Webinar Recap- Family and Community Engagement Policies in Action (11/16/11)

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UPDATE 11/22/11: Archive & Resources Posted on Harvard Family Research Project Site

Earlier this week, I tuned into the Harvard Family Research Project’s ninth webinar in a series called Achieving Excellence and Innovation in Family, School & Community Engagement.  This final 90-minute webinar (archived here) included some excellent sharing from leaders across the United States working around the clock to meet today’s family engagement challenges.  After each individual, I have included some notes I took away from their respective presentations, and any links referenced.    

Image: http://www.education.com/partner/articles/harvardfam/

Moderator: Catherine Jordan is the Program Manager of SEDL, a private non-profit  education research, development, and dissemination corporation.  Mrs. Jordan served as the moderator of the webinar.  
  • Mrs. Jordan shared that this webinar would capture some main themes from the previous eight webinars to tie it all together.  This ninth part concludes the series called Achieving Excellence and Innovation in Family, School & Community Engagement.
Speaker 1: Karen Mapp, is a lecturer and Director of the Education Policy and Management Program at Harvard Graduate School of Education.  She also serves a a consultant to the U.S. Department of Education on Family Engagement
  • Shared that “Arne Duncan and the US Department of Education is very interested in identifying best practices in family engagement, supporting it and getting these great ideas back out to the schools.”
  • “Goals are to reduce random acts of engagement and make them part of a master coherent plan/strategy.”
  • Sharing of Arne Duncan’s 2010 remarks on FACE: “My vision for family engagement is ambitious…I want to have too many parents demanding excellence in their schools. I want all parents to be real partners in education with their children’s teachers, from cradle to career. In this partnership, students and parents should feel connected–and teachers should feel supported. When parents demand change and better options for their children, they become the real accountability backstop for the educational system.”
  • “Defined “Demand Parents” – Those who understand both their rights and responsibilities when it comes to engaging with and expecting support from schools.  More information on Demand Parents here.  
  • Parents Are…
    • “Supporters of children’s learning”
    • “Monitors of their children’s time, behavior, boundaries, and resources”
    • “Models of lifelong learning and enthusiasm for education”
    • “Advocates for improved learning pops for their children and at their schools”
    • “Decision makers choosers of educational options for their children, the school and community”
    • “Collaborators with those in the community”
    • “We need to find ways to cultivate a national comunity of Demand Parents”
  • Conditions that must be in place before true family engagement occurs…
    • “Parents must believe they have a role”
    • “Parents must have the confidence that they can play a role and succeed – self efficacy”
    • “Families need the skills and knowledge to negotiate these roles”
    • “Schools and other organizations must invite engagement and welcome honor, connect families to learning (Joining Process)”
    • “Families must have access to supports that enable their engagement”
  • How do we create these conditions?
    • “Through capacity-building”
    • “Are we exposing parents to the various roles to build their capacity?”
  • Several Components effectively build capacity
    • “Intentional focus on relationship building” (Trust is build through relationships)
    • “Asset, strength perspective”
    • “Collective versus individual learning environment”
    • “Interactive, hands on, project based”
    • “Shows respect for existing funds of knowledge and soil”
  • System-wide FACE should:
    • “Be focused on improving the core enterprise and is linked to learning”
    • “Be aligned and coherent with the overall goals of the organization”
    • “Span various stakeholders in the sector and mobilizes many people in the organization”
    • “Not be looked at as a ‘stand alone’ or ‘boutique’ project”
    • “Attempt to shift structures and cultures”
Speaker 2: Kiersten Beigel (@headstartgov) works in the is a Head Start Specialist at the Family and Community Partnerships.  Mrs. Beigel provided the history and background of Head Start and also discussed how program leadership can drive efforts to achieve maximum success with parent and family engagement. 
  • “Head Start is Pre School Program which includes age 3-6 as well as Early Head Start (EHS) Birth to 3.  There are 20,000 centers in states, tribes, territories in every county in the United States.”
  • The National Center on Parent, Family and Community Engagement  (PFCE) has been set up.  The purpose of PFCE is to implement a professional  development and community approach that will lead to adoption of research based and research informed practices for promoting integrated, systemic and sustained parent, family and community engagement in HS/EHS programs.” 
  • “Embracing FACE as one of the strongest determinants to school success”
  • “Families need to have opportunities everyday to participate in their child’s school activities”
  • “Website resources includes mini webcasts from Family Engagement Week, PFCE Framework and Self- Assessment Resources”
  • “If We Build It, They WIll Come:  Accelerating Achievement Through Parent and Family Engagement”
  • “Systemic/Strategic Plan is the main piece necessary in FACE approach”
  • “Current structure of SDP includes family engagement Efforts meeting the needs of 137 languages”
  • “We work to empower these families, help them acclimate and look at differentiated supports and services that they need”
  • “We provide a Parents as Partners TV program”
  • “We publish all resources and training in Parent University (PU), http://www.philasd-parentuniversity.org/ which isconnected directly to school improvement plan.  PU is offered in multiple languages in multiple locations and is funded mostly by Title I”
  • “It is important to translate documents and interpret conferences.  We have a Welcome Center called the ‘Welcome Wagon’”
  • Some SDT FACE efforts include- Superintendent’s Roundtables, Community meetings, Parent Appreciation Month, Back to School Extravaganza, Bridging the Digital Divide, Just for Men- Increasing Male Involvement, Bring a Parent to Work Day
  • “Also provide a ‘Dress for Success’ event which focuses on resume writing for parents”

It was a great opportunity to hear from these national FACE leaders share some exciting best practices reaping positive results around the country.  I’d really like to get more FACE leaders on Twitter to enrich the #ptchat, so if any of you who know these talented individuals, please help them be a part of our PLN!  If you have a FACE practice you’d like to share, please do so in the comment section below or at the top of the page in the Idea Share tab.  

If you have any questions, please contact me via email or Twitter @Joe_Mazza
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