What did you do in practice?
We began by focusing on a high population area where we don't have a lot of parent participation, an apartment complex. The principal took coffee and donuts to engage with families. Next, we improved upon an event that already exists: kindergarten orientation. The superintendent grilled hot dogs, parents met other parents and teachers, and gained lots of information. In the spring we followed with a revamped middle school orientation. Transitioning students, and their parents, participated in a low-key evening of food, walks through classrooms and comfort building in the new setting.
Why did you do this implementation trial?
In our rural community, transportation is one barrier that makes it difficult to engage with parents, so we went to them. Admin is seen as "this cloud above" and coffee and donuts challenged that idea. Kindergarten orientation had been more formal and one-way communication in the past. Similarly, parents had been left out of their child's transition to middle school. We wanted to create opportunities for parents to be able to ask their questions and for teachers to get to know their families.