Guide Creating Welcoming Schools: A Practical Guide to Home-School Partnerships with Diverse Families

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Log in to Wiley Online Library. Purchase Instant Access. View Preview. Learn more Check out. Through our two-year collaboration, we learned that Programs are implemented; partnerships are developed. Programs are adopted; partnerships are constructed. By their very nature, most programs have steps, elements, or procedures that become static. A program cannot constantly reinvent itself, change with each year, be different in every classroom, and for every teacher-family-child relationship.

Betty, Barbara, and I are European American, middle class, experienced educators who joined in partnership with families in a high-poverty, predominantly African American school in Georgia. To connect home and school literacy learning Betty and Barbara created partnerships with families from first through second grades they got permission for the children to stay together; unfortunately, this is a rarity. Welcome to first grade! Parents have homework first! Please write and tell me about your child. Who could resist such an invitation?

However, he will overcome this with love and attention. Me and Lakendra have no secrets from each other. I can trust my big girl and she can count on me. Teachers and families kept a dialogue going all year in spiral-bound or sewn lab books that the children took home two to three times a week along with books from the classroom libraries. Parents or others in the family sustained a remarkable commitment to read with their children, talk about the books, and write together in the journals.

For example, Lakendra and her mother, Janice, read together every night, and Betty supported these home-reading events, as we see from these excerpts from their journal Shockley et al. Her reading was very good. I mean a book with a few more words. If you think so also.

She can read more difficult books but like everybody, young readers enjoy reading things that are easy for them too. Shockley, In the story of the Halloween Performance, Lakendra seem to have some problems with many of the words. Maybe she get a story with too many difficult words for her right now. But still I enjoyed her reading.

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Thank You. When you get ready to read together each night, you might begin by asking Lakendra—Do you want to read your book to me or do you want me to read to you? Sometimes after you read even a more difficult book she may ask to read it after you.

Creating Welcoming Schools: A Practical Guide to Home-school Partners…

Let her be the leader. One of the most important things about sharing books together is talking about them together. So excited she read them over and over again. And I was so pleased. I also like the setting of this story. Last year we had a visitor from Somalia. He told us all the children make galimotos [cars] out of odds and ends. Shockley et al.

This extended written communication, not about enlisting parents to solve discipline problems or to sign reading logs, established deep relationships. Dennis, a child with many early indicators that he would fail, did not. In May his mother wrote, Dennis read really good I only told him about 4 or 5 words when he finished reading I clapped my hands and gave him a big kiss on the cheek and told him he did great. I was just thinking to myself. If a child has wonderful teacher and wonderful parents that takes up time with him and helps him to read and learn new things he turns out to be a genius.

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What I think my little Dennis will be someday. Betty and Barbara respected both the content and form of whatever family members wrote in the journals. Consequently, many who might not have viewed themselves as writers took great risks not only to write several times a week, but also to contribute to family story books, another way of bringing home cultures to the center of the classroom curriculum.

Not all stories came in right away; this was an even more public risk, writing stories. We believe that Jesus is our lord and savior. Greg wrote about a ride at Disneyland; his aunt wrote about moving from California to Georgia. Barbara wrote a Hanukkah memory. These books became well-read classroom treasures and public celebrations of families and their stories at a book reading and signing party.

They successfully challenged the deficit model of families and children and provided a powerful alternative. Teachers in the original funds of knowledge study group served working class Mexican and Yaqui Indian families. The teachers and professors worked in teams to learn about the home lives of the children and families by spending time there.

Creating Welcoming Schools: A Practical Guide to Home‐School Partnerships with Diverse Families

They created meaningful relationships with families by visiting homes, usually of three children each year, and entering into conversations—not scripted interviews. The conversations centered on three main areas of information, usually gathered in three visits: 1. Routine household activities e. As teacher researchers, they also wrote about their home visits from their notes about what they observed in the neighborhood, the home, and their conversations.

Throughout the year teachers met in study groups to discuss what they learned and to create thematic units of study based on the funds of knowledge they learned about in these home and community visits. They learned that families had a wealth of knowledge about ranching, farming, mining, construction, and repair. Household management acumen included budgeting, childcare, cooking, and repair. Many had knowledge of both contemporary and folk medicine for people as well as animals.

Religious knowledge included rituals, texts especially the Bible , and moral and ethical understandings. Kindergarten teacher Marla Hensley found a wealth of talent on home visits with Alicia, one of her African American students. Jacob also played guitar and keyboard and wrote poetry and songs. Another home visit revealed an African American foster parent skilled in dance; she choreographed the musical on her days off.

From home visits as well as listening and talking with children, Marla enlisted family members as costume makers, stagehands, makeup experts, and bread makers— including Navajo fry bread and tortillas. He rarely went to PTA meetings, finding the tone quite negative. He won. The PTA became more politically active, and Jacob was featured on the evening news. Because one teacher formed a relationship with him and valued his talents, Jacob became a valued member of the school family and one of its most eloquent advocates. They are also resources for their children that the teacher can tap into.

In most of the Mexican and Yaqui families, children were active participants and asked questions that guided their own learning. This information influenced teaching decisions, from determining what kind of homework went home with certain children e. The learning was reciprocal. Home visits are at the heart of forming the kind of relationships that generate a deep understanding of family knowledge.

The PhOLKS group served a diverse student population in local terms, black, Hispanic, white, and international students primarily in low-income urban and rural schools. Our group represented a range of life and teaching experiences: women and men teaching prekindergarten to fifth grade, a media specialist, a teacher of English-language learners ELLs , and two teacher educators. We were African American, Colombian, and European American; Christian and Jewish; originally from the Northeast, Midwest, and deep South; with childhoods from poor to privileged economically and educationally.

With a small grant from the Spencer Foundation, we purchased three 35mm cameras, film, and processing for each classroom. We invited students to take the cameras home and to photograph what was important to them in their homes and neighborhoods. Still, it may help to have a starting point; here is the process, with variations, that we developed. Some teachers brought in their own photographs and invited the children to share some of theirs.

ESL teacher Carmen Urdanivia-English read from her memoir about growing up in Colombia and invited a reporter from a Spanish-language newspaper to show her students ways to document their family and community histories. In addition, three children took the cameras home every three days. Teachers had the film developed quickly, and then asked children to write or dictate stories about their photos. Teachers invited family members to write about the pictures; they contributed detailed descriptions, memories, poetry, letters, and intimate personal stories.

Cyndy Piha expressed what many of us felt. It was like going from house to house.

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We met monthly to learn from, connect with, and re-envision children and family members. We documented how children explored personal, social, and cultural connections, as when Najma taught his classmates about his Muslim religion through pictures of his mosque.

Understanding the Power of Dialogue Power is not a dirty word. It is, however, a word that demands constant interrogation. In any situation, institution, interaction, or relationship, we have to ask: Who has power, who is powerless? Is power used to oppress or liberate?

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Is power patronizing or partnering? Is power in the individual or the alliance? Is power used selflessly or greedily? Is power used to maintain or dismantle unjust social structures? Is power on the table or under the table? We put power on the table as teachers and family members when we engage in dialogue—not just any conversation but genuine dialogue. According to Freire , dialogue is very different from a conversation.