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Photo credit: Ben Konfrst

Engaging Families As Partners in Equity Work

by Elizabeth Kleinrock

1. Try to understand family concerns

When we engage with families we can try to understand and address some of their concerns. I recently asked several families to share their experiences, thoughts, and concerns on social justice topics being covered in the classroom. Here’s what two families shared with me:

2. Give families a heads-up, and follow up with support

Families do not like being blindsided, especially when it comes to their children. Before starting a unit that could be considered “divisive,” I alert families to upcoming lessons or conversations and then follow up to let them know how things went. (This is not the same as asking for permission, which implies that discussing inclusivity and difference is wrong.) For example, before the student walkout following the Parkland School shooting, I sent the following note so families knew the plan for the day and what their kids could expect when they arrived in the morning:

3. Give families the tools to continue school conversations at home.

Every year, I create a private Facebook group for families in my classroom (you may have a class blog or school website). In this group, I repost school communications, photos of anchor charts, student work, parts of lessons and answer any questions that come up. I try to post at least once a day, so family members have conversation starters at home. For families who don’t use social media, I send a separate email or letter with a few sentences letting them know what we discussed and how their child contributed. In our weekly newsletter, I also offer resources to support conversations at home.

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Elizabeth Kleinrock

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