Monday, May 11, 2009

A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words: Using Documentation to Increase Family Involvement

This presentation was from the Burris Lab School at Ball State, the only lab school left in the state. Specifically, they talked about how using the Gallery of Teaching and Learning at the Carnegie Foundation allowed them to give parents an inside view into their children's daily activities. The documentation was done by students in the teacher education program for lessons that they planned and executed.

Renee Huffman and Eva Zygmunt-Fillwalk, the presenters, talked about how the #1 predictor of academic success is family involvement. When families can see what happened at school they are more sensitive, accepting, and affectionate with their children. Students perform and behave better. Teachers report a higher self-esteem, feel more respected, have higher job satisfaction and increased community support when families are involved. Schools which communicate better have a better reputation, more community support, and ultimately better performance.

Renee and Eva suggested using any media you have available to you to document what goes on in your classroom, including notes, tape recorders, video recorders, and cameras. They share things online and provide computers in the library for families that don't have a computer at home, but you can also document things on the walls at school or in newsletters.

I confess to being weak in sharing documentation. I talk with my parents frequently and we schedule conferences for more formal discussion but I don't always get around to sharing all the pictures I take. Perhaps it's related to my storytelling weakness!

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