School Interrupted

Authentic Parent Engagement: Two Unique Perspectives

November 21, 2022 Debbie Pushor Engagement Group.
School Interrupted
Authentic Parent Engagement: Two Unique Perspectives
Show Notes Transcript

There’s a lot of talk about how to engage families in schools, it’s an important issue to discuss. We want families to be part of a student’s education and we want them to feel welcome on the school landscape. Part of the conversation around this should then be how to engage families in curriculum and learning. How do we do this in a real and authentic way? 

Today’s podcast host, Lindsay Munroe, is a mother of two and a Grade 3 teacher. She will be speaking with Kirsten Kobylak and Brett Rowland, both teachers–one primary grades and one high school–who have had some real success in this area. Join us as these three educators share their thoughts, perspectives, and ideas with you today.


Kobylak, K. (2015). The family-school storytelling connection. In D. Pushor and the Parent Engagement Collaborative II, Living as mapmakers: Charting a course with children guided by parent knowledge (pp.8-103). Sense Publishers. 

Pushor, D. (2013). Bringing into being a curriculum of parents. In D. Pushor and the Parent Engagement Collaborative, Portals of promise: Transforming beliefs and practices through a curriculum of parents (pp. 5-19). Sense Publishers

Pushor, D. (2013). Planning and living a curriculum of parents. In D. Pushor and the Parent Engagement Collaborative, Portals of promise: Transforming beliefs and practices through a curriculum of parents (pp. 21-55). Sense Publishers.

For detailed information on Brett Rowland’s parent student book clubs, contact Brett at Brett can share with you his introductory letter to parents, book club lists, the check in assignments he designed for students and families, and samples of those assignments. Ask him to share feedback he has received from parents; their comments about their connections with their kids and their learning are powerful! 

This podcast is sponsored by Debbie Pushor Engagement Group Inc.  

Welcome to school interrupted. Join us in rewriting narratives surrounding parents engagement in schooling and education. Let's talk about making a shift to family centric schools.
Hello, my name is Lindsay Monroe, and I'm an educator and a literacy coach. And I'm also a mother. I have two wonderful girls, one in high school and the other in the upper elementary grades. As both a teacher and a parent, I've often wondered about how to improve family engagement in schools. Sometimes it's hard for parents to know how and when to step in, and help their child learn. It's also hard for teachers to think of the best ways to engage families and learning. There's a lot of talk about how to engage families in schools. It's an important issue to discuss. As we navigated through pandemic learning, especially some of the walls between home and school crumbled out of necessity. Practices, like remote learning, provided parents a window into what their children were learning in school. What lessons can we take from this to move this conversation forward? We want families to be a part of student's education. And we want them to feel welcome in our buildings. Part of the discussion around this should then be how to engage families in curriculum and learning. We know that students have a better chance for success when families are engaged in learning. But how do we do this in a real and authentic way? Today, we will be speaking with two teachers, one high school and one primary grades, who had some real success in this area. Hi, Kiersten. So you're, you're a teacher in the primary grades, primarily kindergarten and grade one. This year, you're doing a little bit of a different role that you can talk about a little later. But I've heard such wonderful things about your family engagement projects. Before we get into that, can you tell me a little bit just about your journey towards more authentic parent engagement and learning? Like was it a focus from you or for you from the beginning? Or did it kind of develop gradually throughout your career,
I would say it definitely has developed throughout my career. And it really started in taking Debbie pushers courses, and starting my journey in graduate work. Just because of the readings and the experiences that were given to us. And really taking advantage of the reflection and participating fully in what was offered to us to make us see things through a different lens, I would say that they're the one example experience that really stood out is when we had to go to the friendship Inn. And we weren't allowed to sit together as a cohort, we had to go to the friendship in and just engage with the people, the patrons that were already there. So we'd sit and eat lunch with them, and just try to start our own conversations with them. And that was the most humbling experience that I've ever gone through. And, you know, I drove up in my car. And I almost drove away. And I thought, no, no, no, I have to, I have to do this. I have to make myself vulnerable to these experiences and see what I can learn from them. And how this is going to help me develop my philosophy of families and teaching and providing what's best for students. So I parked and I went in and sat down and I had such amazing conversations with strangers, and everybody was so friendly. So that really helped me see things through a different lens and just sort of prepare me for Yes, I can have conversations with with strangers. And yes, I can learn from anybody. And it's just our job to make that first move. And it's the same with families that come to us and bring their students to our classrooms. And just to not be afraid of them to welcome them into the room and ask questions and visit and try and develop those reciprocal relationships that will only help us in our classrooms. So it was definitely The the experiences that Debbie had provided for us, that really started me off. And that happened to be in the summertime. So then I was ready. When I in the spring or in the fall, I mean, in my kindergarten class, just to start things off in a new light. So it was a really enlightening experience being part of those courses in the summertime. So that's when it all started. I would say that was about nine years ago.
Wow. Yeah. Well, I know, Debbie took us to the friendship in the summer as well. So it's a project that she's kept going. And I can attest to how challenging that is to be in a room full of strangers, you know, all kinds of different people and to have to try and have a conversation and relate. And it is such a parallel with what we experienced with parents. And I think you're right, that first step of bravery is really, and the reaching out, is really what we need to do. And with us being in that, you know, position of power as educators, that's, that's just our responsibility. Yes, yeah. And even to just,
you know, realize that I felt so uncomfortable going into a neighborhood that I wasn't familiar with, or a building I wasn't familiar with. And some families may feel the same. When they enter a school. They may feel uncomfortable entering a school, or maybe they're brand new to the country or brand new to the city. So it really, you know, helped me see something from the other, you know, another person's or another situation?
Yeah, yeah. No, I think you're right about that. We never know what they're thinking when they enter the school building and, and how they're, they're seeing it and what intimidations they may have. So no, I completely agree. So what are some of the strategies and projects that you've used that have really helped you to develop your, your parent engagement, the most?
It definitely has started with different levels of engagement. And I think it's fair to say that it's okay for people to start small. And I know we're used to teaching in a certain sort of way and getting the curriculum taught. And it's all about rethinking that family engagement is not extra for the curriculum, it enhances your curriculum. So you don't need to do a separate, it's not a separate unit on family engagement. It's something that you start at the beginning of the year when you build community in your classroom, and it continues the whole year. So it's not, it can it includes but it's not only parents visiting the classroom, to teach celebrations, or to come and join us for special occasions or performances. Those are definitely encouraged and are a huge part of our sharing of our learning. But it goes beyond that. And I think once you start with small, you start small, and you see the benefits. And eventually you can get really, really deep enrichment. And families can even help you build curriculum. And in kindergarten, I started with a storytelling type of get to know the cultures in our, in the classroom, and the the families were invited to send in a story. And the kids would practice it at home. And then they would come tell us at school and then we would act it out. So the the boys and girls had to make a story map of their own stories. And then we practice acting them out on the stage. So it was part of our language arts program. We even had families come in and read a story read their favorite story, and in their own language. So they would come in. And if they spoke a different language, they would share the book, they would show the different alphabet that was used, and then they would read it in their language. And it was just so beautiful the way the kids paid attention. Even if they didn't understand what the words were, everybody was totally engaged with with listening. And the student whose mom or dad was there reading was really, really you could just see the pride on their face. And I'll probably bring this up quite a bit because that's one of the things that stands out the most is just watching the students when it's their family that's being highlighted in the classroom. And I also had potluck and different sort of family classroom gatherings where they bring a family artifact to talk about. And so it really started with those types of curricular activities. And then I really wanted to start thinking a bit deeper about how can families really help me not only enhance curriculum but build curriculum? This is what's in the curriculum. How do you want? How can you help me teach this, so that we can recognize that the students learn from their households first, and everybody learns in a different way, if you come from a different country, you learn math, we may learn the same kind of math, but maybe they learn it through a different way, or maybe they have a different way, or some different games that we could play. But actually, the one in kindergarten, we started with celebrations. And so I just had a family array invited families to come after school. And we just made a whole list of possible things that we could celebrate, that were coming up, and some had some really, really great ideas that I never would have thought of summer solstice and Winter Solstice, or International Women's Day, or there was a whole bunch of made celebrating with the maypole. And things that I never would have thought of, because, you know, you think of the the ones that we traditionally celebrate at school, just the Eastern Valentine's and Christmas, which a lot of kids do celebrate. But there's also other things to look at as well. So recognizing those is important, and having families contribute to that helps to open space for them to share what they know and make them. Well, Debbie says the keepers of knowledge are the holders of of knowledge, really. The main one, though, was our learning from household project. And that was really when I decided to do home visits. At first, I really, I wasn't quite ready for them when I taught kindergarten. And like I said, I started small, and just really, really saw the benefits of everything that was happening. And I just got braver and braver as each year went by. And I just decided I was gonna do home visits. And it's not really heard of to do home visits in grade one, especially in the community that I was teaching. And there's a stigma attached to home visits, and that you do them when there's a problem. So I just sent a letter and I related it. My rationale was for the Social Studies curriculum in grade one about it was all about families, and just trying to make that family unit of study more authentic. So it wasn't just, you know, for the first four weeks, we're going to learn about families. Now, it's the whole year and it starts on day one, taking a couple of months. And it's a bit it's busy after school, but it's so so worth it just to go and visit the family at their home and find ways to enhance your curriculum with that. And it's probably the most authentic way that you could learn about families in the social studies curriculum.
Yeah, I love that you said that. It's small steps at the beginning, because I feel like as teachers, we're often thinking that we have to jump in with both feet. And sometimes that prevents us from taking those risks. And I think it's really important for teachers to understand that they can start those small things and and just grow from there. And I think I know that you had focused on families, because, you know, the grade one social studies does focus around there, but I'm even thinking about the grade three students in the grade three curriculum. You know, it's comparing communities throughout the entire social studies curriculum. And you know, you always pick some ISIL, you know, kind of random communities and I just wonder how much more intentional and authentic it would be to make sure that the students in your classroom that their home communities are represented, and compared as well, right. I think it's, there's so many opportunities with that. So yeah, the math bins were what I heard most about and I'd love for you to share how you did this project and how did it connect families with their students learning.
It was something that I was thinking About because I had connected. I had tried family engagement in through social studies and language arts, our school had a math focus at the time, our CIT group was thinking of different math bins that we could create to help learn those additional or reinforced addition and subtraction strategies, just trying to find new ways. I mean, math is such a huge part of the curriculum, and just reading an article about environment as the third teacher, and thinking about what the article was saying and say, hey, you know what, I wonder what would happen if I asked families to donate something, or bring something and that shows math from where they're from? in grade one, math, we start by saying that Math is everywhere. And that's sort of our theme for the whole year. So we always make it a huge point, you know, we go on the nature walks and the pattern walks. And you know, you see Math is everywhere. The bins for me, and I think for the students took it to a different level. Whereas, yes, we're finding patterns on animals, and we're finding patterns in nature. But where else can we find these patterns? Let's ask, let's see what happens. So not like most things having to do with parent engagement, I have no idea how they're going to turn out, I just do them and see what happens. So I sent out an email, just asking for games or think artifacts, so like quilts, or a piece of clothing or regalia or some manipulatives, like jingles from a jingle dress, or any kind of counters or rocks or whatever they might use, or anything that would show how math is represented in their culture. And the very next day, as soon as I sent out the email, the very next day, this a little girl in my room, were her Matey sash to school. And even though I had visited the family at their house, I had no idea that they were Matey until she wore her sash to school. So she went to school and like right away, the kids, we picked out the colors and the patterns on her sash. But not only is it just a pattern, like ABC ABC pattern, it was that the colors represent something that colors represent a pieces have their family for a reason. And not everyone has the same colors on their sash. And so we've just opened it up to such a huge inquiry. And that's what I loved that I loved it. For that reason. It's so cross curricular. And it's all about how you use what the students bring. So as long as you're not using it as a showroom chair, and then you're done. You have to think of a way how am I going to use this now? So so she's worn this sash, she's brought it to school, how are we going to continue this conversation? So we had many, many pieces of clothing, or blankets or rugs, things like that, that were brought in from Pakistan or China or lots of different places. We also had a couple of games that were emailed. So the same little girl who brought the sash it was her grandma, who are her mom actually emailed about cat's cradle, and how that is a meaty game. And I know lots of us played cat's cradle with the strings when we were little. So I invited her I said, Well, why don't you come in and show the class because it's way more meaningful if they came and talked about it, as opposed to me just saying, you know, so and so's grandma used to play this. This is how you play it. So her grandma came, and she taught me how to do Cat's Cradle because I had forgotten and then she stood up and she taught the kids and then the pictures after words. Like I said before, just the the sense of pride on grandma space and her granddaughter space and just talking about where this game came from, and how it relates to her culture and yes, we other culture Do it as well. But this is where it originated from. And then the kids go home and tell their parents and then they're playing Cat's Cradle at home with the string. So it didn't end there. So for regarding the math bins, we just took a basket. And that was one of the math bins. So we took a bunch of yarn and make the strings, put them in the math bin with some instructions. And then on the shelf, that was one of the methods. So when they look at it, it's more than a basket of string. There's a whole story behind it. So each one of those math bins has a story like that. So it's it's a long project. So it takes a month, or you know, it takes a few months to really, really develop it. And then another kind of memorable one family, a dad from Nigeria came and taught us how to play. I forget the name that he called it, but it's called min. Calla. Yes, and yeah, and it's an estimation game. It's has like six holes on each side. And then it's you have to move rocks. So they would in their village, they would play it with rocks. So we were deciding how to get ready for this visit, we couldn't buy a board game for everybody. So the kids decided to use a curtains because their sticks on each side. So then we painted them and we got some rocks and things ready for when he came in. He taught that to the kids, he played against me and one every time. So the kids thought that that was hilarious, because I was terrible at at it. But he he said, You know this is estimation and you have to do mental math. And so he was teaching us about math. And that's the same with the cat's cradle. It's dicksterity. It's fine motor, it's problem solving. So every everything behind it has a curricular objective, I guess you could say,
math is such a wonderful starting point, because it really is so universal. You know, different cultures may represent things differently, or, or whatever. But math is really ingrained in all of us no matter our differences. So you know, what a great starting point and connection. Kids, especially young kids love to share anything and everything about themselves. So the sense of pride and connection, especially connecting students with their families, it feels like sometimes they're, you know, they're in their school box, and then they're in their family box. But really bridging that gap and helping families to be, you know, and to represent how important they are in the classroom. I mean, that's, that's a great thing that we can do as teachers, I think, and I think you've done that really, really well. I love hearing those stories. What are some of the challenges that you've had to navigate in terms of engaging families? Because I know as teachers, we're always thinking, what about this? Or what about this? So what are some of those things that you've had to kind of work around or problem solve?
I would say, the just the fear of not getting any response. And I think like you said, it's the fear that holds us back. Yeah, I just do it and see what happens. And so far, I've never had anybody who's never responded. And I always think, you know, if one or two people respond, that's a great start, because it's something that we're not used to doing. Once you get two or three people at respond to you, then it's got a trickle down effect. And it depends what you do with it. So if you use it in the classroom, and the kids are excited about it, then they'll go home and share this information. Or if you have a way of of sharing it, you know, if you have a Facebook, a closed group Facebook page with your families, or if you do seesaw or something that that you use to communicate with your families. There's never 100% participation, but that's okay. Because I think everybody's learning about it and reading about it and everyone has their own comfort level. And I would say another well a challenge that's taken up a few years to talk about would be like I mentioned before, Canadian people that are born in Canada don't see themselves as having culture or tradition has been a very interesting conversation to try and work through. And I feel like people have been very creative about it. And just recognizing that we may not we all come from somewhere. We were born here, but we come from somewhere so it might it'd be a little bit of research. So, you know, if you're Norwegian, maybe you, you, Google, some Norwegian games, like just finding any way to try and make everybody feel like they have a place in the classroom, no matter where they come from. There's never been a negative response about a family night, or an open activity in the classroom or an invitation to, you know, a Chinese New Year's celebration, everybody is always very excited to come and share what they know with their kids and their kids peers. You just have to keep asking. So I guess that would be a barrier. If you are, you know, a shy person or you think you're maybe not confident that this is going to work. But if you keep asking, people will keep doing things. So you just have to make the first move. And just put yourself even if your day was long, and you're tired, just put yourself out there in the hallway, when the kids, the parents, come to pick up their their families and just ask questions, or invite them to a meeting after school just to talk about something that's happening in the curriculum. And like I said, you may only get three or four. But it's any, any amount is worth it. So any amount of parent engagement is, is a success in my eyes. And you just have to be persistent and opening open and vulnerable. Letting people know that, hey, I don't know anything about this. Can you please help? I've never had anybody say no, some people don't like to come into the classroom, which is, is fine. But I've had people share, handed me their their fancy clothes from, you know, a Pakistan wedding or things like that, that they allowed me to hang up in the classroom. And then they would write something that I would talk about, if they're not comfortable coming into the classroom at that time. But I've never had a negative experience. It's always been one where I've learned something new. And the kids have learned something new and just have to keep at it. That would be what make the first move and don't stop. So Persistence
is key. Yes. Yeah, I think sometimes it's really hard. We do feel vulnerable as teachers, it's really hard to, to kind of act on that and admit that we don't know about this or that or, but so many times we find ourselves teaching trying to teach something that we we realistically aren't the experts on. And if you can get those those experts, where are those artifacts that can help you? I mean, how amazing is that? Right? Yeah. So you've covered a lot of it advice and ideas? Is there anything that you would say to teachers who are looking for a more authentic way of engaging families, but aren't quite sure is there? You know, a specific piece of advice that you'd you'd give them?
Yeah, I would just say, to start small. And I know, it's how you feel after you come out of a workshop, sometime learning something new, where you're like, I already have this working in my classroom already. So I don't want to I feel overwhelmed trying to change something. So pick a subject that you are passionate about. And one that you already feel confident in knowing what the curricular outcomes are, of how you've built community within your classroom. And if it if you reflect and feel like you know, I really haven't built a lot of community this year, just start there, even if it's the end of have almost make yourself vulnerable, but do it, you know, talk to somebody you're comfortable with, and then go to the next step. Okay, I haven't made contact with this person. What am I going to do to do that? A phone call or an invitation to zoom with a class or anything, just to get started and you'll find that year to year you'll be you'll become more and more brave and you'll see the benefits of engaging families more and more in the classroom on different levels. Yeah,
well, and I think what what I found just I'm just taking those first small steps but you know, families are really willing to share so much about what they know about their child and and other things. And I think when we give them that freedom to do that, sometimes they're not sure if they should or you know if it would be of any value. And once we let them know that, yes, we do value that, and yes, you do have this knowledge, it just opens a door for them. Yes, I think I mean, this pandemic has definitely provided us with some, some pretty severe challenges with, you know, getting families in, but perhaps to being able to use those digital tools. Right, everyone has learned might open doors to long distance family members, or yes, you know, so many, so many things, so many opportunities. So I think if we see it as as opportunities instead of, you know, just about the challenges, we we show ourselves something so well, I want to thank you. So very much, Kiersten for, for speaking with me today. And I just know that anyone who listens to this will will get a wealth of knowledge, you've just told me so much more than what I could even have hoped for. It's just amazing. So thank you very much.
Well, thank you very much for inviting me to speak with you. I enjoyed it.
All right. So we're speaking with Brett Rowland, he is a high school senior English teacher in warmen, and also runs the Pathways program at the school. And Brett has done some really unique and authentic family engagement projects. So specifically, Brad, I've heard about your student and family book clubs. Now, before we get into all of that, can you tell me more about your journey toward authentic family engagement up to that point?
Yeah, I mean, what the project really started by taking Debbie pushers class in the summer on an engagement and, and I remember, we would have a few talks because we would hear all these, these great things that people were doing. But a lot of it felt really geared at the elementary level. And so sitting in that class, I think everybody there was primarily, you know, like, early years teachers, so loved a lot of these ideas that I was hearing and thinking about, but then I was also going, like, what would this look like, in a high school classroom, I, you know, the home visit sound great. And, and you know, at the time to my kids were kindergarten grade one, like my own kids. And so like, I was really looking forward to doing that with their teachers. But I also was having trouble picturing myself showing up at, you know, my one grade 12 Kids classroom, especially because we're a big high school, right? So I'll see a kid for a semester, and then probably don't see them again. So it's sort of wondering, like, you know, how could we do this in a way that didn't really feel forced, and it could fit around, around schedules, you know, at the time, too, with, with having two kids on my own litter, getting busy with school and hockey and doing all sorts of things. You know, I know how busy that calendar gets. And I know that it probably only continues to get busier, the older that that students that students get. So I was thinking, you know, I want to be, I want to be mindful of what's going on in in parents lives and parents schedule. So yeah, as I, as I was thinking for, for the assignment, or for the project, hey, like, what's something that I could do that, you know, could think about how busy families and parents were, but also be something that like, you know, maybe, maybe a 1718 year old, wouldn't mind doing this project with their parents? And yeah, then I came up with the parents Student Book Club. I think that's kind of like the first half of you know, you're here, it was an assignment for a university course. But then when I, you know, when I went to go start teaching again in the fall, you know, there's a lot of great moments at pushers class. And I thought, you know, let's, let's try one of these out. So I remember Yeah, I remember sending the email out and sort of saying, like, here's what I want to try. Who's, you know, who's with me? And, yeah, that's kind of the origins of it, I guess.
Yeah. In high school is definitely not the arena where we hear a lot about family engagement. I know as a parent of a high school student, it's sometimes hard for me to know how to be engaged with her when she's got so many teachers and so many classes and I think the idea of the book clubs is just so relevant to what they're doing and senior English anyway, and it's something that's not doesn't feel like an add on, right. A little more authentic. How did you choose the books or did they choose them?
No, I you You know, we had started a, a staff book club a few years ago, our English department was was looking a lot at a penny kettle, and like reading and how that looks, and and really wanting to amp up and celebrate just reading for the sake of you know, of reading and enjoyment and bringing love of, of literature back that was kind of one of our, our ELA goals. And so we decided, hey, let's start a staff book club. And so what we would do is we would pick books, and you know, we'd order like 10 of them, and we would go and read. And then after a few weeks, we'd meet up for, you know, a social get together back when you can do those things, and we'd talk books and but those those, we'd have all these little sets, instead of ordering, like the big classroom sets, we'd have all these little sets of books that we would then go and do, you know, book clubs with our students.
So what do you think the students and the families gained with or have gained with this project?
You know, Lindsay, earlier, you'd said, even as a parent, or somebody that's in high school, kind of wondering, you know, like, how might I get, you know, how might I get involved. And I was thinking, there's, you know, there's families that are there good to, you know, my my kids in high school, and there's other things that aren't school related, that I'm involved with, but there's other parents that are going like, hey, maybe there's something I could do, I'd love something to do like this. And so I thought, like, when making it, I really want to put out there as like, here's an invitation of something that you want to try. And you know, what it's, it's, it's not for, it's not for every group of students, I have, like some classes, you know, maybe 40, or 50% of the parents participate, I've had some that are highest, highest 70 or 80%, of parents that want to participate. But you know, it's pretty, I tried to make it really flexible. Again, that wording of like, it's an invitation to participate. If it doesn't work for you guys, it's it's no problem. I also try and frame it a little bit around. This is kind of your your kids last year before they go off. And it's a really good chance to have that one last thing. And a lot of the parents say it's, it's not even so much the reading of the book, it's, it's having that set time somewhere in the week to sit down with their, you know, with their teen and talk about some, you know, some more mature issues,
sometimes we have a lot of quantity of time, but how much do we really sit down and talk to our, our teens, and literature is such a safe way to to discuss issues, right? Because the things that might be coming up in the book might be quite relevant to things you want to discuss with your teenager, but it's a little bit less personal when it's in a book than when it's in their life, it might be a good way to get into some of those really important discussions with teens,
book clubs seems like something that that people can wrap their heads around quite well with the secondary stuff. But I think back to like, in grade nine, and grade nine, everybody gets to go and do like, take your, you know, follow your parents at workday or take your kid to work day or whatever it's called. Or at least we have that warm. And hi, I don't
know if that's other schools or not, yeah, not here. But yeah,
you know, I wonder about in some schools where, you know, maybe even a smaller school could work better in grade 12, you get to do some type of project with, with a parent. And, you know, that might be one where that's a staff goal for the year. So at the start of the year, you can say, hey, you could do a thing in English, if you aren't, you could do it at home, ech, you could do a math thing with them, you could do a work on a carpet, like, at some point, you know, here's, here's what we're all offering Pick, pick one that works for your family and, and kind of show off where you come from and what your skills are. And so that might be something neat to do someday from, you know, from a staff from entire school perspective, as opposed to just, you know, here's how you tweak the book club thing.
Yeah, yeah. So really meeting families where they're at and trying to engage them in a way that works for them is a theme that I'm hearing from people that I've been talking to and, and I hear that from you, and and I think this project really encompasses that really gives them something that they're familiar with the framework of a book club. Pretty much everyone has heard of that before, but you know, gives them something to something tangible to engage with. Well, Brett, thank you so much for talking with me today. Is there anything more you wanted to say before we, before we end our conversation today?
I think it's just I wouldn't get discouraged at the start. I remember sending out the email to all the parents and I didn't you know, I didn't get one email response. And I remember thinking, oh, yeah, parent engagement. But it was so funny because you know, walking around the classroom that first time and hearing kids kind of go okay, I'm gonna do it with my parents. And then you But and that was year one. And now it's like, I think the word is kind of spread around a bit. And, you know, they're quick to sign up for it. And, you know, the parents get talking to so like somebody just sent me an email from, I think it was the moment Hake was saying, I can't believe you're doing this, I want to do this with my so they're gonna like, ask their teacher if they can do a project like that, or somebody was doing it with the mom was doing it with their team. And the two younger daughters wanted to do one. So they made their own book club to like, kind of mimic them. So I think yeah, like, if your first if your first attempt at it doesn't necessarily go just how you want, you know, even if it's a few parents, you never know, it might start really kind of picking up steam later on.
Small steps, right, small steps at first, and, and don't be afraid as teachers, we want things to be perfect. And that just will not happen. And we just have to keep pushing, keep pressing on
and email the parents near the end. That's, that's always the best to rather than just like, email the parents and find out like, how did it go? Do you have anything that you'd suggest? Because, I mean, that's where I think that's, it really helps make that bond at the end. You know, so it's not just something you gave to them. And and you have that, that little communication piece, and it's great feedback for what you might want to add to it next year.
Wonderful. Wonderful. Well, thank you so much for speaking on this topic tonight. Oh, you bet. All right. In this episode, we have heard from Kirsten Cole black and Brett Rowland about how parental engagement has made its way into their classrooms and practices. They've come to this gradually over a number of years, which is a great lesson for so many teachers. Baby steps do count. every move we make to engage parents in the classroom is a step in the right direction. For Kirsten, it was a visit to the friendship in that helped her be more comfortable speaking with people she may not be familiar with, and inspired her to start to engage with families more often. For Brett, it was sitting in a classroom with elementary teachers wondering how to translate this practice into the high school setting. From projects to home visits, to just having conversations and seeing how families want to engage with their students. These teachers have found unique and fulfilling ways to make parental engagement happen. Students will achieve more success, the more their families are connected with their education and schooling. This is clear in the research, and it is clear from the experiences of these teachers. It is our job as educators to open up the school doors, literally and figuratively for parents and families to step in, and take part in their children's education. We are the ones with the power in that building. And that can be shared between us and families. We can work as a team, we can build collections of artifacts and ideas that bring families in and make them more comfortable in the school setting. I'd like to thank these teachers for sharing their experiences and for giving so many wonderful ideas to other educators who may be wondering how to make this happened. Thanks for listening