Presentation on theme: "Families, Educators, and the Family-School Partnership: Issues or Opportunities for Promoting Children’s Learning Competence? Sandra L. Christenson 2002."— Presentation transcript:
1 Families, Educators, and the Family-School Partnership: Issues or Opportunities for Promoting Children’s Learning Competence?Sandra L. Christenson2002 Invitational Conference:The Future of School PsychologyNovember 15, 2002
2 Our progress. . .The effect of and contributions by families to educational outcomesModels for family involvementImportance of establishing shared goals and monitoring child/adolescent progressCharacteristics of collaborative relationshipsHome- and school-based activities to engage families in education
3 Our job is not done. . .Extreme social and physical distance between families and educators in some schoolsDiminished resources for implementing family-school programsChallenges in reaching all familiesChallenges in addressing the needs of ELLFar too little focus on the interaction process that yields a strong family-school relationship
4 Some essentials . . .Goal of family-school connections is competence enhancement – the academic, social, emotional, and behavioral learningAffordance value of the learning context – how home and school provide supports and opportunities for the child to meet the challenges and demands of schoolingEffect of macrosystemic influences – current landscape of educational reform
5 Different foci. . .Currently have a primary emphasis on involving familiesRefocus connection in terms of enhancing learning competenciesBenefits of collaboration for student success extend far beyond the notion of involving parent in activities
6 To create and sustain productive family-school relationships. . . Systems thinkingOpportunity to learn in and out of schoolAssessment-intervention link empowers parents and educators to help students meet the demands of schoolOpportunity-focused attitudes and actionsIs the change in ethnic diversity, an issue, one that implies a barrier and/or a problem for which a solution must be found?Is this an opportunity to embrace the richness of culture and to learn ways to enhance the success of all students?
7 Family involvement for what purpose? To create a culture of success – one that enhances the learning experiences, progress, and success of studentsAcademic engagementCognitive engagementBehavioral engagementPsychological engagement
8 70.4 million children under age 18 – 26% Describe the changing population and family context in which American children are livingIncreases for children with a foreign born parentIncreases in ethnic diversity75% of poor children live in working familiesSharp increase in families headed by unmarried partnersLess than a quarter of American households consist of nuclear families
9 Some statistics represent challenges for already stressed schools Number of non-English speaking children has doubled since 1979Supports for families vary; often less than desirable.Affordable child care – 25% of children in grades 4-8 regularly care for themselves
10 Availability of after school programs – low income children are less likely to participate Affordable housing and shelter - the daily average for students living in shelters was 600Families need support to assist their children’s adaptation to the demands of schooling.High school exit exams- subgroups of students who perform well below the rate for the total population24% of students with grades lower than C reported parents are unavailable to help with schoolwork
11 Usefulness of the statistics. . . Never to be used as an attribution for poor school performanceAllow us to identify students for systematic intervention – those for whom there is an achievement gapPoint to opportunities for school psychologists to make a difference for all children – to help children and youth develop learning competencies
12 Issues or Opportunities? Often hear:“I never see the families I want to see.”How can we involve the “hard to reach?”Issues/barriers for families are overemphasizedIn reality, there are reasons for families, educators, and the family-school relationshipSome represent access; others psychological
13 Issues for Families Structural Psychological Lack of role models, information, and knowledge about resourcesChild care and transportationLinguistic and cultural differences, resulting in less “how to” knowledge about how schools function and their rolePsychologicalFeelings of inadequacySuspicion about treatment from educatorsLack of responsiveness to parental needs
14 Issues for Educators Structural Psychological Lack of funding for family outreach programsLack of training for educators on how to maintain a partnership with familiesPsychologicalUse of negative communication about students’ school performanceDoubts about the abilities of families to address schooling concernsFear of conflict with families
15 Issues for the Family-School Relationships StructuralLimited time for communication and meaningful dialogueLimited contact for building trustLack of a routine communication systemPsychologicalLimited use of perspective takingLimiting impressions of child to observations in only one environmentFailure to recognize the importance of preserving the family-school relationship across time
16 Let’s focus on the psychological! Families: self-efficacy and role constructionIf parents do not see how they impact their children’s learning, how does this affect educators’ efforts to create home-school interventions?Educators: “fix the family”If educators portray an attitude that families are “dysfunctional,” how can a constructive partnership for children’s learning occur?
17 Family-School Relationship: elements of collaboration in assessment and intervention Parents as assessors and presenters of reportsShared decision making process:Access – rights to inclusionVoice – heard and listened to at all pointsOwnership – satisfaction with and contribution to an action plan affecting them
18 Issues as opportunities Opportunity to expand our roles by creating home-school learning environmentsOpportunity to create family-school connections to “close gaps’ in students’ educational performanceOpportunity to consult about the process for quality family-school interactions, represented by the “4As” in the paper
19 Opportunities for Joining Families and Educators Typical school-based practices are activity driven: How can we involve families?Perhaps we should ask: How can families and educators partner to increase learning opportunities and supports for students to learn?Focusing on the socialization practices of families and educators and the process for partnering is more important than implementation of a parent involvement activity in isolation.Students concerns do not go away with one problem solving meetingNeed sustained interaction across school years
20 Approach: The Framework for Interaction with Families Parents are essential not merely desirable for children’s optimal school performanceRisk for school failure denoted by interfaceLow-risk: child/family and schooling system communicate, develop shared meaning, provide congruent messagesHigh-risk: child deriving messages that result in conflicting emotions, motives, goalsFocus on time – students’ use of in- and out-of-school time
21 Opportunities for School Psychology Frame mental health and academic outcomes for youth in terms of a partnershipEducators often ask: How can schools gets families to support their values and practices?Families often ask: How can families get schools to be responsive to their needs and aspirations for their children?Together they seldom ask . .
22 How can we work together to promote the learning experiences, opportunities, engagement, progress, and performance of these students and/or this student?We can:Foster bi-directional communicationEnhance problem solving across home and schoolEncourage shared decision makingReinforce congruent home-school support
23 Attitudes:. The Values and Perceptions Held Attitudes: The Values and Perceptions Held about Family-School RelationshipsCollaboration involves:Equality – the willingness to listen to, respect, and learn from one anotherParity – the blending of knowledge, skills, and ideas to enhance the relationship, and outcomes for childrenEmploy constructive attitudes and behaviors:Listen, nonjudgmental, see differences as strengths, focus on mutual interests, co-construct identification of referral concern and intervention plan, ensure parents’ teachers’ and students’ needs are addressed, etc.
24 Opportunities for School Psychology Embrace the attitude that the family-school relationship is a priorityHow can we provide leadership in terms of creating and implementing problem-solving structures that include perspective taking, learning from each other, and sharing resources and constraints of each system?Reinforce the need to meet parents where they are, not where we want them to beHow can we reach out to families, to learn from them and about their needs, to assist their children’s learning?
25 Atmosphere: The Climate in Schools for Families and Educators Many words describe what Comer has referred to as a “healthful” climate: trust, respect, welcoming, effective communication, mutual problem solving.Of particular importance is whether educators have examined the school climate to ensure that is welcoming and inclusive to all families.Schools want parents involved, but involvement depends on parents being invited, informed (and educators being informed by), and included, especially for families with low cultural capital.
26 Opportunities for School Psychology Be a resource for parents - ensure parents have needed information to support children’s learning academically, socially, and behaviorallyCreate formal and informal opportunities to communicate and build trust – the “essential lubrication” for more serious interventionUnderscore all communication with shared responsibilityRemove obstacles that inadvertently decrease active participation by parents – provide systematic information about child’s progress and resources to assistEmbrace working with families who feel disconnected
27 Actions: Strategies for Building Shared Responsibility Actions focus on the relationship between families and educators; activities represent a more narrow focus on how to involve familiesGarnering administrative supportActing as a systems advocateImplementing family-school teamsIncreasing problem solving across home and schoolIdentifying and managing conflictSupporting familiesHelping teachers improve communication with families
28 Opportunities for School Psychology Consult on the process for connecting home and school – approach, attitudes, and atmosphere are the “backdrop” of successful application of actions.Comprehensive infrastructure for partnerships must include school readinessMany students need to persist in the face of learning challenges; fostering academic and motivational support for learning is criticalParents and educators must make learning a priorityHighlight motivational support for learning
29 School Psychology can make a difference! Roles for our disciplineEspouse thinking systemically to understand educational outcomes. . .quite simply in and out-of-school time has an impactOpportunity-focused attitudes and actionsEmbrace with a vengeance program development and evaluation to close achievement gaps for student subgroupsEmbrace working with – supporting and learning from - diverse families and their children
30 Roles for the school psychologist Systems consultantsEstablish family-school teamsImplement and evaluate the effect of contextualized family-school interventions on students academic, social, emotional, and behavioral learningDetermine under what circumstances a family-school connection may not be beneficial
31 In closing. . .There is consensus that a new social contract between families and educators is needed.Represented by making “partner” a verbAs we do, I hope we are paying attention to macrosystemic influences and the reason for partnering –for all familiesThere is consensus that leadership and effort are necessary. . .are we –school psychology - ready?