year journey—beginning as an adopted child of rural poverty to becoming an educator, author, consultant, spouse, and parent. If anything, my journey has taught me that there is not one way, one road, or one strategy that teachers and parents must follow. However, developing the best strategies cannot be done in isolation or without a willingness to defend, discuss, and debate the strategies that we have chosen. I have been enriched through my discussions, debates, and disagreements with my friends—Dr. Mary Bacon, Dr. Glenn Bascome, Dr. Melvyn Bassett, Diana Daniels, Patricia Korn, Dr. Donna McBride, Dr. Karen McCord, Dr. Noma LeMoine, and Milton Thompson--—educators who are also parents. Furthermore, my thoughts and ideas have been continually challenged through the more than 20 years of conversations with my wife, who has never been known to bite her tongue.
What strategies are you utilizing to increase student achievement and inspire parental involvement? With whom are you defending, discussing, and debating your thoughts and ideas? What data are you gathering, what results are you assessing, and whom are you crediting with success or blaming for failure? These are the types of questions those interested in becoming better teachers and parents are willing to ask. Hopefully, what follows will inspire you to ask such questions.
For the teacher who has been in the classroom for many years, who has seen so many needs of children and so little involvement from parents, you will find over 100 strategies, ideas, and practices to supplement those currently being used and as a reminder of those long forgotten. You will find that the text is large and sufficiently broken up with photographs throughout. Consider the information, bite-size tidbits of the types of strategies and practices that you may use to raise achievement and increase parental involvement.
For the new teacher, working with today’s children and families who may have a different cultural, linguistic, socioeconomic, or educational orientation, you will find a broad range of researched-based and research-responsive strategies to incorporate into your teaching arsenal. Whether a veteran teacher or new to the teaching profession, there are 5 questions, the answers to which will prove helpful in guiding your efforts of increasing both student success and parental involvement:
1.What level of achievement do you want students to achieve, and, what is the level of family involvement that you would find helpful in supporting your efforts?
2.What challenges or obstacles are hindering you from increasing student achievement or involving families to the desired levels?
3.What strategies will you utilize to raise the achievement levels of students, and the involvement of their families?
4.When and how will you assess the success of your strategies?
5.What new or revised strategies will you use?
Consider the ideas, strategies, and practices outlined in this book within the context of answering these 5 questions. Use those ideas and strategies that meet your needs; use the practices that are most appropriate for your students; assess their usefulness; keep those that work; and continue seeking new strategies that will best increase learning for your students and involve their families in supporting the process. Share the ideas and strategies with colleagues as a means of furthering professional discussions in regard to increasing student achievement and family involvement within your school community.
There are no sacred cows, i.e., grading practices, seating arrangements, testing structures, classroom organization, or parent communication. Hold on to those strategies that are working. Reconsider, adjust, or discard those strategies that are not working. Do whatever you must do to become a successful teacher so that students may become successful learners.