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Building Consistency in Family Engagement Through Common Process and Tools

Quarterly family phone calls to surface needs


When students transitioned to remote learning in light of the pandemic, Cedar Rapids Community School District knew that communication with families would be of the utmost importance. With students at home and the pandemic creating uncertainty for families, the district needed to stay in close contact with families – not only to share updates from the schools but also to know what supports families needed. The district acted quickly to provide guidance for all schools to connect regularly with families.

"We knew that this year families were going to be more important than ever and more connected to what their students were doing. About a third of our students started the year learning remotely so families needed to be intimately tied into the learning that was happening. Families needed to understand how they could best support their learners. Whether families were dropping students off or if they were on the bus, they needed to know what was going on in a way that was maybe deeper and more critical than ever before. This was something that we had never done before in a meaningful way. It was big to put a lot of emphasis on family engagement." - John Rice, Executive Director, Teaching and Learning at Cedar Rapids Community School District


The district focused on personal phone calls as the main point of communication with families. Through quarterly phone calls to families, the district established a consistent connection point with families and students. The specifics of those calls – how to call, and what to say – were laid out clearly in guidance from the central office, ensuring that families across the district would have a quality connection with their school. On the calls, staff checked in with families and students to see how they were doing and to determine if there were any areas where the district could provide support. All teachers were asked to make phone calls and engage in the process, helping to build on and further develop relationships between teachers and students and families.

This strategy is a part of TLA's Hop, Skip, Leapfrog release, which explores the concrete ways in which schools and systems pursued student-centered innovation during COVID-19. Explore the full guide to find additional strategies, insights, and resources.