Why parent engagement and trust begins with listening

Woman with son meeting with teacher

It’s been a tumultuous two years for school districts and their families. 

K-12 schools have been at the forefront of debates and policy discussions fueled by concerns around vaccine and mask mandates, critical race theory, sex education, and health and safety.  School board meetings across the country have turned into heated debates, and parents are voicing their concerns through petitions, letters to school leaders, emails to principals and teachers, viral social media posts, and other avenues. 

As a former teacher, I’ve seen firsthand how every interaction is an opportunity to strengthen school-parent relationships. That’s why it’s critical for school districts to have a plan in 2022 for proactive two-way communication that prioritizes listening and trust

The customer service approach

Parents are more engaged than ever, according to EdWeek. Many school districts are seeing more parents in meetings and parent-teacher conferences, and communication among underserved families has increased. 

This is great news because family participation in academics is strongly tied to student achievement. And authentic parent engagement — rather than requests for input that are just for show — builds trust. 

However, when inquiries pour in from every direction and channel, responses are slow, siloed, and inefficient. Problems often escalate, and trust and engagement begin to suffer. For school district leaders, managing this increased communication can seem impossible amidst the chaos. 

“Parents want to get involved while knowing information and participating in their children’s education. Now more than ever, we need to listen.”
– Tara Helkowski, Public Information Officer, Fauquier County Public Schools

With staff turnover and rampant misinformation as top concerns, successful school districts are turning to an approach once considered to be needed only by retailers and restaurants: superior customer service.

By implementing a customer service approach, your district can build a culture of trust in your schools — providing parents consistency and certainty in an ever-changing environment. Especially as parents become increasingly fatigued and frustrated, this approach creates an environment where families feel they can easily voice their concerns, ask questions, and get answers when they need them. 

K12 Insight recently created a guide with five strategies you can use to start strengthening relationships with your school community through listening. 

From collecting and analyzing feedback from stakeholders to reinforcing your brand story with exceptional customer experiences, you’ll learn how to: 

  • Support district-wide goals for better communication, collaboration, transparency, equity, and engagement
  • Streamline all inbound communications in one, district-wide unified inbox
  • Reveal needs and trends in real time so you can make proactive decisions for your departments and district

Download the guide to learn how to achieve higher levels of trust, buy-in, and engagement in your school district.

About the Author

Hillary Robbins
Hillary Robbins is an experienced educator who serves as a client success specialist at K12 Insight. She has a master of education in educational and instructional technology from Western Governors University.

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