Oak Ridge program empowers parents to be ‘co-teachers’

e-Connections Post Oak Ridge

Parents of Oak Ridge Elementary School second and third graders met with their children’s teachers last month to set goals for what their children will learn in the hours spent at home, a discussion prompted by a newly launched family engagement program.

Called Family Teacher Academic Team (FTAT), the program is aimed at shifting the relationship between teachers and parents away from just celebrations and report card conferences to a true partnership focused on helping kids learn, says Oak Ridge Principal Doug Huscher

“There’s nothing wrong with celebrations and conferences,” says Huscher, “but our primary responsibility is education.”

At the December meetings, parents set goals for students and committed to help with learning at home. “We’re very excited about this,” says Huscher. “It has a whole bunch of win-wins in it.”

Oak Ridge was encouraged to try FTAT by the Parent/Teacher Home Visit Project, which sponsored a workshop on the program during its annual conference in October.

Huscher and four teachers spent six hours learning how to initiate an FTAT program in a session taught by Arizona teacher Maria Paredes, whose research shows that such a program can boost student learning in the classroom.

In a paper, Paredes called parents “the most underused and underestimated resource children have for academic success.”