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Lesson Plans

Fwd: Preparing Teachers in Family Involvement report -- message 1

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betti longinotti (p-lstudio)
Thu, 6 Nov 1997 17:53:19 -0500

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Some interesting reading...

In Art & Life,
Betti L.
or on the www at

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Date: Thu, 6 Nov 1997 17:10:56 -0500
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Subject: Preparing Teachers in Family Involvement report -- message 1
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PARENT PARTICIPATION in children's schooling is so important
that it was established in 1994 as a National Education
Goal. Yet "Teacher preparation in family involvement lags
far behind school efforts to promote family involvement,"
according to a report released yesterday by Vice President
Gore & Secretary Riley at the "Partners for Learning:
Preparing Teachers to Involve Families" teleconference.

The 65-page report, "New Skills for New Schools," examines
reasons for -- and the status of -- teacher preparation in
family involvement. It also provides a *framework* that
illustrates various kinds of teacher training for family
involvement. Unlike other family involvement typologies,
this framework focuses not on actual family involvement
activities carried out in schools, but on the attitudes,
skills & knowledge teachers need to work effectively with

Below are the framework & an excerpt from Chapter 4. The
chapter, "Promising Methods for Teacher Preparation," is
long, so we divided this into 2 messages. The full text of
the report is at:

"New Skills for New Schools: Preparing Teachers in Family
Involvement," 1997, Harvard Family Research Project

NOTE: This framework begins with general knowledge about
family contributions to child development & school
achievement, & then builds toward specialized knowledge such
as ways in which schools can support families & families can
support schools.

Family Involvement Framework for Teacher Training

Type Goals
~~~~ ~~~~~
General Family To provide general information on the goals
Involvement of, benefits of, & barriers to family
involvement. To promote knowledge of, skills
in, & positive attitudes toward involving

General Family To promote knowledge of different families'
Knowledge cultural beliefs, childrearing practices,
structures, & living environments. To
promote an awareness of & respect for
different backgrounds & lifestyles.

Home-School To provide various techniques & strategies to
Communication improve two-way communication between home &
school (and/or parent & teacher).

Family Involvement To provide information on how to involve
in Learning parents in their children's learning outside
Activities of the classroom.

Families To provide information on ways to involve
Supporting Schools parents in helping the school, both within
& outside the classroom.

Schools Supporting To examine how schools can support
Families families' social, educational, & social service
needs through parent education programs,
parent centers, & referrals to other
community or social services.

Families as To introduce ways to support & involve
Change Agents parents & families in decision making, action
research, child advocacy, parent & teacher
training, & development of policy, programs,
& curriculum.

Promising Methods for Teacher Preparation (Chapter 4)
The 9 programs featured in this report shared common innovative
practices. These practices focused on developing prospective
teachers' problem-solving skills by exposing them to challenging
situations which required them to negotiate sensitive issues.
The programs also provided them with opportunities to work in
schools & communities -- often under the guidance of experienced
professionals -- where they were able to gain valuable
communication & interpersonal skills, especially when dealing
with families with very different backgrounds from their own.
These community experiences also gave them the opportunity to
develop collaborative skills with professionals from other
disciplines. In addition, the programs emphasized the
application of research skills to develop a better understanding
of families & communities. They encouraged the use of
information about families to develop family involvement
activities & to create supplemental materials for classroom use.

These programs utilized guest speakers, role play, the case
method, community experiences, research with families &
communities, self-reflection, & interprofessional education.

GUEST SPEAKERS. Attending guest lectures & discussions led by
parents, practicing teachers, experts from other disciplines, or
co-instructors in teacher education courses provides prospective
teachers opportunities to learn from & interact with key players
in children's education. Program faculty & researchers alike
attested to the benefits of drawing upon the expertise of
parents, school personnel, & faculty in other disciplines to
enrich teacher preparation.

Examples of Guest Speakers

* Program graduates, who researched family involvement during
their own teacher preparation programs, talked about what
they had learned from their projects & how they had applied
that knowledge to their first weeks of teaching.
* A parent-school coordinator, parents with special needs
children, social work faculty, & special educators described
how Individual Family Service Plans are developed with
families. A home-school coordinator spoke to prospective
teachers about her work & discussed ways in which teachers
could promote family involvement.
* A human development counseling specialist presented a parent
effectiveness training model & discussed skills to use in
parent-teacher conferences.

ROLE PLAY. Role play requires students to act out situations
that they might face when working with parents. Role play gives
prospective teachers simulated experience in communicating,
handling difficult or threatening situations, & resolving
conflict. By dramatizing situations, prospective teachers become
emotionally engaged & learn in a "hands-on" manner about the
situations that they will face in their classrooms.

Because role play usually takes place in the university
classroom, teacher educators can analyze their students'
reactions & responses, & peers can give feedback. By alternately
playing the roles of teacher & parent, prospective teachers can
gain a better understanding of each perspective.

Examples of Role Play Scenarios

* Negotiating differences of opinion with a parent
* Communicating with a parent about his or her child's poor
performance or behavior
* Conducting a parent-teacher conference
* Discussing a student portfolio with a parent
* Explaining a new curriculum to a parent
* Talking with a parent who is angry or upset

CASE METHOD. In the case method, prospective teachers read about
dilemmas or ambiguous situations that could arise in working with
parents. After reading the cases, these students analyze &
discuss them, referring to their own relevant experiences & to
the theories & principles covered in class.

Because the case method approach encourages prospective teachers
to examine many possible responses to a particular situation, &
to evaluate the merits & drawbacks of each of these responses,
they are able to understand the complexities of home-school
relationships. Students' analyses of these situations help them
develop crucial problem-solving skills. The case method also
offers students the opportunity to integrate their beliefs with
known theories as they respond to complex & problematic,
real-life situations (Hochberg, 1993).

Examples of the Case Method

* One program used a case study example in which a young girl
in a program for migrant workers had difficulty being
understood because she always held her hand over her mouth
when she spoke. A month into the program, the girl's
teacher met the mother & discovered that she also spoke with
her hand in front of her mouth, to hide the fact that she
had no teeth. This case demonstrated that the child's
communication problems were the result of her modeling her
mother's behavior. The class looked at this case from
multiple perspectives. The goal was for students to avoid
jumping to conclusions or making assumptions about children
or families.

* Another program presented a case in which a parent & teacher
had different agendas for a parent-teacher conference. To
analyze the case, students wrote a 15-page response to the
parent, drawing from 1 of the developmental frameworks
presented in class. Responses were read aloud to classmates
acting in the role of the parent, who then gave feedback
from that perspective.

(continued in message 2)


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