CASDA recently hosted a professional development workshop for teams of administrators from the Schenectady City School District (SCSD) focusing on improving family engagement through the use of home visits.
The workshop is the fourth in a series of five workshops funded by The Schenectady Foundation as part of a larger year-long School Leadership Initiative. The entire Initiative, including one-on-one and small group coaching of principals and a series of professional development opportunities, is intended to transform education in the SCSD by building the capacity of schools to improve literacy instruction and parent engagement.
The most recent workshop, held on Thursday March 24th, allowed SCSD administrators and teams of parents, teachers, and educators from each school to learn about best practices in home visits.
The concept behind home visits, based on a national model entitled the Parent Teacher Home Visit Program, is designed to promote meaningful parent-teacher relationships. The goal of having teachers visit homes is to get to know the parent and student, discuss the family’s hopes and dreams for their child, and hear about what the family expects of them. The Home Visit Program is based on the concept that teachers and parents are equal partners who can work together to benefit a student’s academic and developmental success.
A key element of the model is that all students’ in a school are visited, regardless of academic performance or behavior issues, so that the visits are not associated with “a problem”.
Independent evaluations of schools utilizing the Parent Teacher Home Visit Program across the US have found:
Increased attendance and classroom participation
Decreased behavior problems
Increased academic success
Increased support and participation of families in schools
Increased communication between home and school
Increased capacity for teachers and administrators
The School Leadership Initiative workshops are led by CASDA Faculty members Rebecca Gardner and Elizabeth Smith, who each bring more than 30 years of experience in the field of education to the project. The workshops also offer principals and school teams the opportunity to collaborate and share strategies on building respectful relationships between homes and schools.
SCSD is committed to improving literacy and parent engagement throughout the District by using multiple strategies such as utilizing home visits, improving parent-teacher conference communications, instituting Family Centers, and implementing a variety of literacy and family friendly events at schools across the District. The Schenectady Foundation hopes to build the capacity of SCSD administrators and teachers to engage families and effectively support learning for all students.
For further information about the School Leadership Initiative or to learn more about opportunities in your district for coaching and school leadership development, please contact CASDA’s Executive Director, James Butterworth, at firstname.lastname@example.org.