Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Family and Community Involvement

As a CTE teacher, I have used many strategies to engage parents and community members in two-way, interactive communication focused on significant teaching and learning. In the Spring of 20011, I created my own school website for the CTE courses in which I teach in order to conveniently provide academic information to students and parents. My website uses multimedia to provide parents and students with information about STEM education and explains why it is important to 21st century students. Parents and students can also communicate with me by leaving messages or posting responses to announcements that I make. My website offers online tools and resources that are directly related to STEM education. In addition, I have a specific webpage for each individual course in which I teach. For example, each course webpage offers information such as course resources, documents, files, announcements and an online calendar. This is significant because both parents and students can access important information designed for the specific course to which the student is enrolled. Moreover, parents and students can also understand my use of STEM principles and resources in my class. This is linked to student learning because it empowers students to work at their own pace by keeping up with course work if they are absent, or if they want to advance in the curriculum, and it empowers parents to remain aware of what their students are learning. Moreover, my website provides students with the opportunity for enrichment and exploration from the supplemental resources that are available. 

I establish and maintain an active role in communicating with parents. I believe that parents and teachers share responsibility for creating a working relationship that will help children succeed academically. To monitor my parent communication, I keep a parent communication log, documenting the conversations that I have with the parents of my students, and conversations about my students with other professionals in the school. This is significant because I understand the importance of making personal connections and establishing partnerships with parents and guardians of my students to create a safe and inviting learning environment. Moreover, fostering positive relationships helps me collect information that I can use to ensure that my students are getting their individual needs met. Parent-teacher relationships are linked to student learning because my students are more willing to be engaged and invested in their learning inside and outside of my classroom. For example, one particular student took a family vacation to Florida and visited the Kennedy Space Center to witness and document a spacecraft launch. She took video and pictures and created a PowerPoint to help explain Newton’s Three Laws of Motion in action. When she returned from her family vacation she gave her presentation to the class.

I frequently attend PTA meetings throughout the year in order to stay informed of parental involvement and offer opportunities for parents to volunteer. In September of 2011, I attended the first middle school PTA meeting of the school year. This is significant because I was able to promote and explain volunteer opportunities that are available in my CTE classes this year. This has impacted student learning because several parents became active participants in my CTE classes. For example, lots of parents contributed to this year’s sixth grade project by responding to an online survey, which allowed students to select a problem to solve from a list of over sixty problems that were submitted.

From 2009-2012, I have been the Parents as Educational Partners Program (PEPP) parent liaison for my team of colleagues. I have worked closely with the PTA in order to relay information from parents to my teammates, and to relay information from my teammates to parents. In addition, I work to schedule parent volunteers to help in the school wherever they are needed. This is significant because I facilitate the transfer of information between parents and teachers and help to provide the parents with volunteering opportunities. Stimulating parent communication and involvement impacts student learning and builds parent partnerships by keeping the parents informed and engaged in their child’s education; thereby helping to keep students organized and productive. Since 2011, I have been successfully collaborating with the Falls Church, Business in Education (BIE) committee. I have worked closely with local business owners and community members in order to provide them with opportunities to volunteer in my CTE classes. This is significant because continuing to establish positive relationships with community members maintains their involvement as valued stakeholders in our school district. These relationships are linked to student learning because when community members volunteer their time in school, our students continue to get exposure to different career clusters and make real-world connections. For example, this year I invited community members to serve on a panel by giving helpful feedback to my sixth-grade CTE students as they presented their final project. This impacts student learning because when valued community members volunteer their time and services, our students continue to get exposure to different career clusters and make real-world connections outside of the classroom.

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