FIPSE LSDL Modules

 

Neighborhood Walk PLE: Module 4

Neighborhood Walk PLE

Powerful Learning Experience #1          Neighborhood Walk

Overview
Students will choose a school with a diverse student population. They will come to know the community in which the school population is located by conducting a neighborhood walk with someone who knows the community well (described in detail below).  

For more information about how one Seattle public school planned to conduct the first of many “Neighborhood Walks” click here.

Activity #1
Out of Class

Pre-Reading

 Weiman, L., & Kashatok, G. (2008).  Getting to know students’ communities.  In M. Pollack (Ed.), Everyday anti-racism: Getting real about race in school (pp. 299-304).  NY: The New Press.

Wyman, a white female teacher and researcher, and Kashatok, a Yup’ik male school administrator and researcher, describe ways that non-Native teachers can come to know the Native Alaskan community in which they teach: by attending community events; recognizing and accepting social invitations; making modest efforts to learn the language; and developing two-way trust.  Describes some of the emotional hurdles to be faced, and includes good discussion questions at the end.  (6 pages, including references and discussion questions)

Bolman, L. G. & Deal, T. E. (2008). Reframing organizations: Artistry, choice, and leadership, (4nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Chapter 9 (pp. 191-210)

Chapter 12 (pp. 251-278)

Activity #2 
In Class

Discussion of Pre-Reading

Description of Field Experience 

Description of Rubrics

Teaching Notes
Students and professor will discuss the pre-reading (See discussion questions). 
Professor will describe the field experience (the community walk) and give students the opportunity to ask clarifying questions, make suggestions, negotiate meaning, and tailor the assignment so that it is meaningful to each individual student.
Professor will describe the product students will produce (see options below) and invite students’ suggestions for alternate products or creative responses to the assignment.
Professor will present rubric (see below) on how the product will be graded and give students the opportunity to ask clarifying questions, make suggestions, and negotiate meaning.

Discussion Questions (adapted from p. 304)

  • What classroom benefits might result if you get to know diverse community members in real depth?
  • Which of the tactics suggested here for “getting to know” your students’ communities strike you as most promising?  Which, if any, of the suggestions make you anxious, or skeptical, and why?
  • What is one way you could start getting to know diverse people in your students’ communities?

Activity #3
In Class
Professor will:

  1. review the political and cultural/symbolic frames (see Power Point)
  2. show participants a photo essay example of political and cultural/symbolic artifacts in one
  3. give an example of how one student reported on her neighborhood walk (see example)

Activity #4
Out of Class
Field Experience

Teaching Note: Professor will guide each student in choosing a school with cultural, ethnic and socio-economic diversity that will challenge the student to broaden their understanding of the needs of diverse families. (In many cases, this will be a school in which the student is currently working.)  As well, students will be guided to locate someone who is intimately familiar with the community.  This “cultural broker” can be someone who has worked in the school or who has lived in the community for some time.  Students may choose to work individually, in pairs, or in triads and will conduct a neighborhood walk (approximately 2 to 2 ½ hours long). 

Although a Neighborhood Walk can serve a variety of purposes, the goals for students will be:

  • to experience the community through the eyes of someone who knows it intimately
  • to view the community through cultural, symbolic, and political lenses
  • to make friendly, face-to-face contact with the diverse individuals they encounter in the neighborhood as a first step in developing sustainable relationships
  • to scan the neighborhood for agencies that may interact with or serve the school’s diverse students and/or families
  • to begin to construct a strengths based understanding of the diverse families and the neighborhood in which the school is located

Students will visit formal institutions such as churches, synagogues or mosques, library, post office, etc.  They will seek places where people congregate, such as playgrounds, coffee shops, barbershops or beauty parlors, local grocery stores or bodegas.  Whenever possible, they will introduce themselves, explain why they are walking the neighborhood, and seek information about what makes the neighborhood so unique to the people who live there.

Suggested Guiding Questions for Students
The following questions are adapted from Bolman & Deal’s Reframing Organizations and represent one way to frame the experience for students.  Students may ask themselves:

Cultural/Symbolic Frame

  • What visual images do you see that reflect the diversity of the neighborhood?  Help you understand what is valued in the neighborhood?  (Consider signs, posters, advertisements, conditions of parks and public spaces, etc.)
  • What are the symbols of power in the neighborhood?
  • Can you or your cultural broker determine the influential people in the community (“high priests and priestesses”) who guide the actions of people in the neighborhood?
  • What stories do people tell about the neighborhood?  How do these stories reflect the community’s diverse values?
  • What celebrations or rituals exist in the neighborhood and what purposes do they serve? 

Political Frame

  • What are the scarce resources for diverse families in this neighborhood?  (Jobs, access, infrastructure, power to make decisions?)
  • Who are the individuals or what are the institutions with power in the neighborhood (both formal and informal?)
  • Can you identify networks, groups, or organizations that provide social capital and/or “voice” for people in the neighborhood?
  • Historically, what conflicts or community issues have existed or been resolved?

Suggested Guiding Questions for Individuals Encountered
Students may ask individuals:

  • What do you like about living in the neighborhood?
  • How would you describe the families in this neighborhood?
  • Do you have children in the neighborhood school?
  • How would you describe the neighborhood school?
  • How does the school connect with families in the neighborhood?
  • What would help you feel more connected to the school?

Students will reflect upon and describe the experience of walking the neighborhood, paying particular attention to elements that surprised them or didn’t conform to their expectations of the experience (their “ah ha” moments). 

Students will be asked to reflect on what they learned and given what they have learned how they would go about making their schools environment more “open and reflective” of the local community.  This discussion should take the form of “What” (a deep reflection on what has been learned about the community) to “So What” (creating a plan to change the schools approach to better serving the community so that a stronger partnership develops to support student learning).  The instructor should have students read Auerbach, S. (2009). Walking the walk: Portraits in leadership for family engagement in urban schools.  The School Community Journal, 19, 9-31.

Students will have the option to use still or video cameras to record their observations of buildings or places.  (People may not be photographed unless they give permission.) 

For a description of how one urban elementary school in a diverse neighborhood in Wichita, Kansas reaches out to the community, click here.

In Class Activity #4
Students will reflect upon the experience and prepare a presentation for their classmates.

Product

Option #1
Photo Essay

Option #2
Digital Story (Max. 10 min.) 

Option #3 
Slide Presentation (Max. 10 slides/10 min.)

 

Suggested Evaluation Rubrics

Option 1 

Photo Essay: A photo essay is simply a series of photos organized around a central theme that are organized to tell a story.  To learn more about how to create a photo essay, click here.  Students will prepare and present their photo essay to the class.

      Suggested Evaluation Rubric:  

Background information on school and neighborhood demographics

5

Selection of photos to narrate the “story” of the neighborhood and community

5

The neighborhood “story” or content of the photo essay, including cultural, symbolic, and political artifacts or evidence

10

Cultural broker – what did you learn about relationships by asking an insider to guide me? What did you learn about the neighborhood that you would never have known if you had taken the walk by yourself?

10

Implications for socially just leadership (Given what you have experienced, how will do things differently in your role as aspiring school leader?)

10

“Ah ha” moment or What did you learn that surprised you?

5

Clarity and coherence of spoken presentation

5

Total

50

 

Option 2

Digital Story: A digital story is one told through the use of computer based tools and may include video, text, still photos, or sound.  To learn more about digital stories and how to create them, click here.  Students prepare and present findings to class.    
        Suggested Evaluation Rubric:

Background information on school and neighborhood demographics

5

Selection of stills, video, text, or sound used to narrate the “story” of the community

5

The neighborhood “story” or content of the digital story including cultural, symbolic, and/or political artifacts or evidence

10

Cultural broker – what did you learn about relationships by asking an insider to guide me? What did you learn about the neighborhood that you would never have known if you had taken the walk by yourself?

10

Implications for socially just leadership (Given what you have experienced, how will do things differently in your role as aspiring school leader?)

10

“Ah ha” moment or What did you learn that surprised you?

5

Clarity and coherence of digital story

5

 

 

Total

50

 

Option 3

Slide Presentation: An effective slide presentation should combine images and text.  To learn more about how to select high impact images and to make economical use of text, click here.  Students will prepare and present findings to class.    

Suggested Evaluation Rubric:

Background information on school and neighborhood demographics

5

High impact images and economical use of text

5

The “story” of the neighborhood or school or content of the presentation including cultural, symbolic, and/or political artifacts or evidence.

10

Cultural broker – what did you learn about relationships by asking an insider to guide me? What did you learn about the neighborhood that you would never have known if you had taken the walk by yourself?

10

Implications for socially just leadership (Given what you have experienced, how will do things differently in your role as aspiring school leader?)

10

“Ah ha” moment or What did you learn that surprised you?

5

Clarity and coherence of spoken presentation

5

 

 

Total

50

 

Annotated Suggested Reading

Auerbach, S. (2009). Walking the walk: Portraits in leadership for family engagement in urban schools.  The School Community Journal, 19, 9-31.
Auerbach’s qualitative study of four urban “exemplar” school administrators who actively pursued family and community engagement as part of their commitment to socially just leadership details practices used to build bridges to disenfranchised Latino communities.

Cooper, J. E.  (2007). Strengthening the case for community-based learning in teacher education.  Journal of Teacher Education, 58, 245-255.
Cooper’s ethnographic study of 42 Teaching Fellows participating in a series of six diversity activities details how participants confronted their own beliefs about diverse families and learners.  Community based activities helped students challenge misperceptions and build understanding of family and community strengths.  (12 pages includes reference list) 

Annotated Bibliography

Developing a socially just leadership identity

Delpit, L. (2002). The skin that we speak. In L. Delpit & J. Dowdy (Eds.), The skin that we speak; Thoughts on language and culture in the classroom. (pp. 33-48).  NY: The New Press.
Delpit recounts incidents from her family life to illustrate the value placed on forms of language in the classroom and in society.

Singleton, G., & Hays, C. (2008) Beginning courageous conversations about race.  In M. Pollack (Ed.) Everyday anti-racism: Getting real about race in school. (pp. 18-23). NY: The New Press.
A succinct introduction to the fundamentals of courageous conversations.

Overall benefits of engaged families and communities

Boethel, M. (2003). Diversity: Family and community connections with schools. Austin, TX: Southwest Educational Development Laboratory.
Boethel examines 64 studies on family and community engagement with diverse populations and organizes conclusions into 7 broad categories.  While noting that the research base is thin, evidence suggests that all families have high aspirations for their children, families may be involved in children’s schooling in ways that are not recognized or valued, schools are inconsistent in involving families, schools need to address the barriers that exist for families, and more research is needed to explore the complex interplay among schools, communities, and families.

 

Engaging families and communities from a strengths-based perspective

Moll, L., & Gonzalez, N. (2004). Beginning where the children are.  In O. Santa Ana (Ed.) Tongue-tied: The lives of multi-cultural children in public education. (pp. 152-156). NY: Rowman & Littlefield.
Excepted from a research article on a study conducted by Moll & Gonzalez, detailing how teachers built relationships with diverse families and came to explore the “funds of knowledge” such families possess, eventually incorporating this knowledge into lessons and curriculum.

Valencia, R., & Solorzano, D. (2004).  Today’s deficit thinking about the education of minority students.  In O. Santa Ana (Ed.) Tongue-tied: The lives of multi-cultural children in public education. (pp. 124-131). NY: Rowman & Littlefield.
An abridged version of many of the ideas in the 2010 edition of Valencia’s book Dismantling contemporary deficit thinking: Educational thought and practice.  Effectively debunks many of the bases of deficit thinking, including neohereditarianism, blame the victims, and inadequate parenting.

Effective engagement strategies across developmental levels

Epstein, J. (2011).  Parents’ attitudes and practices of involvement in inner-city elementary and middle schools.  (pp 200-215).  In School, family, and community partnerships: Preparing educators and improving schools.  Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Mayer, E. (2005).  Tomasito is too big to hold hands: The developing child and the home-school relationship. In H. Weiss, H. Kreider, M. Lopez, & C. Chatman (Eds.) Preparing educators to involve families. (pp. 13-22). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Leading schools to engage families and communities

Bustamante, R., Nelson, J., & Onwuegbuzie, A. (2009). Assessing schoolwide cultural competence: Implications for school leadership preparation. Educational Administration Quarterly, 24, 793-827.

Skrla, Scheurich, Garcia, and Nolly (2004), Equity Audits: A practical leadership tool for developing equitable and excellent schools. Educational Administration Quarterly, 40, 133-161.  

Professional development for teachers

Howard, G. R. (1999). We can’t teach what we don’t know: White teachers, multi-racial schools. NY: Teachers College Press.One of the books in the Multicultural Education Series, edited by James Banks, this slim volume is a deeply personal account of an educator’s journey towards white identity development and interpersonal growth.  Strives to integrate theory and practice for teachers in schools. 

Jackson, F. R. (1994). Seven strategies to support a culturally responsive pedagogy. Journal of Reading, 37 (4), 298-303.
Pollock, M. (Ed.) (2008).  Everyday anti-racism: Getting real about race in school. NY: The New Press.  A collection of brief (4-6 pages) of essays and abridged articles including seminal authors and relevant strategies for the practitioner.  Excellent discussion questions included. 

Seidl, B. (2007). Working with communities to explore and personalize culturally relevant pedagogies: Push, double images, and raced talk. Journal of Teacher Education, 58, 168-183.