E-mail communication is complex. Weekly messages are sent (with all good intentions), but are they received (and shared in the same spirit)? Artificial intelligence pioneer, Herbert Simon, once said “…a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention…” Am I contributing to “Information Fatigue Syndrome” by pumping out “stuff” weekly or am I contributing ideas, adding voices, sparking interest, contributing to a process? How much is too much? Enough? Inadequate? How will I know? Who will tell me? Liping Ma and her co-researchers pointed out that the relationship between parental involvement and academic performance varies across urban, suburban and rural geographic locations. They also noted that we know little about how parent engagement is shaped by the type of school setting. If it is assumed that urban, suburban, and rural schools each have a unique set of characteristics and problems that may impact the degree of parental involvement, then perhaps our project, with its range of school participants, is well-positioned to make important contributions in this area.
School participants are enthusiastic about making positive changes to engage others and enhance mathematics learning; they are also realistic about the numerous and seemingly competing demands for their time and attention. The model offered through this project provides ongoing support and continuous guidance for making the vision for parent engagement in mathematics a reality. It appears that developing an effective parent engagement plan in math may require administrators to take a systematic approach to raising staff awareness about the importance of parent engagement in math, provide opportunities for all educators to discuss parent engagement ideas, and encourage divisional math leaders to tailor parent engagement plans to support the math development needs of their students.
Data from the initial survey and subsequent school interactions informs project decision making and group actions with regards to how best to support school teams and provide target guidance for developing parent engagement in mathematics. The most beneficial parent engagement plans tend to be characterized by small, systematic activities that reinforce the value of math (e.g., featuring family math problems on school websites, sending home math-in-a-bag kits) and help parents understand and support the math their children are doing (e.g., sending math unit introduction letters home to parents/guardians, parent videos demonstrating multiple ways children can solve the same math question or problem).