Conversation starter tools

A participatory research guide to building stronger family, school, and community partnerships

The Conversation Starter Tools (CSTs) are a set of seven tools, including surveys, focus group discussion guides, and other protocols that schools, school districts, and/or community organizations can use to conduct participatory and community-driven research within their schools. The CSTs provide schools and community teams with a methodology for examining the landscape of family, school, and community engagement in their context and a process by which they can develop greater relational trust and craft a shared vision of how to build stronger partnerships. Through surveys and intentional conversations grounded in data, the CST process guides school and community teams in identifying educators’, parents’, and students’ beliefs on education, relational trust, and types of and barriers to family involvement in their own school communities. This participatory research is not intended to judge or assess schools, but rather to help schools map different beliefs and perspectives in order to develop relational trust with families and students and to create contextually relevant strategies to build stronger partnerships.