Presentation on theme: "1 Families, Educators, and the Family- School Partnership: Issues or Opportunities for Promoting Children’s Learning Competence? Sandra L. Christenson."— Presentation transcript:
1 Families, Educators, and the Family- School Partnership: Issues or Opportunities for Promoting Children’s Learning Competence? Sandra L. Christenson 2002 Invitational Conference: The Future of School Psychology November 15, 2002
2 Our progress... The effect of and contributions by families to educational outcomes Models for family involvement Importance of establishing shared goals and monitoring child/adolescent progress Characteristics of collaborative relationships Home- 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 schools Diminished resources for implementing family-school programs Challenges in reaching all families Challenges in addressing the needs of ELL Far 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 learning Affordance value of the learning context – how home and school provide supports and opportunities for the child to meet the challenges and demands of schooling Effect of macrosystemic influences – current landscape of educational reform
5 Different foci... Currently have a primary emphasis on involving families Refocus connection in terms of enhancing learning competencies Benefits 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 thinking Opportunity to learn in and out of school Assessment-intervention link empowers parents and educators to help students meet the demands of school Opportunity-focused attitudes and actions Is 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 students Academic engagement Cognitive engagement Behavioral engagement Psychological engagement
million children under age 18 – 26% Describe the changing population and family context in which American children are living Increases for children with a foreign born parent Increases in ethnic diversity 75% of poor children live in working families Sharp increase in families headed by unmarried partners Less 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 1979 Supports 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 600 Families 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 population 24% 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 performance Allow us to identify students for systematic intervention – those for whom there is an achievement gap Point 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 overemphasized In reality, there are reasons for families, educators, and the family-school relationship Some represent access; others psychological
13 Issues for Families Structural Lack of role models, information, and knowledge about resources Child care and transportation Linguistic and cultural differences, resulting in less “how to” knowledge about how schools function and their role Psychological Feelings of inadequacy Suspicion about treatment from educators Lack of responsiveness to parental needs
14 Issues for Educators Structural Lack of funding for family outreach programs Lack of training for educators on how to maintain a partnership with families Psychological Use of negative communication about students’ school performance Doubts about the abilities of families to address schooling concerns Fear of conflict with families
15 Issues for the Family-School Relationships Structural Limited time for communication and meaningful dialogue Limited contact for building trust Lack of a routine communication system Psychological Limited use of perspective taking Limiting impressions of child to observations in only one environment Failure to recognize the importance of preserving the family-school relationship across time
16 Let’s focus on the psychological! Families: self-efficacy and role construction If 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 reports Shared decision making process: Access – rights to inclusion Voice – heard and listened to at all points Ownership – satisfaction with and contribution to an action plan affecting them
18 Issues as opportunities Opportunity to expand our roles by creating home-school learning environments Opportunity to create family-school connections to “close gaps’ in students’ educational performance Opportunity 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 meeting Need sustained interaction across school years
20 Approach:The Framework for Interaction with Families Parents are essential not merely desirable for children’s optimal school performance Risk for school failure denoted by interface Low-risk: child/family and schooling system communicate, develop shared meaning, provide congruent messages High-risk: child deriving messages that result in conflicting emotions, motives, goals Focus 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 partnership Educators 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 communication Enhance problem solving across home and school Encourage shared decision making Reinforce congruent home-school support
23 Attitudes:The Values and Perceptions Held about Family-School Relationships Collaboration involves: Equality – the willingness to listen to, respect, and learn from one another Parity – the blending of knowledge, skills, and ideas to enhance the relationship, and outcomes for children Employ 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 priority How 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 be How 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 behaviorally Create formal and informal opportunities to communicate and build trust – the “essential lubrication” for more serious intervention Underscore all communication with shared responsibility Remove obstacles that inadvertently decrease active participation by parents – provide systematic information about child’s progress and resources to assist Embrace 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 families Garnering administrative support Acting as a systems advocate Implementing family-school teams Increasing problem solving across home and school Identifying and managing conflict Supporting families Helping 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 readiness Many students need to persist in the face of learning challenges; fostering academic and motivational support for learning is critical Parents and educators must make learning a priority Highlight motivational support for learning
29 School Psychology can make a difference! Roles for our discipline Espouse thinking systemically to understand educational outcomes...quite simply in and out- of-school time has an impact Opportunity-focused attitudes and actions Embrace with a vengeance program development and evaluation to close achievement gaps for student subgroups Embrace working with – supporting and learning from - diverse families and their children
30 Roles for the school psychologist Systems consultants Establish family-school teams Implement and evaluate the effect of contextualized family-school interventions on students academic, social, emotional, and behavioral learning Determine 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 verb As we do, I hope we are paying attention to macrosystemic influences and the reason for partnering –for all families There is consensus that leadership and effort are necessary...are we –school psychology - ready?