Developing Family and Community Involvement Skills Through Case Studies and Field Experiences

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9780130486226: Developing Family and Community Involvement Skills Through Case Studies and Field Experiences

Ideal for adding structure to early field experience, this practical new book offers a well-organized, flexible program that will help new teachers acquire the critical skills they need to establish effective, productive relationships with the families of their pupils and members of the community in which they teach. Straightforward, clearly written coverage includes a wide array of realistic case studies, field experiences, and issues for discussion that sensitively address the increasing diversity of family structures in American society. Case studies at the end of every chapter involve readers in realistic teacher/school vs. family/community challenges, and introduces them to various family structures, circumstances, and situations. Every chapter contains both school- and community- based activities for pre-service teachers. This compact, yet comprehensive treatment includes reflective ethnographic research strategies, and covers all of the major issues related to family/community involvement without unnecessary detail. For pre-service and in-service teachers of elementary school grade levels.

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About the Author:

Ronald Diss is director of educational outreach and professor of education at Emory & Henry College in Virginia. Pamela Buckley is director of marketing for the Government Division of The Gallup Organization in Washington, DC. They have coauthored a number of articles on teacher education and presented papers at national teacher education association conferences on teacher effectiveness, parent involvement, and rural education.

Ron Diss received his Ed.D. from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He has taught elementary, middle, and high school grades in private and public schools, where he also was an elementary school principal. At Emory & Henry College he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in child development and reading education. He has also supervised student teachers and directed the college's Mentor Teacher Preparation Program, the Early Field Experience Program, and the Office of Academic Support Services. Diss is active in providing professional development to improve literacy education in K-12 schools. In addition to several articles on reflective practice, he is the author of Recruiting and Training Volunteer Tutors for Emergent and Beginning Readers, and a companion training video titled The ABC's of Tutoring to assist parents, teachers, and community volunteers working with children in need of support to develop literacy skills. Diss is a past president of the Association of Teacher Educators in Virginia, and a sitting member of Virginia's Advisory Board on Teacher Education and Licensure (ABTEL).

Pam Buckley received her Ed. D. from the University of Houston. She has taught remedial and developmental reading, English, and social studies in junior and senior high schools, adult basic education courses in a community college, and teacher education courses at the university level. While completing her doctoral work at the University of Houston, Buckley directed the Houston Area Teacher Center, supervised student teachers, and taught undergraduate courses in classroom management. She was director of the Commonwealth Center for the Education of Teachers at James Madison University, where she encouraged and supported innovative practices in teacher education among Virginia's 37 public and private teacher preparation institutions. Buckley is a former vice president of Appalachia Educational Laboratory, where she also directed the Appalachia Eisenhower Regional Math/ Science Consortium and the Region IV Comprehensive Technical Assistance Center. She has published articles on teacher education in Science Educator, Issues & Inquiry in College Learning and Teaching, and the Journal of Staff Development. In addition to her work in education, she has had wide experience working in business and private industry in the United States and the Middle East.

Diss and Buckley have written this book to inspire and enable educators to reach out to families and community agencies to establish meaningful partnerships.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

PURPOSE AND STRUCTURE OF THIS BOOK

We have written this book primarily to help preservice teachers and school personnel (e.g., teachers, administrators, and counselors) develop the necessary skills to involve families and communities as partners in K-12 education.

The book is also appropriate for adding a service-learning component to a variety of professional studies courses and to service providers other than educators who need to learn about family involvement. A survey of training programs in eight related fields conducted by the Carolina Institute for Research on Infant Personnel Preparation found that programs in nutrition, psychology, special education, and speech-language pathology all needed additional course content in family involvement (Bailey, Simeonsson, Yoder, & Huntington, 1990). This list reasonably could be extended to include occupational and physical therapists and members of the social service professions. Winton and DiVenere (1995) suggest that most professionals in early intervention have received little training on how to collaborate with families. For this reason, references to teachers in this text include the broader professional audience.

Each chapter addresses a significant characteristic of the contemporary family followed by an Application section and a Supplemental Activities section designed to teach the dynamics of effective home-school partnerships. The Application section includes practical strategies for working with those families characterized in the chapter and a case study and discussion guide related to the chapter's content. The Supplemental Activities section includes school-based and community-based field experiences, response journal prompts, and role playing and reflection exercises. The strategies, case studies, field experiences, and other activities are designed to encourage students to examine, reflect, and construct meaning about family structures, attitudes toward family involvement, the complexities associated with establishing effective home-school partnerships, and to learn about social service agencies that provide family support and resources.

OVERVIEW OF THE CHAPTERS AND CASE STUDIES

The themes in the text address the significant areas of change that are characteristic of the contemporary American family. Each chapter provides an overview of the key issues, rather than an in-depth treatment because the text is intended to complement the content of professional studies courses by adding a family involvement component without overburdening existing course curricula. These themes are developed in other sources in greater depth for those who desire more extensive information.

Chapter 1 describes significant areas of change in the structure of contemporary American families, ethnic and cultural demographics, income levels, and families with children who have special needs. The case study at the end of Chapter 1, "Who's Responsible for Damien?", presents a situation in which a teacher and a single parent have difficulty communicating because of differing expectations for each other's roles and responsibilities. Chapter 2 focuses on the family's role in education and the impact of family involvement. The case study at the end of Chapter 2, "Can't Rules be Bent?", highlights how a single father's experience with poor school-to-home communication and an unbending school policy make it almost impossible for him to form any type of meaningful partnership with his son's school. Chapter 3 describes challenges to viable home-school partnerships with families of varying income levels. The case study at the end of Chapter 3, "Is Anyone Listening?", presents a young girl who feels isolated and different from her classmates because of her family's lower socioeconomic status. She is a target of ridicule from her peers because of her physical appearance and lack of resources. Chapter 4 addresses how families from different cultures view their roles in their children's education. The case study at the end of Chapter 4, "Who Suffers When Cultures Coltide?", highlights the situation of a young Asian American girl who runs into difficulty when others are insensitive to her culture. Chapter 5 describes nontraditional families and different parenting styles. The case study at the end of Chapter 5, "How Do Family Structures Affect Classroom Instruction?", illustrates a situation in which a teacher unwittingly isolates a student from his peers and focuses negative attention on the young man because he doesn't consider different family structures when making an assignment. Chapter 6 discusses families of children who have special needs including those who are gifted and talented. The case study at the end of Chapter 6, "Who's Responsible When a Child with Special Needs Fails?", describes a gifted and talented student who also has special learning needs. Chapter 7 presents four profiles of schools that have involved families in effective home-school partnerships. The case study at the end of Chapter 7, "Developing a Plan," suggests strategies for schools to establish successful school-home partnerships.

LEARNING WITH CASE STUDIES

Cases are a highly effective way of helping learners understand complex issues (Ball, Lambert, & Rosenberg, 1991; Doyle, 1990; Feltovich, Spiro, & Coulson, 1997; Merseth, 1996; Wasserman, 1994). The cases are meant to stimulate reflection and discussion about the complexities of classrooms and family involvement. As learners discuss the cases, they identify interrelated features and uncover the many layers of issues surrounding critical aspects of the cases. Discussing and analyzing cases helps developing teachers gain valuable experience understanding issues and forming realistic solutions to complex problems related to family involvement. Although short, the cases contain multiple strands of inquiry into critical issues affecting home-school partnerships. The cases can be used in a variety of program structures (e.g., classrooms, seminars, or workshops), and may be taught within a 1-hour time frame or longer. Specific suggestions on how to teach with cases are given in Appendix B.

LEARNING DURING FIELD EXPERIENCES AND REFLECTIVE EXERCISES

Field experiences offer opportunities for preservice teachers to learn the dynamics of effective home-school partnerships through inquiry, observation and participation, and dialogue, a process practiced by effective teachers to inform their teaching decisions (Borko & Putnam, 2000; Greeno & the Middle School through Applications Project Group, 1998; Wildman & Niles, 1987). Research indicates that experience in this reflective process enables preservice teachers to learn the skills they will need to be successful practitioners in classrooms characterized by increasingly complex contexts (Diss & Kolenbrander, 1993; Kersh, 1995).

To be effective, teachers must continuously reflect on their teaching decisions and modify their practices to enhance student achievement. Early field experiences provide an excellent context for introducing preservice teachers to this critically necessary reflective process.

It has been well established that classrooms are highly complex social environments (Brophy, 1988; Brophy & Good, 1986; Kersh, 1995; Schon, 1983). These environments are characterized by ever-changing contexts that teachers must constantly monitor to make appropriate instructional decisions (Borko & Putnam, 1996). Successful teachers know about these phenomena and use reflection and other technical skills to organize and deliver instruction accordingly (Cazden, 1981; Feltovich et al., 1997; Gold, 1996; Posner, 1995; Putnam, 1984). Understandably, learning these skills is viewed as an ongoing process (Greeno, 1997; McNamara, 1995; Wildman & Niles, 1987), and educators are best served when they are introduced to this process early in their teacher preparation experience (Greeno & the Middle School through Applications Project Group, 1998; Guy, 1993; Shulman, 1987; Wildman & Niles, 1987).

As Kersh (1995) reminds us, Knowing why a plan, an activity, or a total curriculum is a success (or failure) is as important as knowing it was successful. Knowing the rationale, the context, and the theory of successful learning experiences requires reflection on that experience. Studentteachers should understand they will learn not from experience but from reflection on that experience. Preparation programs must demand reflection on practice so frequently that it becomes a habit of teaching. (p. 103)

Teachers need to learn early in their teacher preparation programs strategies for involving families in the education of their children (Evans-Schilling, 1996; Harvard Family Research Project, 1997). Teacher educators and program directors can help future teachers develop these skills by designing early field experiences that include inquiry about school and classroom events, observation and participation in schools, dialogue (with peers, school personnel, and professors), and reflection on their observations of what school personnel do and say about encouraging and nurturing family involvement. Participation in this process exposes preservice teachers to the skills and benefits of "reflective practice." In addition, knowledge of how community members and agencies may partner with schools and families in the education of children is increasingly shown to be an important aspect of learning to teach (Grinberg & Goldfarb, 1998). Field experiences within the community enable preservice teachers to learn important information about community diversity, culture, and resources (Young & Edwards, 1996). Opportunities to reflect on issues surrounding teaching and family involvement within a community context enable preservice teachers to practice the dynamics of reflective practice while learning how to establish viable partnerships in real contexts. This book provides well-defined directions for establishing and conducting a reflective early field experience program. General guidelines for early field experiences appear in Appendix C.

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