If there's one common thread among all the GEAR UP grant staff across the entire state of Texas, it would probably be the desire to get parents meaningfully engaged with the Texas GEAR UP program. But over the years, we've learned that this is no small feat—and for good reason. Parents (not unlike educators) often have responsibilities and demands that range anywhere from football-practice drop-offs to working extra shifts. And all the demands require their full attention. So it's understandable why trying to compete with that can be tough—but it's definitely not impossible. That's why we've sourced some clever suggestions from the National Education Association so you can work towards getting parents more engaged this school year (and hopefully through graduation).
It's likely no surprise that opt-in texting has proven to be one of the most effective ways to get parents more involved with their students' school activities. But what might be shocking is how nuanced this process can be. Sure, sending a text about an upcoming event is helpful, but by taking the time to establish a relationship with the parents—perhaps by focusing on a positive experience their child had that day at school—the chances of them responding positively to a particular call to action significantly increase. Of course, there are other times where it might be worth taking conversations offline and going to the parents instead of having them come to you. And depending on your goals, it might also be appropriate to incentivize parents through practical rewards like free dinner or a donated gift card from a local business. Whatever the case may be, when we can get parents more engaged with Texas GEAR UP, everybody wins (but especially the kiddos).