Parent Engagement

Tellin’ Our Story: How Tellin’ Stories works in school

Community Building: Tellin’ Stories creates opportunities for families across race, class, language and cultural boundaries to connect to each other and to their school — often for the first time — through the power of story. In our Story Quilting series, each participant shares a story from his/her history and culture on a felt square. As the squares are sewn together, so too are the lives of those who made them.

Gathering Information And Developing Skills: Parents gain the tools they need during regular parent meetings to analyze the school climate, the facilities, and the quality of teaching and learning at their school.

Identifying And Prioritizing Concerns: By learning to ask the right questions, parents prioritize concerns and determine who has the power to address them most immediately and effectively. Tellin’ Stories supports parents in voicing their concerns at teacher meetings, school board and city council hearings, and in sessions with district wide officials.

Taking Action: Parents determine what actions need to be taken to achieve desired results and collectively, with the support of Tellin’ Stories, implement their plans. For example, a group of outraged parents organized a rally outside the 4th District Police Station to demand crossing guards at a busy intersection near their school. Since this visit, a police officer has been assigned to the post.

Collaborating: Tellin’ Stories facilitates collaboration among all members of the school, beginning the year with a parent-led community walk. Efforts such as these ensure a safe, healthy learning environment for the children.

Pass It On: Through cross-city parent leadership training and coaching, Tellin’ Stories is helping to mobilize highly qualified and committed parent center coordinators and leaders who are eager to strengthen their own family-school programs.

Evaluating: Every aspect of Tellin’ Stories’ work involves action and reflection. In addition to an in depth action research project examining the meaningful role parents play in their children’s schools, Tellin’ Stories involves all key stakeholders in assessing our work to increase our impact.



Schools determine how parents are involved. Parents’ roles are limited to fundraising, chaperoning and attending PTA meetings. Families and school staff together decide meaningful ways for parents to be involved in multiple roles: as teachers, supporters, advocates, decision makers, ambassadors and monitors.
Parents need to have specific skills to be resources.  Many lack the capacity or willingness to be involved.  (deficit-model) All parents are resources to their children’s schools.  Schools must recognize and cultivate the knowledge and strength of each family.
Starting point: Hold a PTA meeting and have parents sign up for committees. Starting point: building trust through sharing our stories.
Diversity is a challenge.  School culture  must be imposed on the educational community. Diversity is a strength.  School culture and leadership must reflect the diversity of the school community, and racism must be addressed.
School knows best, is solely responsible for decision-making, and passes knowledge on to families. Everyone has knowledge and has children’s best interest at heart. Collaborative decision-making.
A system-chosen standardized test determines accountability. Families, schools and communities hold each other accountable.
Parents who are not visible at the school are not contributing to their children’s education Parents who help their children at home to be ready for school each day are contributing to their education.
Underlying message: parent involvement is not important for school success.

Parent involvement/family-school collaboration is required for school improvement




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