Innovative strategies to engage parents of all backgrounds

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Critical insights and strategies for engaging parents in school from "Innovative Voices in Education: Engaging Diverse Communities," based on presentation to Natl Coalition for Parent Involvement in Education. For more information see http://www.InnovativeVoicesinEducation.com . Contact Eileen about engaging students and families from diverse backgrounds at EKugler -at- EmbraceDiverseSchools.com

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  • ----- Meeting Notes (1/24/12 21:12) -----Very proud of this book - and I learned a lot
  • Documents stories of successful engagement of students and families: *Put research into practice, -Used it as foundation for own circumstances -Some developed own strategies, frameworks
  • Believe in diversity - Authors diverse in manyways1st person accts – challenges, roadblocks, solutions & successes; just “regular” people (only 1 author), believing in the value of the diverse students & familiesDidn’t seek out this opportunity
  • * Puts research into real-world context – shows what CAN be done. Designed to be thought-provoking about what can be done elsewhere or what more can be done.. Doesn’t answer all the questions. Motivational and inspirational
  • Family engagement is one of key themes. Also looks at instructional strategies and developing relationships with studentsFamilies are different in experiences, social capital, disposable income. Even within races, ethnicities, neighborhoods* Us vs. them – Who is empowered? How do we empower those who are marginalized?
  • Jesse is head of CLUESmulticultural provider of behavioral health and human services in Minnesota- now Vice-President of University Advancement atMetropolitan State University, part of Minnesota State University system- Brings business theory of sub-optimization to the education environment- Edwards Deming, father of quality improvement movement, talks of sub-optimization.Tied into economyImportant to strengthen families so they can pass on their aspirations and mentor their childrenHis chapter also discusses St. Paul School district w/ parent engagement effort and Target’s Hispanic Business Council which supports own employees and community
  • One-size-fits-all family outreach will leave many families isolated and disconnected from school. Young-chan looks at immigrant parents; also families of indigenous students from US, Canada, and Australia; African-American students. Must be specific to that community
  • zMore on what an individual teacher can do – true respect At the foundation of successful family engagement is respect for the family’s unique experiences, skills and knowledge.
  • Met parents where they felt comfortable. Also worked to build community among parents of different backgrounds.
  • Teams were started in multicultural communities with an interested principal. . Members represented school community as well as county resources relevant to families in that community. The teams were brought together at each participating school on a monthly basis to develop shared goals to ensure that all children in their community, regardless of socio-economics, English proficiency or immigrant status, begin school ready to learn
  • Need to move beyond multiculturalism - a reciprocal appreciation of our differences – toward an intercultural where students effectively communicate with and learn from people of other cultures.
  • Immigration families are NOT a homogeneous groupfamilies bring diverse life experiences, educational background, socio-economicsGet to know your families beyond their language and culture groups – ex. Haitian Church (Friday church with survivors and Sunday afternoon church with connectors and leaders)
  • Key tool of engagement is introspection – who am I and how to I relate to students and families?
  • Innovative strategies to engage parents of all backgrounds

    1. 1. INNOVATIVE VOICESIN EDUCATION:Engaging Diverse Communities Eileen Gale Kugler, Executive Editor Ekugler@EmbraceDiverseSchools.com 703-644-3039January 2012 NCPIE:National Coalition for Parent Involvement in Educationwww.InnovativeVoicesinEducation.com
    2. 2. 17 CHAPTERS19 CONTRIBUTORSEach with a distinct voiceDocumenting work in:• California• Illinois• Maryland• Minnesota• Montana• New York• Texas• Virginia• Australia• Canada• UK• Pakistan© 2012 Rowman & Littlefield Education
    3. 3. Puts research into real-world context – How innovators applied and expanded upon research
    4. 4. FINDINGS ON FAMILY ENGAGEMENT: Families are diverse Beyond labels such as minority, immigrant, or ―new.‖ Who is us and who is them? How do we empower the marginalized?Ancestor dolls by author Karen Keenan‘s 2nd grade
    5. 5. Parents play a critical unique role Jesse Bethke Gomez – Ch. 14―As educators we must begin with theassumption achievement gaps are notlimitations to learning by any sub-populationgroup .... (They are) indicators of sub-optimization of our true productive potential ofour schools, our community and our society.Any effort to eliminate achievement gapsrequires stakeholders to contemplate twopowerful truths:1) All children and adults have the need andinfinite potential to learn, and; 2) The familysystem is the primary human socialorganization that prepares the next generationof people who become members of society.‖
    6. 6. Traditional parent involvementleaves gaps & impactsachievement Graciela Rosas – Ch. 6By learning about my students I became veryaware that many students had little to no supportin their homework at home. Parents typicallywere working late and even if they were at home,the homework is at a higher level ofunderstanding than most parents‘ education orlanguage. Their educational level may be at theelementary level or below and their children arelearning more complex information, sounfortunately, even when the parents try to helptheir children, their best intentions are thwarted.The pitfall for these students is that instead ofgetting help from peers, family, or teachers, theyjust don‘t do the assignments.
    7. 7. Parents care, but feel isolated Shriya Adhikary – Ch. 2―My mom comes from a culture that has certain(limiting) expectations of women... Regardless of theirown limited education, my parents have continuallyreiterated the importance of education in theirchildren‘s lives. Unfortunately, the cultural differenceshinder my mother‘s ability to understand how thingswork in America.―I never consulted any of my teachers (except mynewspaper advisor) about the issues with my mom interms of getting my work done. Many teachers weregenerally encouraging and supportive. Yet, most ofmy classes were International Baccalaureate coursesand I was surrounded by students who didn‘t haveany such similar issues. The teachers didn‘tdistinguish between the few immigrant students inthis cluster of students, and I was expected to get mywork done. No questions asked. I honestly did notknow how to approach my teachers about this, and
    8. 8. One teacher can be the connection Waliha Gani – Ch. 2―Throughout my high school years, myrelationship with my mother only deteriorated. Wecould not see eye to eye on anything. My fatherliterally begged me to quit my journalisticaspirations altogether to ‗save everyone at home.‘However, I was fortunate to have an incrediblyunderstanding newspaper advisor, AlanWeintraut, who attempted to help my motherunderstand my participation in the paper. Hespoke in person to her whenever she came to thepublications lab during our long deadline nights,explaining exactly what we did as a staff.Fortunately, this dialogue between Mr. Weintrautand my mother did help my mom understand tosome extent. Most importantly, thanks to Mr.Weintraut‘s patience, my mom received someconsolation during my late hours by calling his
    9. 9. Parents‘ perspective must be valued Jeff Scanlan – Ch. 8―I was reading (a passage from Mark Twain‘s TomSawyer) to the class. One student went home andreported (that I had been reading) Tom Sawyer‘smelodramatic thoughts of death. The next day hermother came in to complain to me about what I wasreading.―I wondered how a parent could complain about thereading of classic like Tom Sawyer? But then Ithought, ―I need to respect this lady, this mother. Hereshe is with an interest in her child‘s education. It is notfor me to judge her negatively for this complaint.―As we talked it was clear there was more to this thanI had realised. A family member not too long ago hadcommitted suicide and that death was still very muchin their thoughts. How often is it the case that whenwe feel aggrieved there is more to the situation than
    10. 10. Outreach can‘t be limited toparents who find it easy toconnect  Stacie Stanley – Ch. 9―I‘ve learned from many African American,Latino and some underprivileged white parentsthat the school setting isn‘t always a welcomingplace... My staff and I have made efforts toengage families by first meeting with parents intheir neighborhoods. ... We providedtransportation for events at school and workedto help parents get to know one another throughlow process activities related to what they hadin common—a visceral desire for their childrento succeed. The more we responded to theneeds and requests of our historicallymarginalized families, the more we garneredtheir trust.”
    11. 11. Involved parents can be valuablecollaborators Nardos King – Ch. 10―The challenge before me was to strengthen ourschool so that no child would fall through thecracks. I began having conversations withmembers of my administrative team,teachers,(and) students …I spoke with manyparents including those in the Parent TeacherStudent Association (PTSA) and the AcademicBoosters Organization, Inc. I shared my storyabout John and expressed to them that weneeded to find a way to make sure all studentsin this school were receiving the attention theyneeded. I shared with them my belief that weneeded to come up with a schedule that wouldhelp us catch students before they fall.‖
    12. 12. Connecting with parents fromday 1 Ashley Harris – Ch. 8―The sense of community is manifested in thefrequent communication from school to homeand vice versa which starts before a studenteven sets foot on a YES Prep campus. YESPrep provides a home visit to each incomingstudent prior to the start of summer school.…(Also) cell phones for teachers are providedby the school. Students and parents have theopportunity to call teachers until 8:00 or 9:00PM with questions or concerns. .. Teachers arerequired to make five positive phone calls toparents per week and faculty are alsoencouraged to reach out personally tofamilies.‖
    13. 13. Linking families to learning Roni Silverstein – Ch. 11―A warm environment is important, but we alsoneeded parents to understand our work. Wehad Study Circles where parents could explore,through a MCPS program, each other‘sbackgrounds, histories, struggles and hopesand dreams for our school. Parents weretrained to be volunteers; they participated in asecond grade reading program, helped in ourclassrooms and worked with our teachers totranslate parent newsletters.We developed a Hispanic Parent group whereparents could learn about our state testing, howto work on math at home with household items,how to teach their young children to read, howto encourage students to do their homework.‖
    14. 14. Community collaborations thatincrease family engagement Andrea Sobel and Debra Fulcher – Ch. 13(After participating in collaborativeNeighborhood School Readiness Teams,)―schools began seeing more children registeredfor school in the spring before they beginkindergarten than in previous years. Teamrelationships enabled programs and schools toget the word out to more families, sooner.Immigrant families received information throughtheir childcare providers as well as countychildcare specialists. Families were reachedthrough relationships among team members andinvited to school events before their childrenbegan school. More families attendedkindergarten orientation, where they wereprovided help, often in multiple languages, to
    15. 15.  Jesse Bethke Gomez – Ch. 14―The Learning Together Program is able toreplace isolation (of newcomer families) withcommunity connectedness (through a seriesof group classes). One father thanked us forhelping him work with his children. He wasjust beginning to learn to read in Englishhimself. His children brought English-language books home from school andbegan to read them. He learned he could sittogether with his child, and sound out wordsthat he saw on the page. His child also readto him the words that he did not know. Thiswas a collaborative experience. He realizedthat language does not have to be a barrierto working educationally with his children.‖
    16. 16. Valuing each student and family Sean Grainger – Ch. 17―A balance is struck in culturally diverseschools when students realize that beingdifferent isn‘t a quality reserved for others,but rather a state that describes each one ofthem. When students learn how to celebratethis balance in support and recognition ofeach other, the gap of ignorance betweenthem narrows, and they begin to function asinterdependent learners on their way tobecoming well-adjusted, high-functioningpeaceful global citizens of an interculturalsociety.‖ www.InnovativeVoicesinEducation.com
    17. 17. Highlights from Two ChaptersYoung-chan Han – Ch. 12From Survivors to Leaders: Stages ofImmigrant Parent Involvement inSchoolsEileen Gale Kugler – Ch. 3Valuing the Individual by BreakingThrough Assumptions
    18. 18. NCPIESurvivors to Leaders- Immigrant Parent Involvement in Schools Presented by: Young-chan Han, Family Involvement Specialist, Maryland State Department of Education yhan@msde.state.md.us (January 25, 2012)
    19. 19. Stages of Immigrant Parent Involvement Cultural Leader Cultural Connector Cultural Learner Cultural Survivor
    20. 20. Stages of InvolvementCultural Survivor• Parents in this stage may be homeless, refugees, recent immigrants, illiterate in their native language, etc.• Focuses on meeting the basic survival needs of family.• Enrolls their children in schools with the help of relatives, bilingual friends, community members, or school staff.• May work two or three labor-intensive jobs to support the family.• Physically absent at home.• Attends parent-teacher conference only if leave is granted from work and if an interpreter is available.
    21. 21. Cultural Learner• Parents in this stage begin to attend school functions with the support of interpreters or bilingual liaisons.• Relies heavily on translated documents and foreign language interpreters or bilingual liaisons to gain knowledge about American schools.• Participates in parent-teacher conferences with the support of interpreters or bilingual liaisons.• Attends language specific parent programs.• Gains basic understanding of American school culture and how to navigate the school/system.
    22. 22. Cultural Connector• Parents in this stage continue to attend school functions and meetings and become a voice for Cultural Survivors and Cultural Learners.• Regularly attends school functions and meetings.• Seeks out more than basic information.• More easily navigates the school system.• Develops greater familiarity with the school system, educational terminologies, policies and procedures.• Feels comfortable with both the language specific programs/events and the English-only programs with the help of interpreters.• Encourages and empowers other Cultural Survivors and Cultural Learners to become
    23. 23. Cultural Leader• Parents in this stage become an advocate for Cultural Survivors, Cultural Learners, and Cultural Connectors.• Participates in leadership programs and trainings.• Seeks and becomes involved in leadership opportunities in school and district: PTA or other Parent-Teacher Organization, School Improvement Team, Parent Advisory Council, District Parent Advisory Committee, etc.• Communicates the immigrant families‘ needs to school staff, school district, community members and agencies/organizations.• Advocates for children of all families, especially the immigrant families.
    24. 24. Key Points: Immigrant families are a heterogeneous group. Years of residency in the US does NOT determine the stage of involvement. Parent involvement stages are fluid. Support to immigrant families should be determined by their stages of parent involvement.  Cultural survivors need more intense support to meet basic needs.  Workshops and outreaches to parents need to look different at each stages.
    25. 25. Moving Beyond AssumptionsEileen Gale Kugler –Embrace Diverse SchoolsEKugler@EmbraceDiverseSchools.com Many educators study the cultures of their students. But rarely examine their own culture Each of us has a complex ―culture‖ – ◦ Web of interconnected factors, beyond race & ethnicity ◦ Prism through which we view the world ◦ Others view us through their prism. ◦ Helps determine what is ―right‖ Need to examine our culture and the assumptions that go with it. Who is ―The Other‖?
    26. 26. © 2012 Eileen Gale Kugler
    27. 27. • Detailed table of contents• Bios of contributing authors• Testimonials at:InnovativeVoicesinEducation.comAvailable in hardback,paperbackand e-book.20% discount availablefor educators, communityleaders and parents.Contact Eileen Kugler

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