The title of this week’s blog is a hashtag that I created. You will understand why I created this and used it as a title as you keep reading and more importantly, you will hopefully take action with the hashtag. Read on.
In 2000, Malcolm Gladwell wrote The Tipping Point, a groundbreaking book that shared an analysis of why trends and ideas take hold. The book’s popularity proved its own theory. Gladwell suggests there are actually a number of patterns and factors that are at play in virtually every influential trend, ranging from the spread of communicable diseases to the unprecedented popularity of a particular children’s television show. If you analyze the evolution of any major phenomenon, the author suggests, you will find that the processes involved are strikingly similar. Gladwell’s theories center on three key areas that influence whether or not an idea or trend will become widespread: the Law of the Few, the Stickiness Factor, and the Power of Context.
Today, I want to focus the Law of the Few: You.
The Law of the Few contends that before widespread popularity can be attained, a few key types of people must champion an idea before it can reach the tipping point. Gladwell describes these key types as Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen. If individuals representing all three of these groups endorse and advocate a new idea, it is much more likely that it will tip into exponential success.
In order for family engagement to take hold and become a widespread phenomenon, we need to first enact The Law of the Few.
Connectors are individuals who have ties in many different realms and act as conduits between them, helping to engender connections, relationships, and “cross-fertilization” that otherwise might not have ever occurred. Mavens are people who have a strong compulsion to help other consumers by helping them make informed decisions. Salesmen are people whose unusual charisma allows them to be extremely persuasive in inducing others’ buying decisions and behaviors.
The time is now to make the changes necessary to engage every family in your school or district. You will not be sorry. Consider for a moment that there exists a family somewhere in your school district that very much cares about the success of their children, especially as it relates to their success in school. They want what is best for their child and they seek the opportunity for their children to exceed them in their quality of life. For generations, families have desired this simple goal, and for many generations, it has come true.
Our society and economy are changing dramatically. For the first time in anyone’s memory, our children may not (and in some cases cannot) exceed us in their quality of life. It is this very notion that strikes fear in many families, and it is because of this notion that we must engage every family in the educational lives of their children.
Family engagement in not optional. It is not an idea that can sit on a shelf until we determine we have the time or interest. It should not be relegated to the end of the list of important reforms we must enact. We are spending a great deal of time, energy and resources on learning all we can about twenty-first century instruction. We spend millions of professional development dollars searching for those ideas that will bring us success with every student – a success that still eludes us. In all of this, the notion of family engagement, that being empowering the first and most influential teachers of children, seems to somehow get lost. We simply cannot let that continue to happen.
So it is time for the engagement of every family of every child to hit a tipping point. We can no longer be satisfied with engaging some of the families, or the families that are easy to engage because they already are. We need a few leaders who will champion this idea and bring it to the tipping point so that family engagement resonates with every educator and becomes a priority in schools and districts everywhere.
Whether you are a Connector, a Maven or a Salesman, the idea that engaging families is essential to student success needs you. We need you to connect with your various circles of influence and spread the idea from school to school and district to district. We need you to help educators make informed decisions about ensuring that family engagement training for all staff is a central tenant of school improvement and student learning. And lastly, we need you to sell the ideas to educators, leaders, politicians and the communities in which they serve.
I need you to take action.
When you finish reading this blog, turn to your computer, tablet, iPad, phone or whatever device happens to be in your hand or in front of you right now and either send a tweet, a Facebook post, an Instagram post, a LinkedIn post or any other social media vehicle of your choosing. Re-post this blog everywhere you can think of. Let your followers and friends know that you think this is an important concept and that you will lead the charge, from wherever you are, to ensure that every family is engaged and every child is successful. Ask them to join you.
We need you to become a connector, a maven or a salesman, right now. To assist us in hitting the tipping point for every family, use the hash tag #TippingPoint4everyfamily. Any message you send about family engagement can include this hashtag. Let’s see what we can get going.
It’s that important. Kids and families everywhere are counting on us. We can do this.