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Engage Every Family: Five Simple Principles

Second Edition

Why haven’t we been more successful in engaging every family in the educational lives of their children? Why do we still struggle with the notion of engaging every family as a conduit to improved student learning?

This book outlines a pathway and process to engage every family, including those families that have been traditionally disengaged or disenfranchised. Updates to this second edition include updated research to ensure a firmer foundation for each of its five simple principles as well as:

– Reflections about implicit bias, equitable learning outcomes, and the role family engagement plays
– A deeper dive into the idea of family efficacy, or empowering families to work alongside teachers for improved learning
– A nuanced switch from building to developing relationships, and how trust is at the core of that subtle difference

Join Dr. Steve Constantino as he shares what he has learned and how he has improved the Five Simple Principles for family engagement and its powerful effects upon student achievement.

Engaging Every Family provides a framework for educators to build capacity in understanding where the children they serve come from. It lays out the principles for a successful plan to build upon the family relationships that will result in success for each student.

Tanna Nicely, PrincipalSouth Knoxville Elementary School, Knoxville, TN

Veteran teachers will note that the ideas and strategies come from someone who has been in the classroom and understands the different types of teachers that will be on any school staff. Strategies are presented in a manageable format and within reasonable time constraints. It is a practical fieldbook that will be easy for teachers to use.

Dana Leonard, Exceptional Children’s TeacherLedford High School, Thomasville, NC

In my work with nearly 400 public school systems across the country, spanning a dozen years, I have witnessed and experienced a wide range of issues, hurdles and home run ideas on the subject of Family Engagement. In this book Steve brings them all – and I really mean all – together. He has woven a narrative that is at once funny and profound, anchored in research yet ready for practical implementation. Without family engagement, America’s public schools risk obsolescence and without our public schools, our democracy will lose the foundation upon which it stands. Steve’s book will inspire every educator and then arm them with step by step directions to re-vitalize our schools.

Suhail Farooqui, CEOK-12 Insight

There is no measure equal to that which can be achieved when the school, parents, and community work in concert to meet the needs of the students in the school setting, thereby enabling students to become the productive citizens we all wish them to be thus producing the success that propels them towards achieving their desired goals . . . This easy read offers school districts a method to improve achievement. It is a win-win for school districts if they will just put in the effort to establish the parent and community relationships. A no-brainer!

Pamela L. Opel, Teacher, Intervention SpecialistGulfport School District, Gulfport, MS

This book empowers educators to apply action research to the challenge of involving parents in the improvement of student success.

Dr. Cathern Wildey, Adjunct ProfessorBrainSMART Program, Nova Southeastern University, North Miami Beach, FL

I love the activities, the section about data, and the step-by-step approach. It is all very practical. I love the systematic approach and that the reader really has to reflect on their school practice ... I can envision using this in my professional book club readings with my staff and in my parent workshops.

Margie Smagacz, K-8 PrincipalFranklin Fine Arts Center, Chicago, IL

In a time when education seems so complicated, leaders need books that offer simple steps that will give them the biggest bang for their buck. Where the important topic of parent engagement is concerned, this is THAT book! In Engage Every Family: Five Simple Principles, parent engagement expert Steve Constantino provides practical steps to engage every parent in the school community.

Peter DeWitt, Corwin author and consultant Series editorConnected Educators Series, Impact Series Finding Common Ground Blog (Education Week)

Who better than Steve Constantino to offer a compelling argument to practitioners and others still skeptical about the value of partnerships between home and school? As a former teacher, high school principal, and currently as a district superintendent, Steve brings a level of practitioner credibility, honesty, and exuberance to the work of family-school partnerships that few can match. Through his telling of his own personal journey as well as his presentation of relevant case studies, activities and reflective exercises for the reader, Steve provides us with the next go-to book on how to build and sustain effective partnerships between families and school staff that support the improvement of our schools for all children.

Karen L. Mapp, EdD, Senior Lecturer on EducationHarvard Graduate School of Education

This is the book I always hoped that Steve would write. He tackles the thorny issues that surround family engagement with candor and courage. The stories he tells and the cases he presents are drawn from years of experience, tempered with humor and compassion. Read this book. Try out what he suggests. It will transform your school.

Anne T. Henderson, Senior Consultant, Community Organizing and EngagementAnnenberg Institute for School Reform

In Engage Every Family, Steve Constantino provides a simple, real-world blueprint for schools to follow that will help those schools create the welcoming atmospheres and productive partnerships that truly serve children. He is the pre-eminent family engagement expert because he innately understands what it takes to connect with and serve families. Steve’s experience in actually implementing these successful strategies comes through in every chapter.

Tim Sullivan, President, School Family Media, Founder & President, PTO Today

Steve Constantino takes an in-depth look at building partnerships with families—the superintendent’s and the school district’s most important stakeholders. This book provides an array of blueprints and other reference materials specifically targeted to foster successful relationships with the community. Throughout my travels across the country, I encourage our members to share the great things that are happening inside their school buildings. Communities want to hear what’s going on. What Steve does is help meet an administrator’s individual needs when it comes to engaging with families and the communities in which they live.

Dan Domenech, Executive DirectorAASA, The School Superintendents Association

With this dynamic new book, Steve Constantino builds on his previous studies of family and community engagement. He provides an invaluable resource for educators who see the critical need to deeply involve all families as well as the broader community in the education of our children. Engage Every Family: Five Simple Principles, includes practical tools for assessing family engagement and measuring progress. An experienced teacher and building administrator who put families at the center of his work, Steve also draws on lessons learned from successful businesses. He has created a resource for treating families as customers and for generating collective impact leading to student success. I have seen his ideas in action and they work.

Dr. Sandy Husk, Chief Executive OfficerAVID

Engage Every Family: Five Simple Principles is a must read for school leaders who truly value building collaborative relationships with families. Dr. Constantino provides tangible strategies that are supported by research and which ultimately lead to improved student achievement. Readers will be challenged to reflect on their own beliefs and practices and develop skills to immediately implement in their own schools. If having engaged families is a core value of yours, I highly recommend this book.

Joe Clark, Ph.D., SuperintendentNordonia Hills City Schools

Engage Every Family: Five Simple Principles provides the field with an incredibly thoughtful, comprehensive, and engaging resource that addresses what often is the major disconnect within education-families. How to increase family engagement in the educational experience represents a major challenge to most educators. So much so that many educators often give up on engaging families in the educational experiences of their children. Before concluding that family disengagement is inevitable, educators should examine this important and powerful resource, which outlines essential ingredients for engaging families. The activities, case studies, and practical advice provided also offer readers important tools for creating an engaged culture. Finally, Dr. Constantino, a seasoned school leader, also anticipates potential areas of resistance and reluctance and provides thoughtful strategies for those educators who lean toward skepticism relative to family engagement possibilities. I highly recommend this book to all who seek to provide the strongest learning experience possible to their students.

Dr. Spencer G. Niles, Dean and Professor School of EducationThe College of William & Mary

Family engagement is critical to any school district’s success. When we are in close coordination with our parents, we have our greatest opportunity to meet the educational needs of our students. Steve’s book takes the complex issue of family engagement and provides solid and practical methods for educators to reach out to the parents in their community.

Karen K. Garza, Ph.D., SuperintendentFairfax County Public Schools

Quite simply, schools can’t improve without the support and engagement of families. Steve has provided leadership at every level with practical tools to allow for the maximum engagement of families to ensure each student reaches his or her full potential. Following five simple principles, school and district leaders will begin to build upon and strengthen the unique relationship between families and schools to maximize student achievement throughout a student’s educational experience.

S. Dallas Dance, SuperintendentBaltimore County Schools (MD)

If you want to learn about successful strategies schools can use to engage parents, then there’s no one better to talk than Steve Constantino! We’re all lucky he’s taken the time to write this practical guide sharing his years of experience.

Larry Ferlazzo, Teacher, Blogger and Author of Building Parent Engagement In Schools

With his new book, Engage Every Family: Five Simple Principles, Dr. Steve Constantino has provided a valuable resource for educators–including teachers, school leaders, and support staff. By emphasizing the critical role of parent engagement in the learning process, Constantino, in an age of standardized testing, complicated evaluation programs, and nationalized curriculum efforts, reminds us that one fundamental truth remains: families and parents matter. Strong schools do not flourish without engaged, empowered parents and families. Every school reform effort, no matter how well thought out and backed by empirical evidence, is destined for failure without the significant involvement of families. I will highly recommend this book to our teacher educators, the teachers they prepare, and the community they collectively serve.

Michael E. Spagna. Ph.D., Dean of Michael D. Eisner College of EducationCalifornia State University, Northridge

Engage Every Family: Five Simple Principles is a must read. It shatters the myth that many families are elusive and cannot be engaged with their children’s learning. Dr. Steve Constantino, a practicing superintendent and one of the nation’s leading thought leaders in family engagement, has a passion for and an expertise in this topic and takes the reader on a journey full of practical information while providing a framework, process and a prescription for success. Steve speaks directly to the reader and combines case studies, stories, ideas and humor to motivate you to action. The time has come in education to harness the most influential teachers of students: their families. Steve Constantino will show you how to do just that.

Dr. Paul Dulle, President and CEOEducational Research and Development Institute

The positive impact of parental involvement in students’ achievement is well documented. Engage Every Family; Five Simple Principles provides clear, common-sense pathways for educators to be more strategic in engaging parents and the community as partners in the education of their children. This is a “must read” for teachers, administrators, and those preparing for those roles. It will assist them in creating school cultures that not only recognize and value the roles parents and community members play as partners in enhancing student achievement, but also create processes to engage and include families of students and members the community.

Michael F DiPaola, Ed.D, Chancellor Professor, The School of EducationThe College of William & Mary