Have you established a parent-friendly climate in your school? Find out by asking parents to complete a simple survey. Structure questions in checklist format wherever possible. Parents will be more likely to return a questionnaire they can complete quickly. However, be sure to provide space where parents can add their own comments, too. Ask parents:

  • To rate the effectiveness of your school’s current communication efforts. (Open houses, parent-teacher conferences, newsletters, social media, etc.)
  • What barriers prevent them from attending school events. (Transportation, child care, location of events, scheduling conflicts, etc.)
  • If they would like to learn more about working with their child at home? If so, what topics would they like covered? (Math, reading, science, homework help, etc.)
  • What types of services they would like to see the school provide. (Homework hotline, parent resource center, parent support group, access to the school library, etc.)

 What parents of successful students have in common


Studies have shown that parents of successful students have several things in common. They:

  1. Give their children household chores—which promotes students’ responsibility.
  2. Teach their children social skills—which helps students get along with others.
  3. Set high expectations for their children—which motivates students to do their best.
  4. Develop relationships with their children—which builds students’ self-esteem.
  5. Focus on their children’s effort instead of their abilities—which strengthens students’ resilience.

Encourage the parents of your students to do these five things—and reap the benefits at school! 




Technology offers new and exciting ways to bring literacy to students. Consider asking children's authors to participate in virtual school or classroom visits. Reaching out can be as easy as finding an author's Twitter handle or Facebook page and sending them a private message. Arrange short video chat sessions using Skype, Google Hangout or Facetime. During the sessions, have authors:

  • Read books aloud to students.
  • Talk about the inspiration behind their stories.
  • Discuss the processes they use to write, revise and publish their work.
  • Answer students' questions.

Seeing authors as "real people" can motivate students to read and write more. And it may inspire a few students to become authors themselves!


Peer Mentoring Improves School Engagement

Positive relationships at school are linked to improved school engagement and attendance for students. To promote such relationships, implement a peer mentoring program. Younger students will be inspired by the attention and guidance they receive from older students. And older students will strengthen their leadership and communication skills. Peer mentors can provide support with:

  • Transitions. Students entering elementary school, middle school or high school will benefit from the assistance of older students who can help them navigate their first year in a new school.
  • Social Skills. English-language learners and special needs students often need help establishing positive social relationships with older students. Peer mentors can help facilitate those relationships and serve as role models.
  • Academics. Sometimes students learn better from their peers. Pair students who excel academically with students who are struggling or with those who might need just a little extra help.


did-you-know  Did You Know?

AEW-2017Next week begins the 96th annual celebration of American Education Week. Check out the National Education Association's website for event ideas and promotional materials. #AEW2017



Quote of the Day

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“The research is overwhelmingly clear: When parents play a positive role in their children's education, children do better in school.”

Marvin J. Levine

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According to a new study by Duke researchers, teachers may hold the key to reducing student absenteeism in the early grades. The study followed a pilot program that helped elementary school teachers establish positive working relationships with parents. The teachers in the study:

  • Visited the homes of their students.
  • Used school-issued smartphones to engage in frequent communication with parents.
  • Helped identify specific barriers to attendance, such as health issues, transportation problems and parental needs.
  • Connected families to school and community resources to address attendance problems.

The results? Elementary school absenteeism decreased by an average of 10 percent. Keep this study in mind when addressing attendance concerns at your school. While you may not have access to the same resources, even small changes that support strong parent-teacher relationships can lead to great gains.


Communicate with Parents About Standardized Tests

Here are four things parents need to know before students take standardized tests:

  1. What tests will be administered during the school year? When will they be given?
  2. What is the purpose of these tests? How will teachers or schools use the results of these tests?
  3. What other means of evaluation does the school use to measure students’ performance?
  4. Should students practice taking the test?

After test results are in, parents need to know the following:

  1. How do students’ test results compare with those of students in other school systems? Across the country?
  2. How do individual students’ scores stack up?
  3. Are these individual scores consistent with the student’s classroom performance?
  4. What changes in the school’s educational program are expected based on the test results?




Being a school leader is rewarding—and challenging. Sometimes it can be difficult to keep a positive outlook, especially on days that aren’t going so great. A “feel good folder” can give you the motivation you need to turn your day around. Fill your folder with:

  • Complimentary emails from colleagues.
  • Thank-you notes from students and parents.
  • Articles about successful events at your school.
  • Photos of people who make you smile.
  • Favorite quotations.


What Makes a Successful Volunteer Reading Program?

There is no question that volunteer tutors can help students improve their reading skills. To be most effective, tutors need:

  • Training. Before working with students, tutors should have a basic understanding of the reading process.
  • Time. The best tutoring programs provide intensive help—at least 90 minutes per week with the same volunteer.
  • High-quality materials. Books and easy-to-read stories should be available. Tutors also need paper, markers, pens and pencils.
  • Structure. Tutoring sessions should include five elements:
    1. Reading material with which the student is already familiar.
    2. Analyzing words to improve word recognition.
    3. Writing, to teach the relationship between reading and written language.
    4. Reading new material.
    5. Modeling by the tutor of effective reading techniques and strategies.

did-you-know  Did You Know?

In 2016, the high school dropout rate among Hispanic students fell to an all-time low of 10%—and college enrollment for Hispanic students reached an all-time high of 47%.

–Pew Research Center


Quote of the Day

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“Your positive action combined with positive thinking results in success.”

Shiv Khera

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From digital textbooks to school-issued tablets, educators often wonder about the effectiveness of technology in the classroom. Studies on student learning with digital media versus print media found that:

  • Students prefer to read digital content over print content.
  • Students read digital content faster than they do print content.
  • Students believe their comprehension is better when they read digital content than when they read print content.
  • Students’ overall comprehension is better when they read print content.

So, what does this mean for educators? Experts recommend that they consider the purpose of a reading assignment when choosing the medium to use. If students will be asked to perform a basic skill, such as finding the main idea of an article, the medium doesn’t seem to matter. However, if a reading assignment will require deep comprehension, students may benefit from reading it in print.


Four Things Parents Want to Know

A new study from the Speak Up Research Project sheds some light on the type of information parents would like to receive from their children’s schools. Here are their top four questions:

  • Parenting skills. Consider surveying parents in your school to develop a list of topics they want to know more about.
  • Supporting learning at home. Offer workshops that show parents what they can do to support their child’s learning.
  • Helping parents become school leaders. Offer training in parliamentary procedure, understanding school budgets and evaluating school plans.
  • Preparing parents to be volunteers. Schools with effective volunteer programs offer regular training to parents. They have found that training also encourages volunteers to return more often.






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