We had our November meeting on zoom - the first in a while! - and we remembered how convenient the format can be for bringing in folks who can’t spend the time away from their programs. As much as we love the in-person settings, we are hoping the mix of the two allows all of you the best chance to be part of the MSN and ESON networks.
Our topic this month was Family Engagement (see slide deck here!), particularly these questions:
We kicked off the conversation with a poll to ask folks where they spend their energy and time when it comes to family engagement:
We also shared some flashbacks to what we talked about last year at this time (particularly the tensions that come up when building new connections with middle schoolers) - see the slide deck for those flashbacks (and other info shared in the meeting).
Our connection groups gave folks a quick time to talk about specific topics as we started off the meeting: one group talked about how to discuss world events with kids and families, another talked everything Halloween (favorite/least favorite/best costume/program celebrations) and a third group was looking for an update on the CPS Excel strategic tutoring initiative, which we all heard during announcements.
Take a look at the other community announcements below:
In one group, focused on problem-solving specific situations in K-5 programs, the conversation centered on communicating with immigrant families. Tagasech Wabeto, who works for the Commission on Immigrant Rights and Citizenship, said many people don't check their email regularly because they forget their credentials or struggle with the login process. To improve communication, she suggests text messages. Translated messages can be helpful but if translation is not available, sending a text in English is better than an email. Another tip is to send messages in a child's backpack. Using Google Voice, which combines text and email features, makes it easier to access missed calls and messages in one place. For group messaging that doesn't require a reply, Remind is a good option. Finally, the C.E.T and C.D.D outreach workers can assist with distributing flyers and translations.
In another group (for 6-8th grade programs), we shared our own stories of how we learned to engage with families early in our own careers - and although some people had some formal ‘training’ the overall sense was that most of us learned by trial and error and by watching others and their interactions with families. We talked about how to translate that into building capacity for younger staff - creating opportunities for people to listen in on phone calls, intentionally model types of interactions or push newer staff to have the interactions rather than defer to directors. One person talked about the clarity and energy that came from having an outside consultant/coach come in and help the program staff create a Family Engagement plan, complete with goals, strategy, and events for the year - another key way to get everyone on board and ready to engage families as partners.
As part of our closing, we asked folks “What’s one thing you are leaving here wanting to try/do? Or what conversation would you want to have with the Family Liaisons/school staff at the Dec 6th gathering?”
Here are some responses:
Our next meeting on Dec 6th is a joint meeting (in person at the Foundry) including not just programs in MSN, and ESON, but also the CPS Family Liaisons, Upper School Guidance Counselors, and OST Program folks serving the high school community (in Reaching All Youth). Remember to RSVP for this meeting (which isn’t usually required for our other meetings) - because we want to give people tools for networking and talking about shared young people, we need to know who will be there! Click here to RSVP!
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.