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State education agencies (SEAs) are increasingly employing family engagement strategies as a way to support diverse student populations and school improvement. Many SEAs are developing new approaches to incorporating family engagement programs into their education systems. Recently, SEA members in the REL Central region have expressed a need for effective strategies to communicate and engage with families around school improvement initiatives. In response to this need, REL Central will host the Using Digital Tools and Social Media to Engage Families in School Improvement Initiative webinar on October 23.

During the webinar, participants will be introduced to research-based resources: Partners in Education: A Dual Capacity-Building Framework for Family–School Partnerships (2013); and the BSCP Center Strategic Communications Toolbox for State Education Agencies (2017). They will also learn about digital and social media tools being used in the REL Central region.

Ceri Dean, president of Dean Education Consulting and a webinar presenter, explained that “families can have a positive effect on student learning when they are engaged in education in multiple ways. Families, teachers, and community agencies are important for establishing a school improvement support network.”

The challenge, however, is that most of the communication methods used by schools in the past (bulletins, website announcements, email, etc.) are not reaching the families.

To help webinar participants meet this challenge, staff from the Kansas State Department of Education will also share digital tools and social media strategies that districts have used to effectively engage families in the implementation of the Kansans Can School Redesign Project, which includes the redesign and study of 14 schools in seven school districts across the state. Jay Scott, secondary school redesign specialist and a webinar co-presenter, shared that “parents expect to be informed through consistent communication. We have to help schools navigate social media and other communication tools to find a good balance in communicating important information at the right time and in the right context.”

“Whether through a mobile device or computer, the use of platforms that are already in front of the people who you are trying to reach makes sense,” explained Carrie Germeroth, REL Central deputy director and the webinar facilitator. Dean and Germeroth agreed that SEAs may want to consider opportunities for using digital and social media tools to not only share information, but invite feedback from parents and family members.

Join us for the REL Central webinar Using Digital Tools and Social Media to Engage Families in School Improvement Initiative on October 23 at 1:00–2:15 p.m. MT. To register, go to the IES Events page: Using Digital Tools and Social Media to Engage Families in School Improvement Initiative.

You are also invited to share best practices for engaging families in school improvement with digital or social media tools. Join our Twitter conversation #FMengage, or email us at RELCentral@marzanoresearch.com.