FIPSE LSDL Modules

 

Module 4: Families & Communities

Overview

This module seeks to engage diverse stakeholders in the ongoing process of student learning. This engagement is facilitated by educational leaders who have knowledge of community issues, dynamics, and trends and understand the nuances of cultural difference. School leaders should be committed to collaboration with families, businesses, local educational partners, and other stakeholders. Effective school leaders also value opportunities for community based decision-making, diversity for school enhancement, recognition of family histories, knowledge, and experiences, and advocating for what is in the best interest of students. They actively communicate with stakeholders, build meaningful relationships, galvanize community resources, and reach out to business, religious, political and service agencies and organizations for the purpose of enhancing the learning opportunities for all students.

Through readings, discussions, and reflection, participants in this module will further develop their own cultural and racial identities in order to better serve diverse students and their families.  Through a sequenced set of powerful learning experiences participants will begin to develop the skills to reach out to diverse families, organizations, and communities.

We suggest that participants experience the module in the sequence provided.  The learning experiences will work best if they follow the sequence of pre-reading, context for the field component, the experience itself with the possibility of discovery and surprise, the opportunity to reflect upon and process the experience, and the opportunity to share their learning with classmates.

Background

Demographics of students and families in the United States continue to shift and pernicious achievement gaps persist for low socio-economic status (SES), African-American, Native American, and Latino students (marginalized students of color). Yet, many teachers and administrators differ in culture, language, and SES from the students and families they serve.  The potential for cultural discontinuity rises, thus school leaders to develop a more nuanced understanding of how to engage diverse parents.  

Educators, scholars, policy makers, and parents themselves share a widespread belief that parental involvement in their children’s schooling benefit students (Comer & Haynes, 1991; Epstein, 2011; Henderson, 2002; Tyson, 2009).   Research evidence (Baker & Sodden, 1997; Fan & Chen, 2001; Jeynes, 2005) continues to mount showing positive relationships between parent engagement and student outcomes. However, relatively few schools have parent engagement plans, not all teacher or principal preparation programs include courses on parent and community engagement, and few principals allocate professional development time for practitioners to strengthen their skills in successfully involving parents.

Schools can:

  1. Commit to personal contact
  2. Educate themselves on cultural values of families
  3. Plan for meaningful, two-way communication
  4. Intentionally reach out in to the community
  5. Repeatedly  invite families’ participation
  6. Create an intentionally welcoming environment for families in the school
  7. Accommodate families’ needs for transportation, child care, translation, etc. 

School leaders can:

  1. Take time to build relationships and trust
  2. Reach out and proactively solicit input from families on the education of their children
  3. Teach families how to support students academically
  4. Identify and utilize the assets that parents and the community possess

Learning Goals

The learners will:

  • Continue to examine their own beliefs about race, particularly as it connects to or potentially impacts their relationships with diverse students and families in their school’s community.
  • Assess the physical environment and the culture of the school from the perspective of diverse students and their families.
  • Explore the school’s neighborhood, identifying the strengths and potential needs of diverse students and families living in the community.
  • Scan the community for organizations one community that partner with or could partner with the school to better serve diverse students and families.

Theory of Action Statement
If we provide candidates with learning experiences that allow them to:

  • Reflect upon their racial and cultural identities.
  • Explore the school’s neighborhood through the eyes of the diverse families that live in the community.
  • Assess the school’s physical environment and culture from the perspective of diverse students and families.
  • Scan the school and community for existing and potential partnerships with community organizations that will benefit diverse families and students.

Then the candidates will:

  • Begin to identify and interrupt some of their own assumptions and biases.
  • Identify the strengths and needs of the families in school’s neighborhood.
  • Build and/or strengthen a welcoming school environment and culture for parents.
  • Initiate potential partnerships or augment existing partnerships with community organizations that will benefit diverse families and students. 

Relevant Courses

This module could function as the foundation for a three-credit course on School and Community Relations.  As well, one or more of the PLEs in the module would fit well within the following core courses in Educational Leadership preparation programs:

  • Organizational Theory
  • Change
  • Policy and Politics
  • The Principalship

In addition, one of more of the modules could be used within the experiential activities for a course on Socially Just Leadership.

Assumptions

Students:

  • belong to a cohort or a class
  • are interning in a district school and can access up to date school data
  • have the benefit of a host and/or mentor principal
  • are in the process of identifying themselves as socially just aspiring leaders
  • keep reflective journals to process experiences, document growth, and plan for future learning and development

Students and Instructors

  • are co-learners
  • are developing as socially just educational leaders

Teaching Notes

Teaching notes are provided throughout the powerful learning experiences (PLEs) in this module to assist both novice and experienced instructors in co-constructing meaningful and relevant experiences for students.

Alignment to National Standards      

This module addresses ISLLC Standard 4:

A school administrator is an educational leader who promotes the success of all students by
collaborating with families and community members, responding to diverse community
interests and needs, and mobilizing community resources
Functions:

  1. Collect and analyze data and information pertinent to the educational environment
  2. Promote understanding, appreciation, and use of the community’s diverse cultural, social, and intellectual resources
  3. Build and sustain positive relationships with families and caregivers
  4. Build and sustain productive relationships with community partners

This is operationalized by an administrator’s level of knowledge, leadership disposition, and actual performances in practice. In this module aspiring school leaders will utilize:
           Knowledge:

  • By recognizing relevant school-community issues that impact both entities.
  • Acknowledging the continuing trend towards greater diversity in communities.
  • Developing effective strategies for meaningful community relations.
  • Research base showing positive relationship between parental and community involvement and student achievement.
  • Recognizing the importance of community social capital and facilitating linkages among appropriate stakeholders.
    Dispositions:
  • Fostering a mentality and approach to the community that affirms, recognizes social context, and rejects deficit thinking and stereotyping.
  • Utilize multiple means of communication with the external community.
  • Develop innovative ideas around school-community collaboration.
  • Recognize families as assets and partners in the school’s mission.
  • Understand how the school can impact the external community and vice versa.

           Performances:

  • Broadening opportunities for decision-making to community members.
  • Offer opportunities for sharing information and empowerment with regard to school-related activities.
  • Connect to the community by collective ceremonies, guest presentations, and mutually agreed upon events.

Utilization of relevant community data to inform decision-making at the school site.

Assessments:

Pre-Test

This self-assessment will provide a baseline for both instructor and students a better understanding of the material and direction put forth within the framework of this Powerful Learning Experience (PLE).  This assessment should be reviewed by the instructor and/or taken by individuals at the start of the course. 

Within the context of your current or most recent education-based work environment to what extent do you disagree or agree with the following statements:

1 = strongly disagree; 2 = disagree; 3 = undecided, 4 = agree; 5 = strongly agre

Within the context of your current or most recent education-based work environment to what extent do you disagree or agree with the following statements:

1 = very poor; 2 = poor; 3 = undecided, 4 = good; 5 = very good

  1. What is your level of understanding in creating and maintaining coalitions and partnerships?
  2. What is your level of understanding in assessing community needs and resources?
  3. What is your level of understanding in analyzing problems and goals?
  4. What is your level of understanding in developing a framework or Change Model?
  5. What is your level of understanding in developing strategic and action-based plans?
  6. What is your level of understanding in building and facilitating leadership?
  7. What is your level of understanding in developing an intervention strategy?
  8. What is your level of understanding in increasing participation and membership?
  9. What is your level of understanding in enhancing cultural competence?
  10. What is your level of understanding in advocating for change?
  11. What is your level of understanding in influencing policy development?
  12. What is your level of understanding in evaluating the initiative?
  13. What is your level of understanding in implementing a social marketing effort?
  14. What is your level of understanding in writing a grant application for funding?
  15. What is your level of understanding in improving organizational management and development?
  16. What is your level of understanding with sustaining the work or initiatives?

Please respond briefly to the following questions regarding your current or most recent education-based work environment:

  1. What do I think about family engagement?
  2. Will family engagement work at this setting? Why or why not?
  3. What is my role in promoting family engagement at our setting?
  4. Am I willing to devote time, resources, and energy to family engagement to bring about more achievement of my students?

Post-Test

This self-assessment evaluates level of change for both instructor and students.  It will allow for each to reflectively self-assess for individual level of change as well as provide both quantitative and qualitative change after participating in the Powerful Learning Experience (PLE).  The instructor and student participants are encouraged to take the assessment on the final day of instruction for the PLE module. 

After completion of the PLE and within the context of your current or most recent education-based work environment to what extent do you disagree or agree with the following statements:

1 = strongly disagree; 2 = disagree; 3 = undecided, 4 = agree; 5 = strongly agree

After completion of the PLE and within the context of your current or most recent education-based work environment to what extent do you disagree or agree with the following statements:

1 = very poor; 2 = poor; 3 = undecided, 4 = good; 5 = very good

  1. What is your increased level of comfort with creating and maintaining coalitions and partnerships?
  2. What is your increased level of comfort with assessing community needs and resources?
  3. What is your increased level of comfort with analyzing problems and goals?
  4. What is your increased level of comfort with developing a framework or Change Model?
  5. What is your increased level of comfort with developing strategic and action-based plans?
  6. What is your increased level of comfort with building and facilitating leadership?
  7. What is your increased level of comfort with developing an intervention strategy?
  8. What is your increased level of comfort with increasing participation and membership?
  9. What is your increased level of comfort with enhancing cultural competence?
  10. What is your increased level of comfort with advocating for change?
  11. What is your increased level of comfort with influencing policy development?
  12. What is your increased level of comfort with evaluating the initiative?
  13. What is your increased level of comfort with implementing a social marketing effort?
  14. What is your increased level of comfort with writing a grant application for funding?
  15. What is your increased level of comfort with improving organizational management and development?
  16. What is your increased level of comfort with sustaining the work or initiatives?

Please respond briefly to the following questions regarding your current or most recent education-based work environment:

  1. What do I think about family engagement?
  2. Will family engagement work at this setting? Why or why not?
  3. What is my role in promoting family engagement at our setting?

Am I willing to devote time, resources, and energy to family engagement to bring about more achievement of my students?