FIPSE LSDL Modules

 

Engaging Families PLE: Module 4

Engaging Families PLE

Powerful Learning Experience #2

Printable Version: Teacher Notes

Printable Version: Engaging Families PLE

Brief Description:

This PLE focuses on strengthening students’ knowledge, skills, and abilities to engage diverse families and address the needs of diverse learners. Building upon the preceding PLE, this experience will help educators to continue to reflect upon themselves as socially just leaders, expand definitions of family engagement, seek out diverse perspectives, and begin to formulate context-specific family engagement plans.  This PLE emphasizes internal and external factors and bidirectional communication 1) from the classroom to the school system and  2) from the collective school system to the family system.  Readings, discussion, activities, and assignments both in and out of class will help students to navigate this multi-layered process successfully.


Activity #1a: (Out of Class) 

Taking a Look at Me:  What do I Believe about Families? Part A                                                             

(Part B to be completed at the end of the module)

Students will respond in writing (or on video) to the following:

  1. Describe how your parents supported your educational success at home or at the school and how this support may have changed over time? (Grade school, middle school, high school, college)
  2. Complete this sentence “A good parent should support their children’s educational success by….”
  3. Taking into account the demographics of your school’s families, describe how parents at your school support (or don’t support) their children’s educational success.  Does this differ by demographic group?  If so, why do you think this is the case?
  4. Taking into account the demographics of your school’s faculty and staff, describe how teachers and leaders in your school involve families in students’ educational success.  Does this differ by demographic group?  If so, why do you think this is the case?

Activity #1b: (Out of Class)

Using the Four “A”s text protocol, students will read the following article:
Smith, J., Kuzin, C.A., De Pedro, K., & Wohlstetter, P. (2009). Family engagement in education, seven principles for success. California:  National Resource Center on Charter School Finance & Governance.

Activity #2: (In-Class)
Pre-Reading Debriefing
Think-Pair-Share  
                                                                                                           

Think

Individual students review the Four “A”s (Assumptions, agreements, arguments, aspirations)

Pair

In groups of two or three, students will use the protocol to discuss their reactions to the reading. Each student speaks about their ideas about the article while the other listens carefully (3-5 min.). Then they will reverse roles (3-5 min.). Finally, there is a five-minute open discussion among members of the student group to discuss what this means to their work as current or aspiring school leaders.

Share

Volunteers willing to share discuss their reactions to what was read and discussed regarding the importance and feasibility of family engagement in their schools.


Activity #3: (Out of Class)

Taking a Look at My School:  What do I See?

Students will conduct a scan of the school in which they are working currently by gathering as much information as they can about the school’s current practice with families and community.  

Students will:

  • Gather demographic data on school’s families and educators;
  • Collect evidence of current family/community engagement written policy at the school, district or state level;  
  • Consult with the building principal to scan the school’s mission, vision, and/or strategic plans for references to family engagement and to gather information on the school’s current efforts in engaging diverse families
  • Gather any data from parent surveys
  • Look at the school calendar for family events and/or programs and collect any data available about attendance; 
  • Walk about the school grounds, entrance way, reception area, hallways, and common areas and document evidence of how families are welcomed into the school;
  • Investigate whether or not the school has a parent organization or council and if so, investigate which parents have a seat at the table;
  • Access the curriculum in at least one grade level to scan for and document culturally relevant content or curricular content that explicitly engages families in collaboration; and
  • Investigate and document partnerships (if any) the school has with community organizations that serve the school’s students and families.

Activity #4: (In-Class)
Debriefing Scans

Students will work in groups of two or three to share what the data they gathered from scanning current policy and practice in their individual schools.  Each group will make a visual representation of findings in bullet form or using images on large chart paper to be posted around the classroom. These visual cues will serve as a springboard for students to begin work on the final assignment – creating (or continuing to refine) family engagement plans for their respective schools.

 


Activity #5: (In-Class)
Video Round

The class will split into three groups.  Each group will preview a video, respond to a prompt, and then present the video and their responses to the prompt to the large group.

The Politics of Family Engagement:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwEPv2ob_QI

Prompt:  Would you use this video to engage faculty and staff or a parent group at your school in an initial conversation about how well current parent engagement policy and practice serves diverse students and families?  Why or why not?  If so, how might you use it?

Pop Quiz and Parent Instruction: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUmrWz-jC10

Prompt:  Does the video present expanded definitions of family engagement? If so, how? How might you re-write the script of this video to make it more relevant to diverse families in your school?  How might you engage diverse families in your school to help you re-write the script of this video to showcase the ways they already support their children’s educational success at home and/or in school?

Real World Ideas for Family Engagement:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHhd8wFF2z8

Prompt:  Would you use this video as a form of professional development at your school?  Why or why not?  If so, how might you use it?  If you had to select any of the ideas presented to use in your school, which one would it be?  Do any of the ideas in the video directly address the needs of diverse students and families? Do any of these ideas apply to your school(s)?  If so, how?


Activity #6: (In-Class)
Taking a Look at Families and Educators:  What do I See?                                                                            Generating Interview Questions

Students will develop a list of 20 or more bi-directional questions around engaging diverse families to improve student learning.  The list should contain questions from the educator’s perspective (10) and questions from the student family’s perspective (10).  This perspective could include but is not limited to cultural, educational, advocacy, community, support or engagement factors. The bi-directional format is intended to emphasize the importance of understanding a “self-related” viewpoint in parallel with the viewpoints of family members and families.  Questions might be designed to elicit information on:

  • How families support their children’s success (emotionally, physically, spiritually)
  • How families track or support what their child is doing in school (discuss the school day, books, tests, homework assignments, importance of school, aspirations)
  • How the school/teachers communicate information about the child’s progress, about special events, or parent meetings or workshops and how family members access this information
    • How families characterize their relationships with school personnel
    • How teachers build trusting relationships with parents
    • How the family communicates with the school and/or teachers
    • How the teacher communicates with families, invites them to be involved, and/or provides them with information on how to help their child at home
    • Barriers or facilitating factors to family engagement

 


Activity #7: (Out of Class)

Field Experience

Option 1 – Interview a Family

  • Identify a student from a different cultural group than your own (whose family lives within reasonable distance from the school) and with whose family you already have a respectful relationship
  • Gather relevant student information (grades, background, observation, talk to the child) 
  • Use the questions developed in class to talk informally with the student’s family members (parent or guardian, siblings, etc.) and to collect anonymous data about how he/she supports his/her student’s success at home or at school.

Option 2 – Interview an Educator

  • Identify a teacher in your school who has a reputation for successfully forging partnerships with parents.
  • Use the questions developed in class to talk informally to and collect anonymous data about how they build relationships, how they communicate with families, and what strategies they use to engage parents so successfully. 

 

Activity #8: (In-Class)

Taking a Look at our Collective Work:  What do We See?

Field Experience Debrief

Pair 

Students will work in pairs to share in depth what they learned from their interviews of families and educators. In particular, they will look for “openings” or entry points in the findings that educators can use to refine or change current practice to engage diverse families. 

“Like” Groups 

Students will work in “like” groups (interviewed families or interviewed educators) to compare findings and discuss entry points.

Large Group  

The instructor will lead a large group discussion that addresses the following questions:

  • What does this mean for our work as current or aspiring school leaders? 
  • How might we use the openings suggested by the findings in the interview data? How might we “multiply” the input we have gained from one family or educator to include more input from diverse families and/or educators at our respective schools? 

How might this multiple input inform a plan that takes into account the current state of family engagement in our respective schools; that builds upon current capacity and success; that facilitates a strengths-based perspective on diverse families; and that imagines respectful and trusting partnerships across multiple contexts of children’s lives?


Activity #9: (Out of Class)

What do we believe in my school?  Leading a faculty meeting

a.  Using the video’s from Activity # 5, information gained from the review of the article in Activity #1b and the process of the school scan described in Activity #3 develop and lead a faculty meeting focused on parent/family engagement.

b.  As an outgrowth of the faculty meeting the students should have each teacher in their school (and staff members if possible):

  • develop interview questions designed to elicit input from diverse families;
  • have individual faculty and staff members reach out to families with whom they have already developed a relationship to conduct interviews
  • share the information they have gathered as a full faculty
  • use the data to inform creating or further refining a family engagement plan

c.  At a follow-up faculty meeting the student should facilitate the debriefing session using the data gained from the parent interviews.  This can be done by having each teacher identify and place significant findings from their interviews on large posted notes around the room.  Using this data map key common findings can be identified.

Activity #10: (Out of Class)

What does a family engagement plan look like?

Students will begin to examine examples of family engagement plans at the district level in preparation for creating a school-level family engagement plan.  Students should investigate local examples (specific to their own contexts) as well as examples provided below.

Parent & Family Engagement Guide, Pittsburgh Public Schools (2007).  http://old.pps.k12.pa.us/pps/lib/pps/_shared/1340_ParentEngagement_v07.pdf 

Citizens Advisory Council, A roadmap for developing a successful family engagement plan (2010).  http://www.u-46.org/parents/documents/U-46Roadmap-EngageImp.pdf

San Francisco Unified School District Parent Engagement and Partnership Plan (2010).  http://www.ppssf.org/Resources/FamilyResources/Parent_Engagement_Plan_6-8-10.pdf


Activity #11: (In-Class)

Creating a Family Engagement Plan

Students may choose to work in groups of two or three to use interview data and the openings suggested by the findings to begin work on a Family Engagement Plan.  The overarching goal in strengthening any of these areas is to improve diverse student learning.

In priority order, the plan should address improvement or change in two or more of the following:  

  • Examining core beliefs
  • Expanded and co-constructed definitions of family engagement
  • School physical spaces and sense of welcome for families
  • Relationship building
  • School/family/community communication
  • Culturally relevant curriculum that seeks to involve families
  • Teacher and parent capacity building centered on student learning
  • Parent access to decision making

Each component of the plan should address short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals.  Goals should be written using the S.M.A.R.T. goal format (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely).  Goals should reflect parent or educator interview data input. 

Final tailoring of actionable goals to meet the needs of specific school contexts will be completed by each current or aspiring school leader in consultation with his/her building principal or direct supervisor.  At least one action should be implemented within the current school year.


Activity #12: (Out of Class)

Taking a Look at Me:  What do I Now Believe about Families? Part B                                                            

Students will revisit their initial written or video responses and will reflect on the following:

  1. Has my definition of family engagement changed, been validated, or been expanded in response to class readings, discussions, or activities?
  2. Would I add to or change any of my responses?
  3. What does this mean for my work as a current or aspiring school leader?  What will I do differently (if anything) as a result of these experiences?

 

Resources

Articles:

Halgunseth, L. (2009). Family engagement, diverse families, and early childhood programs: An integrated review of the literature. Washington, DC: The National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Jeynes, W. H. (2003). A meta-analysis: The effects of parental involvement on minority children’s academic achievement. Education and Urban Society, 35, 202–218.

Lee, J. S., & Bowen, N. K. (2006). Parent involvement, cultural capital, and the achievement gap among elementary school children. American Educational Research Journal, 43, 193-218.

PTA, (2009).  PTA national standards for family school partnerships:  An implementation guide.  Retrieved from: http://www.pta.org/files/National_Standards_Implementation_Guide_2009.pdf

Smith, J., Kuzin, C.A., De Pedro, K., & Wohlstetter, P. (2009). Family engagement in education, seven principles for success. California:  National Resource Center on Charter School Finance & Governance.

Theoharis, G. (2010). Disrupting injustice: Principals narrate the strategies they use to improve their schools and advance social justice. The Teachers College Record, 112.

Villegas, A. M., & Lucas, T. (2007). The culturally responsive teacher. Educational Leadership, 64, 28.

Weiss, H., Lopez, E., Rosenberg, H., Brosi, E., & Lee, D. (2011). The family engagement for high school success toolkit: Planning and implementing an initiative to support the pathway to graduation for at-risk students.  Harvard Family Research Project.  Retrieved from:  http://www.hfrp.org/family-involvement/publications-resources/the-family-engagement-for-high-school-success-toolkit-planning-and-implementing-an-initiative-to-support-the-pathway-to-graduation-for-at-risk-students

Weiss, A. R., & Westmoreland, H. (2006). Family and community engagement in Boston Public Schools: 1995–2006. In S. P. Reville & C. Coggins (Eds.), A decade of urban school reform: Persistence and progress in the Boston Public Schools (pp. 219–242). Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press

Books:

Beachum, F. D., & McCray, C. R. (2011). Cultural collision and collusion: Reflections on hip-hop culture, values, and schools. Educational Psychology: Critical Pedagogical Perspectives. New York, NY: Peter Lang.

Constantino, S. M. (2008). 101 ways to create real family engagement. Galax, VA: ENGAGE! Press.

Gaitan, C. D. (2004). Involving Latino families in schools: Raising student achievement through home-school partnerships. Corwin Press.

Epstein, J. L. (2001). School, family, and community partnerships: Preparing educators and improving schools. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Henderson, A. T. (Ed.). (2007). Beyond the bake sale: The essential guide to family-school partnerships. New Press.

Hong, S. (2011). A cord of three strands: A new approach to parent engagement in schools. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.

Milner, H. R. (2010). Start where you are, but don’t stay there: Understanding diversity, opportunity gaps, and teaching in today’s classrooms. Harvard Education Press.

Olivos, E. M., Jiménez-Castellanos, O., & Ochoa, A. M. (2011). Bicultural parent engagement: Advocacy and empowerment.  New York, NY:  Teachers College Press.

Sanders, M. G., & Sheldon, S. B. (Eds.). (2009). Principals matter: A guide to school, family, and community partnerships. SAGE Publications.

Terrell, R. D., & Lindsey, R. B. (2008). Culturally proficient leadership: The personal journey begins within. Corwin.

Tooms, A. K., & Boske, C. (Eds.). (2009). Bridge Leadership: Connecting Educational Leadership and Social Justice to Improve Schools. IAP.

 

Videos

Dr. Joyce Epstein speaks on the role of the principal in fostering family engagement.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdAOGBI0Af8

Dr. Anne Henderson on family/school/community connections

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gN9WtMq4dzY

Dr. Karen Map on innovative principals and their core beliefs about families

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gv4pAuf7k3c

Dr. Karen Mapp on parents as agents of change

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gN9WtMq4dzY

Dr. Heather Weiss on research associated with home visitation as an engagement strategy

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KpGQV_p4ubI

SEDL webinar series on Family, Community, and School Engagement

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=prMJgUM_CXI&list=SPE15FE29AE6529A6A

 

Websites:

Harvard Family Research Project

http://www.hfrp.org/

National Network of Partnership Schools, Johns Hopkins University

http://www.csos.jhu.edu/p2000/

 

Family and Community Engagement

Powerful Learning Experience #2: Developing a Family Engagement Plan

Element Description/Instructions Instructor Notes

Activity #1a: (Out of Class)
Taking a Look at Me:  What do I Believe about Families?

Part A (Part B to be completed at the end of the module)

Reflection

Candidates will reflect upon their own definitions of family and family engagement.

This PLE is called “Developing a Family Engagement Plan.”  Through a series of sequenced activities students will develop the skills and abilities to gather data from a variety of sources, including qualitative interviews with teachers and families. 

In this activity we ask aspiring leaders to reflect upon their own school experiences and those of their families in order to surface assumptions and to begin to expand definitions of family and family engagement.

This activity can be used as a pre- post self-assessment for the student, or as the jumping off point for a large group discussion, and/or as an instructor self-assessment.

Activity #2: (In-Class)
Pre-Reading Debriefing

Think-Pair-Share

In preparation for the PLE, candidates will use the Four A protocol to read the following article:

Smith, J., Kuzin, C.A., De Pedro, K., & Wohlstetter, P. (2009). Family engagement in education, seven principles for success. California:  National Resource Center on Charter School Finance & Governance.

This protocol can be used to pre-organize and structure large group discussions of the article in class and to guide students to begin deepening their definitions of family (to include grandparents, guardians, older siblings, etc.), and to begin deepening their understanding of the multitude of ways that families may support their children’s educational success, ways that may not be visible to white, middle-class, and monolingual educators.

Activity #3:  (Out of Class)

Taking a Look at My School:

What do I See?

Students will conduct a scan of the school in which they are working currently by gathering as much information as they can about the school’s current practice with families and community. 

The purpose of this activity is to have students assemble context-specific data to assess “what is” in their schools.

Although a significant list of data sources will be provided in class, students may or may not encounter everything on the list in their respective schools.  Such gaps provide entry points for discussion.  As well, students should be guided to explore questions of responsibility in reaching out to diverse families, recognizing and validating the ways in which they already support their children’s educational success, and planning for engaging them in ways that will help their children succeed.

Activity 4: (In-Class)

Debriefing Scans

Students will work in groups of two or three to share what the data they gathered from scanning current policy and practice in their individual schools. Students can begin to create visual representations of what they have found in their respective schools. Depending upon what students have found, the work of evaluating information within and across schools can begin, as well as initial discussions of how to raise awareness or facilitate scans across a faculty.
Activity #5: (In-Class)
Video Round
The class will split into three groups.  Each group will preview a video, respond to a prompt, and then present the video and their responses to the prompt to the large group.

Videos should be examined critically and are intended to engage students in expanding definitions of family and family engagement. 

The first video, in particular, can be examined critically using the Four A protocol to surface assumptions and political agendas.

Activity #6: (In-Class)

Taking a Look at Families and Educators: What do I See?

Students will develop a list of 20 or more bi-directional questions around engaging diverse families to improve student learning.  The list should contain questions from the educator’s perspective (10) and questions from the student family’s perspective (10).

Interview questions can be generated in pairs, enriched and vetted by small groups, and finalized in class.

In class, the instructor should provide guidance to students in how to ensure anonymity and confidentiality for participants while informing them of how the interview data will be used.

Activity #7:(Out of Class)
Talking to Families and Educators: Field Experience
Interview a Family
Interview an Educator
Depending upon the time available, aspiring leaders may choose to interview a family or a family and an educator. 

Activity #8: (In Class)
Taking a Look at our Collective Work:  What do We See?

Field Experience Debrief

Students will work in pairs and in “like groups” to share in depth what they learned from their interviews of families and educators.

Large Group

The instructor will lead a large group discussion.

Debriefing data in pairs, small groups, and then in larger groups is intended to facilitate deeper discussions of the data in a shorter amount of time.  During paired discussions, the instructor can listen in on groups in order to capitalize on data that illustrates expanded definitions of family and family engagement.

Large group facilitation should include discussions of how to replicate interview question development and actual interviews with families across a full faculty.

Activity #9: (Out of Class)
What do we believe in my school?  Leading a faculty meeting
Using all of the class activities, students will plan and conduct a full faculty meeting in which teachers will be guided to reach out to and interview a family. This activity can vary substantially from school to school, depending upon the current position held by the student and on the specific school context.  Instructors may want to work with individual students to tailor this out of class field experience to make it most relevant to student needs and the needs of the school in which the student is working.

Activity #10: (Out of Class)

What does a family engagement plan look like?

Students will begin to examine examples of family engagement plans at the district level in preparation for creating a school-level family engagement plan.  Students should investigate local examples (specific to their own contexts) as well as examples provided below.

Students may choose to work in groups of two or three to use interview data and the openings suggested by the findings to begin work on a Family Engagement Plan.  The overarching goal in strengthening any of these areas is to improve diverse student learning.

Schools and districts may have written plans and policies on family engagement that may or may not be reflected in current school practice.  The purpose of examining actual plans is to guide students towards using “what is” (if it has been evaluated critically and found valuable) or to develop a workable family engagement plan, selected components of which could be implemented within the school in which each candidate is currently working. 

Activity #11:  (In Class)

Creating a Family Engagement Plan

Parent access to decision making

The plan should address improvement or change in two or more of the following: 

  • Examining core beliefs
  • Expanded and co-constructed definitions of family engagement
  • School physical spaces and sense of welcome for families
  • Relationship building
  • School/family/community communication
  • Culturally relevant curriculum that seeks to involve families
  • Teacher and parent capacity building centered on student learning
Students’ family engagement plans will vary considerably and instructors will want to work with students individually and with their internship supervisors and/or home principal so that selected components incorporate data gathered from educators and families and have short, mid, and long term goals and workable action plans.

Activity #12: (Out of Class)

Taking a Look at Me:  What do I Now Believe about Families?

Part B  

Students will revisit their initial written or video responses and will reflect on the following: 

  1. Has my definition of family engagement changed, been validated, or been expanded in response to class readings, discussions, or activities?
  2. Would I add to or change any of my responses?
  3. What does this mean for my work as a current or aspiring school leader?  What will I do differently (if anything) as a result of these experiences?
Although the purpose of revisiting this activity is for students to self-assess, it can also serve as a course assessment for the instructor.  Looking at the depth of students’ responses or students’ “movement” in thinking can provide feedback to instructors on how to strengthen scaffolding, materials, or activities in the sequence.