Project LIFFT

“Project LIFTT – Learning Ignited by Families and Teachers Together” gives families a “way in” to the productive work of educating children, one that is potentially transformative for the school community, as well as for the individuals involved. Working with community-based organizations that have a history with partner schools, we are developing a sustainable, productive parent-teacher engagement system. Parents will work with teachers directly in their classrooms, improving communication, advocacy, educational activities, and insight not only for the six parents and six teachers but for the fellow parents and fellow teachers with whom they share their experiences. Together, they will undertake an annual School Development Campaign that mobilizes the rest of the school around a challenge of critical importance.

Family-teacher engagement aimed at building resilient school culture.

Read below for more information or browse our Frequently Asked Questions.

The Alliance for Community Teachers and Schools (ACTS), an organization that provides evidence-based training and development to schools and communities, in collaboration with six Baltimore City schools, has developed Project LIFTT! – a new model of family-teacher engagement aimed building resiliency in school culture.

for a change in the school’s climate and culture.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)The LIFTT Team includes parents and teachers recruited to become leaders within the school community. Members collaborate in two ways throughout the school year to bring about school-wide change.

First, in pairs as Co-educators, they plan engaging and enriching activities for students, ultimately coming to see one another as resources. To enhance the traditional academic background teachers bring to the classroom, parents bring their experiences in the community. Parent partners can often bridge a cultural and experiential gap between teachers and students. Parents become co-educators – in the classroom, with small groups for differentiated instruction, or tutoring specific children, as the Teacher-Parent pair choose.

Second, as they strengthen their relationships in pairs and together as a Team, members plan and execute a School Development Campaign. Suggestions from school leadership, data analysis, and community support inform the LIFTT Teams to select an issue to address. These initiatives are the beginning of school-wide change. Identified issues may include safety/climate, attendance, self-efficacy, violence prevention, and raising expectations.

Parents build the skills to lead these initiatives through their bi-weekly leadership development sessions. In alternate weeks, LIFTT Teachers join with Parents for joint study and Campaign planning. In collaboration with other school leaders and partners, LIFTT Teams ignite a passion

Q: What is the value of Project LIFTT for a school community?

A:  Project LIFTT is an innovative model of family engagement that structures opportunities for parents and teachers to grow together as co-educators. The benefits for a school to participate in Project LIFTT are at least three: 1) parents will have expanded opportunities for productive engagement in the education of children, as well as for their own personal leadership development; 2) teachers will have structured opportunities to improve their family engagement skills and deepen their understanding of the community; and 3) a leadership team of teachers and parents will lead the school in a school development campaign.

Q: Who’s on a LIFTT Team?

Six LIFTT parents and six LIFTT Teachers volunteer to work together throughout the year as a Team, with one parent as Team Leader. They will serve as co-educators in classrooms 6 hours per week, and during the school year, the LIFTT Team will design and implement a School Development Campaign focused on a school-wide improvement initiative. In Year 1, LIFTT Team members are being recruited and selected by community partner organizations and ACTS, in collaboration with the Principal. In future years, the LIFTT Team will recruit and screen their replacements.

Q: What’s the job of a LIFTT Parent?

A: LIFTT Parents work closely with LIFTT Teachers in their classrooms for six hours each week.  Depending on the structure each school chooses, the parent may be matched individually with one teacher, or rotated with other parent volunteers aligned with the teachers’ needs. (Each LIFTT Team will decide the appropriate assignments for their school.) Parents will work in the classroom and possibly other areas of the school (office, resource center, etc.) six hours per week. Parents will also participate in a weekly 2-hour leadership development session and a monthly LIFTT Team meeting, as well as a monthly School Development Campaign meeting. Parents who volunteer for LIFTT will agree to work collaboratively with their teacher partners, keep in close communication with the LIFTT Coordinator, work with their Team Leader effectively, and mobilize other parents in productive family engagement in both school activities and education at home.

Q: What’s the job of a LIFTT Teacher?

A: LIFTT Teachers work closely with LIFTT Parents in their classrooms.  Depending on the structure each school chooses, parents may be matched individually with one teacher, or rotated with other parent volunteers aligned with the teachers’ needs. (Each LIFTT Team will decide the appropriate assignments for their school.) Teachers will plan with parents so that they contribute productively to classroom activities and will stay in communication with the LIFTT Coordinator and LIFTT Team Leader. On a monthly basis, LIFTT Teacher are expected to attend LIFTT Team meetings, and a

monthly planning meeting for the School Development Campaign. LIFTT Teachers mobilize other faculty and staff to participate in productive engagement with families.

Q: What happens if a parent has an emergency and cannot continue as a LIFTT Parent?

A: The LIFTT Team will take responsibility for replacing a parent who is unable to fulfill his/her year’s commitment.

Q: Why would a parent choose to become a LIFTT Parent?

A: Parents will have the opportunity to get an insider’s view of how classrooms operate, to support the education of children in the school, to help other parents navigate their interactions with teachers, and to lead efforts to improve the school. Training and support for relationship-building, communication skills, and leadership development will be provided throughout the school year. Parents will be able to apply these skills in future job settings.

Q: How does the teacher benefit from being a LIFTT Teacher?

A: Teachers will develop their family engagement skills, receive productive support in their classrooms from trained parent volunteers, and will have the opportunity to co-lead a School Development Campaign. In addition, Project LIFTT Teachers will receive Advancement Units (AUs) for non-school hours of work and will build strong relationships with parents and fellow teachers.

Q: What is the screening process for parent and teacher volunteers?

A: All prospective volunteers (teachers and parents) will be interviewed individually and asked to sign a Letter of Agreement making a commitment to Project LIFTT for the entire school year. Parents will also be subject to a criminal background check.*

Q: What is the School Development Campaign?

A: Each year, the LIFTT Team will collectively study issues of interest, including school data, surveys, and interviews, in order to select a topic to focus on. They will design a campaign addressing that issue, identify goals and objectives, plan activities, and engage the wider school community in the planned activities, to be implemented January-June.

Q: Are there opportunities to participate in Project LIFTT if you are not part of the LIFTT Team?

A: Many parents and teachers may be interested but not be able to provide the work required of a LIFTT Team member. However, there will be numerous activities throughout the year generated by the LIFTT Team, including the School Development Campaign, in which other parent leaders and those who may otherwise be occupied during the school day, will be able to participate. Volunteers are welcomed and encouraged to become involved with the School Development Campaign as early as possible. The School Development Campaign engages members of existing volunteer groups (School Family Council, Parent Teacher Organization, a neighborhood council), in addition to faculty, parents, and neighborhood residents generally. The Campaign will require collective data analysis and reflection to select an issue to address (attendance, literacy, Common Core, for example), strategic planning to ensure timely progress, and management of implementation.

*Note: Only relevant items on a criminal background check will disqualify a parent from becoming a LIFTT Parent.