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Meet the BFMS Staff

Breathing new life into a traditional school meet-up wins approval from teachers and families

It is not uncommon at the middle school level for parent involvement to decrease. We learned that parents actually wanted to participate more than they were seemingly “allowed.” Our learning journey aimed to involve families more, and not only promote involvement but parent engagement. Our hack would introduce families and school staff to each other in a more comfortable and fun way.


Information on this page is provided by the innovator and has not been evaluated by HundrED.

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Target group
January 2024
There are standards that we all have to meet in schools but we also need the opportunities to change course, relax, laugh and adjust expectations. Teachers are accustomed to ritual and some discomfort comes with change, but this also opens the door to new ways of doing things.

About the innovation

Why did you create this innovation?

The Big Beaver Falls School Area team wanted to find ways to involve families more and promote parent engagement among middle school parents and staff. We learned that families didn’t feel wanted nor did they feel like they were being heard by the school staff. Our hack intended to introduce families to a more comfortable way of connecting with parents and school staff.

What does your innovation look like in practice?

We purposely held the event on our annual meet the teacher night when these staff are already in the building. It was a one hour activity, from 5-6 pm. In terms of logistics, we received permission to close the street in front of the school for our set-up. During the course of the hour, students in 7th and 8th grade had the chance to renew the acquaintance of former 6th grade teachers and 6th graders got to meet their future 7th and 8th grade teachers. Each grade level made an informational brochure for the parents. Two district signature spirit items were well-received: a “Tiger Towel,” and a district branded bag.

It was reinforcing to hear comments like, “This was the ‘nicest’ thing we have had in a long time.” Connections were made all around and the relaxed atmosphere helped parents and teachers connect. It was a low-pressure event for teachers. Gaining familiarly with each other was the only goal.

How has it been spreading?

Our next steps will go in several directions. Importantly, we will meet with the team and administration about future plans. We also want to plan another small hack and survey the middle school teachers. The more teachers and staff hear parents say that they want to be involved, the more it hopefully encourages them to create opportunities.

Creating a dedicated middle school team is another need. Professional development-wise, it would be great for the teachers to be involved in the human-centered design process and learn the benefits of this approach. Finally, we want to plan a fun event that specifically builds relationships between teachers and parents. When relationships are built, it’s easier to come together and act collaboratively.

If I want to try it, what should I do?

Enlist a team of teachers and parents who are willing to commit and remain positive even through roadblocks. Perseverance will get you to the “wow” of rewards. While family and school engagement is serious work, keep it relaxed and fun for the team. That goes a long way. Keep in front of you that it’s ultimately about the students; that is the common connection. Do what is best for them.

Spread of the innovation

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