Presentation on theme: "Colorado Families as Faculty Project Families as Faculty: Improving Home-School Communication Beth Schaffner."— Presentation transcript:
Colorado Families as Faculty Project Families as Faculty: Improving Home-School Communication Beth Schaffner
IHE Parent/Family Engagement & Participation Goal: To assist Colorado Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) in assuring that individuals preparing to work in the field of special education: Understand the role families play and the importance of actively engaging all families in meaningful ways in the work of creating successful schools, classrooms, and special education support services for students with disabilities. Evaluate their own values and beliefs about families and family engagement, including beliefs that lead to assumptions about a family’s lack of ability to participate in schools in decision-making roles. Learn strategies and skills for communicating with families in a positive and productive way. Learn strategies for setting a climate for active family engagement in schools and communities, including communication strategies. Identify action steps for engaging families in their work. Colorado State Improvement Grant Goal 1 - Recruitment and Retention
Colorado Families as Faculty Project Collaborative project: PEAK Parent Center, CDE and IHE Funding provided to PEAK Parent Center through the Colorado State Improvement Grant, Goal 1 (Recruitment and Retention of Quality Educators) Provides future teachers with hands-on, real life experiences with students with disabilities and their families Provides future teachers with the opportunity to reflect on their experience visiting families and apply what they learn to their goals as future educators
If asked, most parents, teachers, and principals will agree that parents need to be involved in and supportive of education. Yet in many places, parents are not actively involved in the life of the school; Instead they are spending most of their time and energies organizing bake sales, if they are involved at all. Henderson, 1995 Colorado Families as Faculty Project
Colorado Families as Faculty Project Why Families as Faculty? Knowledge of their child that no one else has. A serious interest in their child’s education. Interest and expertise as their child’s first teachers. Accountability as citizens for successful schools. Strengths and interests to contribute to the educational process. WHAT DO FAMILIES BRING TO THE TABLE? from Seymour Sarason (1995)
Checklist for Attitudes: Do I believe that parents bring unique expertise to our relationship? Do I believe in the importance of family participation in decision-making at the individual, program and policy level? Do I believe that parents’ perspectives and opinions are as important as professionals’? Do I believe that families bring a critical element to the team that no one else can provide? Do I consistently let others know that I value the insights of families? Do I work to create an environment in which families feel supported and comfortable enough to speak freely? adapted from Jeppson & Thomas Colorado Families as Faculty Project
Colorado Families as Faculty Project Outcomes for the University Students As a result of the Families as Faculty project, student participants will : 1. Understand the importance of home-school relationships. 2. Expand their knowledge of inclusive schooling practices. 3. Recognize their personal beliefs, values, and attitudes about disabilities, special education, students, and families. 4. View families as teachers and peer collaborators. 5. Appreciate that all children and families are different with unique strengths, values, beliefs and challenges. 6. Build skills for communicating with families in positive and productive ways. 7. Begin planning how they will incorporate what they learn from this project into their practices as educators. Why Families as Faculty?
Colorado Families as Faculty Project …..visit with students in a safe, non-threatening place where they direct the conversation. …..share positive and negative stories about their experiences with the educational system. …..feel empowered and in a position to influence positive systems change. …..explain how educators’ words, actions, and attitudes impact the entire family. Outcomes for the Families: Why Families as Faculty?
Colorado Families as Faculty Project To give children and young adults with disbilities the opportunity to feel empowered. Adults ask them questions, listen, and respond to what they have to say about having a disability. To give brothers and sisters the opportunity to share views and feelings about having a brother or sister who has a disability. Why Families as Faculty?
Colorado Families as Faculty Project For the families….. Attend orientation meeting. Schedule visit when contacted by assigned students. Return completed evaluation and stipend form after visit. Participate in 30-45 minute follow-up phone interview. PROJECT RESPONSIBILITIES
Colorado Families as Faculty Project For the university students….. Class orientation session with PEAK staff Family visits Class wrap-up session with PEAK staff Write reflection paper PROJECT RESPONSIBILITIES (this is all done in collaboration with the university faculty.)
Colorado Families as Faculty Project What do families talk about during the visit? Why is home-school communication important to you? What does inclusion look like for your child in home, school, and community? How does your family respond to the challenge of having a member with a disability? What do you need from educators to work as a team on behalf of your child? Share a vignette or two about your experience (positive and negative) when communicating with educators
Colorado Families as Faculty Project Pilot Project, Spring, 2006 University of Colorado at Colorado Springs “Introduction to Special Education” Class Special and General Education Teacher Candidates 36 university students 18 host families
“How valuable was this opportunity to visit with families in their homes?” Colorado Families as Faculty Project 3.96 University Student Response Pilot Project, Spring, 2006
Do not let their children slip through because you lowered your expectations. Have some sort of meaningful communication daily with parents. Do not pre-judge children with disabilities until you have met and worked with them. Colorado Families as Faculty Project From Student Reflection Papers: What I want to remember for my own practice as a teacher:
I want to remember to never underestimate a child’s abilities. I want to remember that even though a child has a disability, that doesn’t mean that they do not have the ability to dream and want more in life. Colorado Families as Faculty Project I learned the first hand perspective of the family members living with a person who has a disability is really a powerful and valuable source of information.
I want to remember that even though a child has a disability, that doesn’t mean that they do not have the ability to dream and want more in life. It was an amazing experience that made me feel empowered in my own life and struggles. I want to remember to make all children feel they are equals. I do not want anyone to feel left out, bullied, teased, or misplaced in my classroom. Colorado Families as Faculty Project
Colorado Families as Faculty Project Follow-Up Phone Interviews with Host Families They saw us as a regular family, just like them. They listened and heard my perspective. They saw that families have a contribution to make. It was a real eye-opener for them. This program should be a model for the nation.
Colorado Families as Faculty Project Next Steps? Expand to more CO IHE’s? Families as Faculty programs with inservice educators? What are the possibilities?
It is in the best interest of everyone in society that schools are based on values of justice and equality. There is no way to legislate such values. In the long run, the only insurance rests with the parents and teachers who uphold these values to organize and work together. (Levin et al, 1995) Colorado Families as Faculty Project