Voices From the Field: Culturally Responsive Family Engagement
As we step into a new era of education with all of its COVID-19-related challenges, school-family partnerships are even more critical to children’s educational and social–emotional development. And you can’t build strong partnerships with families without taking a culturally responsive approach.
In a recent webinar, Voices From the Field: Culturally Responsive Family Engagement , hosted by Emily Roden, ReadyRosie founder and president, we invited two special guests to share their perspective on effective approaches they’ve seen in their research and in their program during the pandemic and beyond.
At the Culture and Technology Lab of Georgia Tech, Marisol focuses on the network of Hispanic immigrant parents as a case study to illuminate how to enhance the information flow of other immigrants’ networks. She works particularly towards an assets-based approach to design; that is, one that recognizes the talents, skills, social capital, and resources of individuals and groups, and, through participatory design, envisions ways to leverage those assets in the design of new technologies.
Marisol shared that during this time of remote learning she’s seen “many teachers, and especially the school staff, strengthen family engagement by resorting to aspects of the physical world. In this time of COVID-19, there has been a strong tendency to do everything online (for obvious reasons), or to rely on others to do work for us (e.g., grocery shopping). However, there are many things that we can still do physically, and when it comes to gaining or maintaining family’s trust with schools, it is important to do so.”
Being a researcher doesn’t stop Marisol from reflecting on her own experience of parenting during the pandemic: “What the teachers at my kids’ school did was important for me to see a clearer path and stop feeling so overwhelmed.” Her children’s teachers shared videos the routines they used to do at school with her children, such as the songs they sing, the counting of the days of the month, checking the weather, and so on. The content was so specific to her child’s experience in the classroom that it helped her to “…realize the strong connection my children already share with the teacher. These teachers love and care so much for my children that I can trust they will help me and my family when I need it.”
Julia Childs has been committed to social change, anti-bias, and multi-cultural practices for over 25 years. She has been in the early care and education field for 25 years, working with families and children ages 0-12 in a variety of settings and positions, from classroom teacher to program director.
Before the pandemic, Julia was passionate about taking family engagement to the next level through authentic engagement and things haven’t changed. She believes that “taking the time to examine the diverse cultures, life experiences, attitudes, and belief systems of children, families, staff and ourselves is necessary to make meaningful connections.”
A former classroom teacher and educational consultant, Emily Roden has spent her entire professional career focused on supporting outcomes for children. Recognizing a gap in current research-based tools to partner with families in schools, Emily founded ReadyRosie, a comprehensive family engagement system co-created with families and educators.
Many educators have reflected on how school closures caused by COVID-19 have amplified the need for a strong partnership between school and home and ReadyRosie has responded to those challenges with meaningful ways to support families during the upcoming summer months and through the transition to the new school year . During the webinar, Emily will share about the commitment ReadyRosie has to culturally responsive family engagement: “It’s been a priority since day one to build into both our process and our platform an approach that allows us to be accessible and responsive to diverse communities.”