Summer 2020 brought to our national attention the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, and the continuing injustices of racism and, in particular, anti-Black racism. It is critical for Family Engagement Lab to affirm and support Black lives and the community beyond taking a moral stand, as combating racism in schools is key to fulfilling our mission of promoting equitable family engagement.
At Family Engagement Lab, a key area of focus for us is ensuring that all families have access to information about what their child is learning in class and how they can help at home. To that end, we are examining our content with a lens toward ensuring its continued applicability for all families and its relevance across race, economic status, and language. In addition to internal edits and regular feedback from educator and family stakeholders, we are enhancing our content through a number of activities, including 1) working closely with district partners (e.g., OUSD’s English Language Learner and Multilingual Achievement team), 2) expanding our alignment with Benchmark’s Adelante curriculum, used in OUSD’s dual language programs, and 3) hiring new content writers with backgrounds and experience that support our diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.
We have also improved collection of race/ethnicity data in student-level data and teacher and parent survey data. We are working with the University of Oregon EC PRISM research group and are using recommendations from the Schusterman Family Foundation’s recent Guide to Diversity Equity and Inclusion in Data Collection to inform our efforts.
In addition to our increased focus on equity of access to learning information and research, we have introduced a section in our monthly Learning Series newsletter called “Meaningful Moments” to share inclusive practices and anti-racism resources each month with our 1,400+ subscribers.
With our continuing emphasis on diversity and inclusion in our hiring practices, team culture, and values, Elisabeth facilitated sessions for our team to develop a Charter to help guide our understanding of how each of us want to feel on the team and how we can support each other (you can read more about this tool from Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence). One value stands out: We want to feel uncomfortable that we still have work to do when it comes to fulfilling our vision of equal opportunity for children of color.
To all of you who work in education, we know you are working day and night right now to figure out how to help our kids feel a sense of security, connectedness, and stability so they are ready to learn this fall.
No matter where you are in the world, this fall will be unusual. Many of the rituals of fall that provide families, students, teachers and school staff an important touchpoint during the start of the school year are going to have to be reimagined. “Back to School Nights,” welcome events, and home visits are being adapted as I type this to limit the spread of COVID-19 and to heal from trauma together, while forging the important new bonds needed between teachers, students, and parents.
We have heard from many families eager to redefine relationships between school and home during the upcoming school year. To support a strong start this fall, we are curating relevant family engagement research and emerging best practices to help school leaders and educators welcome families into a new school year in a living report “Back-to-School 2020: Expert Tips to Support School-Family Partnership in Flexible Learning Environments.” We will continue to add new tips that promote parent-teacher collaboration to support student learning.
We are adding new resources and innovative practices to this document regularly. To contribute to this resource, complete this brief survey.
Through this survey, you can recognize a teacher or administrator who is doing something extraordinary this fall to connect with families. Share their story with us, and we will send them a $10 gift card for the first 20 we receive.
Co-Founder, Family Engagement Lab