Teaching is not simply a one-on-one relationship. A teacher works with the student that is influenced and informed by the families they live with, the community they work with, and the neighborhood they are active with; A teacher should involve, inform, and collaborate with the families and neighborhoods that the students live in. This involvement should inform the educational process, include student cultural identity, and be linked to student achievement and performance.
As a part of my coursework and professional development in teaching I have created a Family Engagement Plan that includes an integration of family stories and community life so that I can know my students and their families better.
Being a community-based teacher is a philosophy and a continual practice that embraced the entire student and their major influences. By following this praxis, teachers can form productive and positive relationships that validate the life of the student both outside and inside the classroom.
To develop my competency and understanding of my student community I met with the Head of School. In doing so, I learned that the majority of students (90%) live in the West Seattle neighborhood, west of Delridge. By interviewing students and the Head of School, I found that the most popular places for students to visit were: Husky Deli, Full Tilt Ice Cream, West Seattle Farmer’s Market, and the Admiral Theatre; other popular locations for students to visit included waterfront parks such as Lincoln Park and Alki Beach.
I took notes of my conversations and consolidated them into part one of my Family Engagement Plan.
I realized and learned that I did not have a strong understanding of the student’s cultural and family identities. For part two of my plan I wanted to create a component that would embrace and include this missing aspect from my understanding. My plan, starting this summer as a part of summer camp, is to pilot a family and community story project that would have student’s bring family and community stories to the stage and integrate them into a performance that would be performed in the community. It would be my hope that the organizations that students identified with would be integrated in one aspect or another of the performance.
I presented my family engagement plan to the Head of School for a pilot program this summer. I have been approved for this work.
It is my hope that future versions of my family engagement plan will be a part of my established curriculum. By implementing a family and community story project early in the year with sixth grade students I will be able to understand the prior history of students along with their present learning environment that they interrelate with outside of school. One last implication of this project would be my ability to integrate meaningful content, that would relate to student culture and family identity, into the remainder of the year’s academic plan.