CONNECT Module 4

by Nancy Grausam

Using Module 4 Family-Professional Partnerships to
Enhance Students’ Understanding of Families and the
NAEYC Professional Preparation Standards

Nancy Grausam from the Pennsylvania College of Technology discusses how
she is currently using Module 4 and shares about the relevance and usefulness
of the module for her and her learners.

During CONNECT’s February Webinar presentation, I shared ways that Module 1: Embedded Interventions was infused in four courses within our NAEYC-accredited  Early Childhood Education Associate Degree Program.  What I did not share was my feedback during CONNECT’s Module 1 pilot study interview. The interviewer probably heard only about 5 minutes about Module 1 and then was subjected to 20 minutes of coaxing, pleading, reasoning, begging for the CONNECT team to develop a family module! It’s here now and I’ve found it to be really easy to integrate and use. Be sure to check out the activity guides on the instructor dashboards* (available in the instructor community), as those really helped me facilitate the use of the module.

Module 4 focuses on practices related to building trusting family-professional partnerships when working with families of young children. Understanding all families, engaging in respectful relationships and involving them in their children’s learning are concepts that are directly linked to the NAEYC accreditation standards and best practices.  The activities in the Family-Professional Partnerships Module also provide some of our “learning opportunities” to support the NAEYC accreditation key assessments*.

This module beautifully illustrates “reframing” a fundamental principle to understanding characteristics of children and families.  Whether it is the dilemma videos*  depicting the teacher’s and the parent’s views on the same issue in Step 1 or the experience-based knowledge* section in Step 3 where parents like Rosalie Fajardo share their perspectives on working in partnerships with professionals, students are able to see authentic characteristics throughout the module. Since using the module, I now begin my classes with a short “reframing” activity and that has helped students to more easily identify family strengths.

In this same course, a panel of family members of children with a disability visited and discussed both the challenges and the joys of parenting their child.  Afterwards, students conducted an individual interview with a family in their community, and later shared their reflections in a paper.  When asked to describe what was learned about building reciprocal relationships with families, a student wrote, “I learned not to be so judgmental and that I have to earn the respect of the family so that we can work in an equal partnership”. However, that same student later writes, “How does one actually do that?”. This is when the demonstration videos* of the practice in Step 3 come in. I’ll be using the three video demonstrations and accompanying activities where students identify beginning, middle and firm practice examples of how to build relationships with families. I’ll keep you posted on how this goes.

About the Author: Nancy Grausam has been a faculty member at Pennsylvania College of Technology for the past 18 years. She has also taught young children with and without disabilities and directed a preschool program. She is actively involved in the field and is currently serving as a Commissioner, and Early Age Advisory Committee member, for the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools’ Commission on Elementary Schools. Nancy was the Past-President of PennAEYC in 2004 and has assisted with the development and marketing of Keystone Stars, Pennsylvania's Quality Initiative.

COMMUNITY QUESTIONS

  • How have you engaged students to learn effective practices for building relationships with families?
  • How have you used Module 4: Family-Professional Partnerships?

Comments

Embedding Module 4 in Course

Hi Everyone,
I have been embedding both Module 1 and Module 4 in my course, Introduction to Special Education. Most of my students are traditional, (recent high school graduates)and on a teacher education path. Embedding this work is made somewhat easier because we use the textbook Exceptional Lives by Turnbull, Turnbull, and Wehmeyer which has connections to these modules built within the text - great! I have found role playing activities focusing on specific communication strategies as well as family perspectives to be particularly effective. In module 4 the students particularly connected to the videos that shared both the teacher and parent perspective in the child care setting. Many students commented how they would not have understood the family perspective in the same way had they not heard it from the father in contrast to the teacher. We had a good discussion about the various challenges that face parents, the difference in priorities, and the importance in finding common ground around the issues and concerns of both the family and school perspective. I think the Module 4 materials are very helpful in providing broader awareness and understanding as well as creating opportunities for application and reinforcement.

Embedding Module 4 in Course

The Module 4 vignettes seem to one of the most meaningful activities with pre-service teachers. I have used the Learning through Observation DVD (published by Zero to Three)in the past. This is a series of five video vignettes depicting family and early intervention provider interactions. The focus, like the module, is on building relationships. The CONNECT Module 4 vignettes are great to use after the DVD because they depict BOTH perspectives. Next, after viewing one of DVD vignettes, I'll divide my class in half, and ask one group to write from a provider's perspective and the other from the parent's perspective (as done in the CONNECT module with Aaron and China).

Embedding Module 4 in Course

This module has been rich in experiences for my students in Infant and Toddler Caregiving. Activities, videos, and reflections have been built into our coursework. The focus on families through the "respect" model comes to life with worksheets (usually I am not a fan of the worksheets available for students but these are meaningful and focused) and the video segments. I have followed the lead of dividing the class in half for the DVD reflections from the two main perspectives - very powerful.

Embedding Module 4 in Course

I am a graduate student as well as a child care provider. As a student we have been instructed to participate in a community of practice so in a round about way I am considering this as part of my course work. Module 4 has provided me with a tremendous resource as a student and a caregiver. As a caregiver the begining, middle and firm ground conversation are something that I can easily incorporate into my relationship with my families. It is so evident that if the respect for the family is present in the relationship then when difficult situations arise regarding their children families they may be less likely to feel that their parenting skills are being attacked. The experiance based knowledge examples really grounded the concept of family-professional partnerships through the video clips of both parents and professionals who have walked this path. This is a format that I can share with my coworkers.

Embedding Module 4 in Course

As a parent it is exciting to see how this module is changing the way students think about families. Many years ago I co-taught an education course with Dr. Mary McEvoy and to this day I still run into professionals who had taken that class and they express how much more enriching it was to hear the family perspective. As a member of the 2011 Inclusion Institute planning team,I am excited at the opportunity to moderate a panel of families who will discuss their experiences with inclusion and lessons they learned along the way. i hope this will prove helpful to the audience as well as serve as motivation as they hear how inclusive experiences benefitted these families. I think the greatest gift an instructor can give a student is the ability to learn how to see the family perspective and avoid judging them due to their own personal biases.

Embedding Module 4 in Course

Robin, I am delighted to know that you are using Exceptional Lives and that your students realized how important it is to "stand in the father's shoes" and to hear about his life from his perspective. It makes me very happy to hear that your discussion focused on "finding common ground around the issues and concerns of both the family and school perspectives." As we are able to find common ground with parents, it is far more likely that we can implement the partnership principles that lead to trust. Good for you for your relevant instruction and good for your students in learning practices that will serve them well for years to come.

Embedding Module 4 in Course

Hi Robin,
My students too seemed to appreciate the two perspectives (teacher and parent) within the module. Although they likely closely identified with the teacher initially, upon watching the parent, they begin to take on a different perspective and really consider where the two of them could come together... after all, they both ultimately want what is best for the child.
Also, I very much appreciate the behaviors in the checklist handout used in the module that describes ways to communicate and work with families more effectively from the beginning ground, middle ground and moving into more of the firm ground with more increasingly complexity. For me, that handout is FABULOUS to really have students reflect on very specific strategies to incorporate within their communication with families including some of the "harder to discuss" matters that may be happening. Great resource and a great way to have students to practice using it with the various video clips focusing on the three levels!

Extending the Learning

Hi Nancy, Embedding the modules in your existing course, and coupling it with practica and invited guests...wow...I wish I had you as a professor!
I wanted to share something we heard on one of our instructor webinar calls. Some faculty mentioned drawing in parent examples from new, web-based sources, including parent blogs.
Our very own Christine Chronicles was one example mentioned ( http://community.fpg.unc.edu/discussions/discussions/christines-chronicles ); almost makes me wish there was a google-like blog search engine for faculty.

Extending the Learning

Parent blogs...hmm...available, authentic and, by nature, they reflect so many different cultures and perspectives. Thanks, Jonathan, for suggesting the use of this resource. In the past, (with parental permission, of course) my students have subscribed to some of the pediatric hospital "Care Pages." They are written by family members who have children with multiple disabilites, often including chronic illnesses. Because of HIPPA, this was much more difficult to arrange. I like your idea!
Let's hear more about the ways others, too, have involved families in their courses.

My heart is singing!

Nancy, my heart is singing--can you hear it all the way from the Heartland of Kansas to your faculty office in Pennsylvania?? The singing is because your student "NAILED IT" in learning not to be so judgmental, to recognize that respect must be earned, and to commit to the goal of an equal partnership. I hope you will pass along to that student that she or he captured the essence of partnership and the essence of CONNECT's module 4.
You were wise as an instructor to enable your students to learn firsthand from a parent panel and to then have the individual experience of interviewing a parent. These experiences will richly supplement the module in affirming to your students the uniqueness of each family and the opportunity to get to know each one on an individual basis in terms of their family story. The next time a parent panel comes to your class, I encourage you to consider videotaping it (of course, with the parents' consent) so that it can be a handy resource for the future.
Please share your impressions of the Step 3 videos. Also I encourage you to share the audio of Dr Beth Harry with your students. Dr. Harry has wisdom galore when it comes to earning the respect of families from diverse backgrounds.
Looking forward to your future postings.

My heart is singing!

Our hearts were singing, too, in Pennsylvania! We thank you for your kind words! I Although I've shared your many accomplishments with my students, they will still continue to remember you as "Jay's mother" from Module 1. In one brief video, they gained a greater understanding of parental advocacy: parents who advocate do so out of love for their children and a belief that it is the "right" thing to do. It's a great step in building relationships...replacing fear and feeling threatened with respect.

Beth Harry

Hi Ann,
Thanks so much for mentioning Beth Harry's audio clip (short and length and chock full of wisdom)in the Family-Professional Partnership module. For those who might not know about Dr. Harry's work, here is a link to learn more. Her scholarly contributions as a researcher and professor and perspectives as a parent are widely known and respected in the field of special education. She also has written a wonderful new memoir that provides insights into family professional relationships.
http://www.nectac.org/~meetings/inclusionmtg2011/mtgprogram.asp

Beth Harry

Many thanks to Ann and Pam for their kind words about my work! I know I've learned as much from their work as they have from mine!
I'm looking forward tremendously to the opportunity to address the Inclusion Insitute in May. I hope to make a link between what I learned from my own personal experience as a parent and what I've learned since through my studies and participation in research projects with a wide range of colleagues. I think that linking the two experiences is wonderfully valuable!
By the way, Rud Turnbull (Ann's husband) and I will be presenting at CEC in April on exactly that topic: the title of our session is "A long and winding road: From parent to professional".The session will be part of a day-long strand on families, titled, "Universality and culture in the family experience: Starting with the heart". I hope to see some of you readers there!

family professional partnership

My area of expertise is in the family part of the partnership. In using module 4 with parents I have found that the two sides of the collaboration are able to understand each other. Communication is a two way street. Does anyone else have experience with using Module 4 with parents?

family professional partnership

It's likely that many of you have had the experience of teaching the functional skill of "turn-taking" with children. Sandra, you've put a new perspective on "turn-taking!" From a family perspective, building relationships with teachers is challenging, too! Using the module with families is equally as important and it's a great idea. You're right...it is a two-way street. I recently shared Handout 4.7 The Family-Professional Partnership with my students. It's an example of a survey where families indicate their level of satisfaction with their teacher.
My student's didn't comment about the idea of families rating teacher satisfaction, but I've since given it a lot of thought. Have you used that survey with your families? In the next few weeks, I'll be asking students to generate examples of specific actions they can take to implement each survey item. Thanks, Sandra, and hope to hear more from those using Module 4 with families.

Engaging Students

The module has been supportive of the goal of assisting students in understanding, appreciating, and respecting relationships with families. A key use for me is in the vignettes. I have revised the order of some of my classroom and online activities due to the module. The module is a good stand alone piece but it also provides me the fleibility to take and use what I need for a given class segment.

Engaging Students

My students just finished using some of the vignettes and you are right, Elizabeth, using them to supplement course content was well received!

Module 4: EDU 284

Hello everyone! I am happy to report that we are moving right along with field testing module 4 in our EDU 284: Early Childhood Capstone Practicum course. This is typically the final course in our program that leads to the AAS degree in ECE. It only contains one hour of lecture time per week and the remaining 9 hours of lab time are conducted out in the child development centers and schools where students are essentially completing a student teaching type of practical experience. At the end of this course they have spent 144 focused hours in a classroom with young children under the supervision and guidance of an educated and experienced on-site mentor and the college faculty's guidance. We have essentially taken the module and broken it up into 16 weeks, so basically we are having students complete a small portion of the module each week. By the end of the semester, the students will have completed the module in full.
One of the things that we are most enjoying about the module is the fact that the design is set up as such that it is very straight forward and often doesn't need a lot of additional explanations or even discussions to get the main points and learning across. We can tell this by the activities that the students are turning in. They get it! This is really a relief for us as instructors as we don't have a lot of "face time" (with only the 1 lecture hour per week) to discuss everything in depth the way we wish that we could. There is always so much to talk about and discuss in this particular course.
We spend much of our lecture hour together focusing particularly on an in-depth approach and utilization of the NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct. This has been a nice companion to this particular CONNECT module as well. Since many conflicts and ethical dilemmas revolve around partnerships with families and the community, these two seem to compliment each other nicely. In addition, I have noticed that the decision making process outlined in CONNECT also similarly mirrors the suggestive use of the code of ethics in solving dilemmas and ethical issues.
For the most part, we are in general completing the module "as is" without a lot of additional assignments, although we have thrown in a few additional ones in there. I have created a list of "CONNECT suggestions/thoughts" as we move along of possible ways to tweak and/or clarify and areas where my students have struggled a bit or asked a lot of questions because they needed further clarification.
I too am SO excited that this module is on family partnerships and so glad that some of you had the foresight to suggest such a topic for a module! We too are working on NAEYC associate degree accreditation and could see how this module is a wonderful learning opportunity for some of those standards and key elements related to families and community partnerships!

Module 4: EDU 284

Erin, what an interesting idea to use the Module 4 activities weekly as a way to integrate the NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct. Although the module content is structured, it is versatile enough to be applied many different ways. I'd love to hear your thoughts about a few of the activities you have used and specifically where you think they align with the NAEYC Standards Chart (see the link above). The "as is" use of the module (distributed over 16 weeks) may encourage new module users to just "jump in" and try a section. Thanks, Erin, for sharing your great ideas!

Module 4: EDU 284

Hi Nancy,
Thanks for your comments. I am not really incorporating the Ethical Code work into the modules specifically, but see a definite connection in the process that the students go through when solving ethical dilemmas and the decision making process outlined in the way the CONNECT modules are set up.
We are trying to teach the students how to take a dilemma that they face when working with children, families, colleagues or the community and then research the code to determine potential directions and guidance that they can obtain from that process in order to make a decision on how to respond to the situation. This is very similar to the process that CONNECT takes us on in making informed decisions and using professional resources!
Thanks,
ERIN :-)

embedding module into course

Thanks Nancy for sharing the way you built the demonstrations into an instructional sequence. I loved the student quotes. Remind me...which course is this? Please do keep us posted on what happens next.
pam

embedding module into course

I've embedded Module 1 in a variety of courses, but Module 4 is being used in EDU 230 Young Children with Special Needs. The course content focuses on children with disabilties(birth to age eight) and their families. Typically, Pam, students take this course in their final semester of the AAS Early Childhood Education program.

glad to get feedback

Nancy,
I am very glad to hear about your use of Module 4. I am interested in your use of the reframing activity at the beginning of each class. Please tell us more about how you do this. I am also hoping the videos in Step 3 will help answer your student's question of "how." I look forward to future posts to know how the module is working.
We really appreciate your posting.

glad to get feedback

I have found that pre-service students often have difficulty taking a perspective that is different from their own. The "reframing" activity asks them to do just that. A focus statement is displayed and they are asked to articulate possible explanations. Here's one: Paul's mother takes "vacation time" to deliver the same fast food breakfast daily to his early care and education setting. Students begin the activity with explanations that imply he is spoiled or that the parent is unable to set limits. Then, they are asked to identify something positive about the parent's actions (she's dependable, she shows him that his needs are important). This transitions easily into identifying the resources the family brings to the partnership. I've seen increased sensitivity to other's situations and less judgmental comments. One student finally asked, "Could this be all about food issues with children with autism and he just recently enrolled there"? The beauty of this activity lies in the process, as there is no one explanation! Thanks, Ann, for asking about the reframing activities and, also, for your suggestion to use Video 3. We'll be doing that after Spring break...looking forward to trying that section of Module 4.

reframing activity

Nancy,
I love the use of vignettes for the reframing activity. I've done a similar activity ("Cultural Reframing Exercise") using a list of statements such as "They spend money foolishly" or "They are lazy" or "They are never on time" to help students practice stepping outside of their culture to rethink their judgments of others. The vignettes bring this activity even closer to interactions with families around real events. I think I got the statements for the cultural reframing activity many years ago from Cherie Takemoto (a consultant to the module) and her colleagues. When we complete our field testing of Module 4, it will be helpful to get ideas from you and others about additional activities we might add for instructors to use with the module. Thanks Nancy for sharing these ideas. Keep 'em coming as you continue to use the module.
Do others out there have ideas about activities that they have used with module 4?

reframing activity

Pam and Nancy,
I am going to try the reframing activity in my practicum class. It will be attached to module 4. Any suggestion on how to present the activity worksheet that Pam has provided?
Lisa

reframing activity

Hi lisa,
It has been awhile since I have used it but as I remember, I first asked students to reflect on each statement and write a reframing statement that was respectful and sensitive to value and cultural differences (individual reflection and writing). Then I asked students to pair and share their reframing statements (small group sharing and feedback). Depending upon the amount of time, I might have assigned each pair a different statement to pair and share on OR might have asked each individual in a pair to share the statement which was hardest for them to reframe. That led to large group discussion with nominations for exemplar statements or sharing about difficulties engaging in the activity, etc. It always led to some "ah ha" moments for students when they got to hear from each other. That is what I remember. Others have ideas?

reframing activity

Thanks. Going to use it tonight. Will let you know.
Lisa

Reframing activity and module 4

Wow... the reframing activity was powerful. We started with the first six sentences and the students completed them independently. There was some confusion but we were able to work through it. We shared with partners and then the large group. The next stop was looking at the dilemma in module 4. Powerful... They got it. We then went to Ann's piece and it seemed to hit home on how to gain trust with parents. Going to work on it again next week. Thanks.. It did challenge my students.
Lisa

reframing activity

I too like to use re-framing activities in the classes that I teach. Not only do I think this does provide an opportunity to take on another perspective and not always to "jump" to conclusions, but I also find it is a great way to help my students learn how to phrase and word their ideas in a way that is more sensitive and often more professional. I often find in my classes that students have difficulties articulating the rationale behind why they do what they do and doing so in a way that would come across as professional. Re-framing activities are really "win-win" activities for cultural sensitivity and helping us all work on better articulating a situation too!