My name is Alexandra Baule, but I go by Alex. A true (upstate) New Yorker, I was born and raised in Syracuse, graduated from Buffalo in 2012, and have now settled into the Hudson Valley. Currently, I work as the director of an early childhood learning center. Our center cares for children 8 weeks to 12 years old. From a very young age my goal was to be a teacher, but it has been within the past seven years that I have become entirely invested in early childhood education. Since early childhood is my passion, it will be the lens I use for much of the work that I do. I am actively involved with our local chapter of the National Association for the Education of Young Children and have had the opportunity to present at state and national conferences. I also teach a Child Development Associate course to adults who are seeking that credential. To learn more about the CDA program, visit The Council for Professional Recognition.
In our world today, education is a business—whether we like it or not. As education professionals and teachers, our stakeholders are the families and communities that we serve. To fully understand the learners in our classrooms, we need to build respectful, reciprocal relationships with the people who surround our students in their every day lives beyond the school doors.
This mini-course will share research on the connection between family/community involvement and motivation/engagement in the classroom. Additionally, the link between child development and building of positive self-concepts surrounding education through family engagement will be discussed. With these backgrounds in place, participants will find tools and resources to implement these strategies for fostering relationships with our stakeholders that may be applied within early childhood, elementary, or secondary education classrooms.
Participants can expect to:
· Examine research to identify the benefits of family and community involvement.
· Reflect on the needs of their own classroom and learners, including but not limited to: age group, demographics, dual language learners.
· Determine various strategies to use within their setting that will be effective to involve families.
· Develop a “plan of action” to engage families and involve community members in their school/classroom culture.
Research suggests that productive and effective educational settings are rich with family and community involvement (Weiss, Caspe, & Lopez, 2006). In classrooms today, early childhood professionals and teachers are faced with unique, individualized circumstances that may create obstacles to building reciprocal relationships with parents of their students and members of the immediate community. Because the barriers seem so great, early childhood professionals and teachers often shy away from opportunities to invite families and communities into the classroom. Some may feel that there is not enough time, either for themselves to create the integrated experiences or time on the end of outside participants. Other educators may feel a lack of resources, whether it be material or monetary, impede their ability to engage families and communities in their efforts. Perhaps due to the diverse population in their classroom, educators find challenges in meeting the needs of the families' culture (Halgunseth, Peterson, Stark & Moodie, 2009). Whatever the underlying issue may be, suggestions to solve these problems will be addressed throughout this mini-course. The short and long term benefits of family and community involvement are too great to be ignored (Calman & Tarr-Whelan, 2005).
Analysis of the Learner and Context
This course will primarily cater to the needs of early childhood education professionals who are pursuing their Child Development Associate. Each unit will have suggested modifications that can be used within elementary and secondary education classrooms.
The Council for Professional Recognition, the issuing organization of CDA credentials, have outlined the following criteria as a necessary skill for prospective candidates:
CDA Competency Standard IV: To establish positive and productive relationships with families.
Functional Area 11: Candidate establishes a positive, responsive, and cooperative relationships with each child’s family, engages in two-way communication with families, encourages their involvement in the program, and supports the child’s relationship with his or her family.
· Given research and findings, describe the benefits of family and community involvement in the classroom.
· Analyze the needs of the learners, families, and community members in their setting to determine what aspects of involvement will be most effective.
· Compile a list of national and local resources and contacts that can aid in developing family and community involvement activities.
· Design a family/community involvement activity or project to be used within their setting that can be shared with other educators.
· Evaluate which factors of projects and methods of involvement have been successful by sharing findings in a discussion forum.