Aqila A. Malpass

Rocky Ridge Elementary School
Birmingham, Alabama

Best Practices

In 2002, Donald Rumsfeld said the following: “Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are interesting because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are things we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don’t know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and others, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones.” When put into the context of education, unknown unknowns can hinder learning and negatively impact a student’s future. Unknown unknowns in education contribute to a parent knowledge gap. This gap is the full body of social knowledge and resources that
some parents are unaware of due to their lack of understanding and disconnect from the school community.

My mission is to equip families to improve learning at home. The elimination of the parent knowledge gap must occur alongside efforts to close the achievement gap, if the achievement gap is to truly be closed. Two best practices, that I find to be prerequisites to the occurrence of significant learning, are 1) the engagement and invitation of families in the education of children and 2) the utilization of data to inform practice. Using these best practices, I surveyed families about their needs. I analyzed this data and created Families As Partners in Education – a series of family meetings to inform and engage parents.

Due to the pandemic and the urgency for all stakeholders to support students, F.A.P.E occurs via recorded Google meetings where key information is shared and teaching strategies are modeled. The information shared helps families to understand learning progressions and connect their child’s performance to next steps. I role play and provide models of what support looks and sounds like at home and what learning looks and sounds like in the classroom. My format has proven to be highly effective and parents leave the meetings feeling empowered, invited, and informed. In order to continually improve and meet the needs of families, I request input and feedback before and after each meeting and adjustment accordingly. Parent emails like the one below help me to know that I am closing the parent knowledge gap.

“Mrs. Malpass, Thank you so much for your presentation on Thursday night. My husband and I both attended and found it very informing and helpful. Our twins (Mae and Anna) are in Kindergarten with Ms. H. We love that we are getting professional sources to help our daughters at home. Honestly we did not know a lot of the tips and ways you mentioned on Thursday to help bridge over learning at home. It really felt like a relief/earning all of this information to be able to help them better at home.” To get something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done. I want every parent to be invited, empowered, and informed.