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The Ties That Bind: Building and Strengthening the School-Home-Community Connection for English Language Learners


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Title: The Ties That Bind: Building and Strengthening the School-Home-Community Connection for English Language Learners

The Ties That Bind Building and Strengthening
the School-Home-Community Connection for English
Language Learners
  • Robin Adamopoulos
  • EDUC 591 School in a Diverse Society
    Independent Graduate Study Project
  • Spring, 2004

Challenges to Education in the 21st Century
  • The United States has experienced the largest
    wave of immigration since the last turn of the
  • More than 9 million immigrants entered the U.S.
    between 1991-2000.
  • U.S. Census Data

Growing Population of Non-Native English Speakers
  • According to the U.S. Department of Education
    In 1992, approximately
  • 2.3 million children were living in households
    where English was not a first language.
  • It is estimated that 3 out of every 10 Hispanics
    between the ages of 16 and 24 are without a high
    school credential.

Implications for the Schools
  • In particular, language minority students,
    including immigrants and the U.S.-born children
    of immigrants, may not receive appropriate
    educational services due to a mismatch between
    the languages and cultures of the schools and
    those of their communities.
  • Carolyn Temple Adger (2000)
  • School/Community Partnerships to
  • Support Language Minority Student Success

Benefits of School-Home-Community Partnerships
  • Improved academic achievement
  • Increased language achievement
  • Improved overall school behavior
  • Sustained achievement gains
  • Improved parent-child relationships
  • Gains in parental self-confidence and expertise
  • Improved Home-School relations.

Barriers to Parental Involvement
  • Feelings of low self-worth and alienation from a
    system that does not understand them.
  • Cultural values Parents view the teacher as the
    authority on learning and do not question the
    policies of the school, the teacher, and the
    academic programs. Parents blame themselves for
    their childrens problems instead of seeking
  • Lack of English language skills make it difficult
    to communicate with school and teachers.
  • Lack of trust in the school system English-only
    policies, meeting schedules that are inconvenient
    for working parents.
  • Negative past experiences with school and
    educational environments.

Welcome and Communicate
  • It is incumbent upon schools to create a
    welcoming environment for the parents and
    families of ESOL Students, and also to
    communicate with them in a meaningful way about
    academic programs, services, and their childrens
  • Teachers of English to Speakers of Other
  • TESOL (June, 2000)

How Can We Help?The role of Administrators and
School Personnel
Create a Culture of Caring
  • According to Beck (1995) a definition of a caring
    paradigm involves three activities
  • Empathy --receiving the others perspective.
  • Response responding appropriately to the
    awareness that comes from this reception, and
  • Commitment Remaining committed to others and to
    the relationship.
  • (Casbon,Schirmer and Twiss, 1997)

Collaborative Models of Leadership
  • Horizontal management based on collaboration
    and cooperation works best in multicultural
  • The administrator is in a collaborative,
    consensus-building relationship with teachers,
    staff, community and parents.
  • Collaborative organizations tend to be more
    caring, to affirm diversity, and to be more
    successful in generating literacy among their
    multicultural students.
  • (Casbon, Schirmer and Twiss, 1997)

Practical Adaptations for School Management
  • Welcome multicultural parents by providing for
    their basic needs
  • Vary meeting times to accommodate the schedules
    of working parents.
  • Provide Child Care at meetings and Transportation
    to meetings, if necessary.
  • Provide food and refreshments creates a
    welcoming atmosphere.
  • Provide for sharing times when family members and
    children work together.
  • Consider the entire family. Provide activities
    for extended family to come into the school
    Family Reading Night, International Night,
    Grandparents and Special Friends days, for

  • Develop bilingual resources for parents forms,
    newsletters, school communications.
  • Provide an orientation to the school specifically
    for newcomer parents.
  • Develop an intake process. Ask parents for
    information about their familys educational
    history special talents and abilities they could
    contribute and their weekly scheduletimes that
    they could be available for meetings or volunteer
  • Provide support groups for newcomer parents
    ideally, these groups will be coordinated by
    other immigrant parents who are already
    established in the school and community.

Staff Development
  • Provide translation and interpretation services,
    drawing on the schools population of immigrant
    parents parents helping parents.
  • Train staff specifically on issues of cultural
    sensitivity. Ideal bilingual staff members
    Reality staff that can accommodate the needs of
    non-native speakers in non-judgmental,
    non-threatening ways.
  • RESPECT cultural values and beliefs.

How Can We Help?The role of Teachers
  • TTeachers
  • IInvolving
  • EEveryone
  • In
  • SSchool

  • B is for Background KnowledgeTeachers become
    ethnographers of their students and communities.

  • I is for Initiate, Invite and Inform
  • Initiate -- Contact parents frequently to check
    on their needs. Teachers need to meet more often
    with multicultural parents in face-to-face
    settings. Immigrant parents may not always get
    the information they need from once-a-month PTA
  • InviteAsk the parents to come into the classroom
    to volunteer, and to share their stories,
    recipes, careers, or a special talent.
  • Inform Always keep parents informed of their
    childs progress. In addition communicate with
    parents on instructional goals and objectives and
    special programs of interest to them ESL for
    adults, vocational programs, and for high-school
    aged childrenworkshops on preparation for

  • N is for newer approaches to literacy
  • Immigrant parents are not only reluctant to
    participate in school because of language
    barriers, but also, many immigrants have limited
    experience with formal education and are in need
    of literacy instruction themselves.
  • Family Literacy programs are an essential part of
    developing a love of reading and writing in young
    children from multicultural backgrounds.
  • Family Literacy involves both parents and
    children in the language learning process.

  • D is for Develop
  • Develop relationships with parents and the
    community to support education and literacy.
  • How do we do this?
  • One answer is Family Literacy Programs
  • The Even Start Family Literacy Program is one
    example of such programs that is funded by the
    federal government under Title I legislation.
  • There are many models of Family Literacy
    Programs, but all involve some of the same basic

What is family literacy?
  • Family Literacy is
  • Intergenerational and bi-directional Children
    teaching parents and parents teaching children
    the community teaching each other.

Family Literacy
  • Family Literacy is integrative, communicative
    instruction in all language skills reading,
    writing, listening and speaking. Family Literacy
    programs provide opportunities to exercise all of
    these literacy skills.
  • Reading aloud together
  • Writing and illustrating personal narratives or a
    history of the family.
  • Developing oral language skills through

Family Literacy
  • Family Literacy is multicultural.
  • It embraces diversity and the culture of all
  • It allows students to learn about themselves and
    each other.

Family Literacy
  • Family Literacy is socially-constructed learning
  • Students use authentic materials share from
    their background experiences, and add to their
    learning through interaction with others.
  • The activities are creative, meaningful and fun!
    Students and family members create a meaningful
    product that can be shared with future

Family Literacy
  • Family Literacy is Critical Pedagogy
  • Learners achieve literacy skills which can help
    them to participate in American culture and

How Can We Help?The role of Parents and
Community Based Organizations
We cant do it alone
  • The school needs the support of parents and the
    community in order to function.
  • Parents can organize groups to discuss issues of
    concern to immigrant parents. These groups
    should be led by members of the same
    language/ethnic heritage. Parents helping
    parents models work best.
  • Community-based organizations can provide a
    wealth of resources much needed funding for
    programs bilingual materials and human
    resourcestranslators and interpreters and
    support serviceshomework helpers, mentoring,
    before and after school care, transportation,
    health and social services.

PTA Standards
  • The national organization of the Parent Teacher
    Association (PTA) has recently published
    standards for parent involvement in the schools.
    Available at the PTA website

our fears, our hopes, our aims are one, our
comforts and our cares.Blest Be the Tie That
Binds John Fawcett 1740-1817