Moving from communication to engagement

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Written by Paige D.


Welcoming students and families back to school is the first and most important task of the year. The impact this first impression has on relationships, academics, attendance and beyond can’t be ignored. How can transitioning from one-way communication to authentic engagement transform your classroom?


Consulting the experts


So, you’ve set up the perfect classroom and written impeccable plans—after all, you’re an expert and a professional. As every master in their field knows, leaning on other experts for additional insight is crucial to success.


And who knows more about your incoming students than their families?


That’s right. Every parent or guardian you meet has something to offer in regards to their child–something you can learn that will help you better serve your students.


Here are just a few facts that your families can share that educators would benefit from:

  • Each child’s strengths and struggles
  • What the family is in need of at the moment
  • Previous school or classroom experiences
  • Learning styles and preferences


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Building capacity


Once you’ve set the stage with an introduction, you can begin building what will become year-long partnerships. While some students and families feel totally comfortable in school buildings and classrooms, others can be overwhelmed by the unfamiliar environment and processes.


Rather than expecting parents to figure things out on their own, educators can make a recognizable difference by walking them through each process, explaining what to expect along the way.


Most importantly, you can make it known that you will be connecting with them regularly about their child’s progress and that they are welcome to initiate conversations.


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Connecting school and home


Many families want to continue the learning process at home but don’t know where to start. In a successful partnership, the teacher can easily share strategies for doing that and parents feel comfortable initiating conversations when they need help.


  • Make expectations clear. Is the assignment understandable by anyone (consider language, literacy, etc.)? TalkingPoints will not only translate messages for you, but the web platform will flag messages that are written above a 5th grade level to prompt teachers to consider family literacy. Learn more about writing for all family audiences here.
  • Provide needed materials. Does the assignment require any materials that cost money or that may not be readily available in the household? If so, reconsider doing this one in the classroom and sending home a simpler project.
  • Be as available as possible. While continuing to set appropriate boundaries after hours, remain contactable for parents and guardians who may have follow-up questions when you’ve sent home an assignment. This will strengthen their trust in you and your commitment to their child’s success.


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Including all families


Finally, it’s important to include all families in this process. With any engagement strategy, it’s easy to focus on the students or families with the highest perceived need. But with a tool like TalkingPoints that allows you to connect across barriers without any extra work, you’ll be able to ensure equitable communication.


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About TalkingPoints

TalkingPoints is an education technology nonprofit that drives student success by removing critical barriers to equitable family-school partnerships, such as language, time, mindsets, and capacity. Ten of the country’s twenty largest school districts trust TalkingPoints to create a district culture where all families, no matter their background, can engage with their schools. Our simple, intuitive family engagement platform offers the highest-quality human- and AI-powered two-way translated communication available — in 150 languages and counting. Named by Common Sense Education as “the best overall family communication platform for teachers and schools”, TalkingPoints leads to higher test scores and lower absenteeism, as shown by rigorous causal research that meets the ESSA Tier 2 standard of evidence. To learn more, view our TED Talk or visit

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