If you know me well, you'd know how much I advocate for family engagement and family support to ensure student success. Ever since I started working for our school system I've organized ESL family nights to provide educational interventions aimed at promoting student success.
One reason why I feel strongly about family engagement is that it is something I felt I didn't have when attending school in the US.
Another reason was and still is because of the vast demands our schools have of our students and family support to ensure student academic success.
Just last week I thought about starting a blog in Spanish to provide "adequate" support and strategies that Latinxs parents and readers can use to utilize to support students academic success.
Though my intentions are not bad - as a matter fact, I have great intentions to support families - I started thinking about the core of my intentions. You see, I began these family meeting with our ESL families because I questioned or perhaps devalued ESL families' competence to support their children at home. I know this sounds wrong - and it is! However, I need to be honest with myself and the families I serve; and understanding the reason why I do what I do is imperative.
"As teacher and school leaders we have a responsibility to shake out the notion of what traditional parent engagement looks like. We need to be creative and persistent". - Allison Rookman
There are two books I read recently that helped me see family engagement through a different lens.
Reading these two novels made me think of a book I read a few years ago while getting my graduate ESL degree. Con Respeto by Guadalupe Váldes is a study that brings to life the everyday worlds of 10 newly arrived immigrant Mexican families. The core of this book and the two novels I mentioned above is to showcase immigrants' family life as a great resource.
As an educator, I see my colleagues and school systems well-meaning intentions in creating and providing educational interventions aimed at promoting school success based on teacher knowledge and based on school context - but not based on parent knowledge.
A New Lens
You see, instead of looking at our families' childrearing styles as a deficit, we can start by changing the way we look at our ESL families' parental knowledge.
From now on I want to make sure my families are being honored for who they are. My teacher knowledge must increase in cultural understanding to be able to embrace and maintain a comfortable environment for my ESL families and my students.
The support and tools I will be presenting my ESL parents from now on, will NOT be with the idea of changing who they are or devaluing their family support.
My ideas and tools will now be to provide parents with the tools they need to navigate the standard and expectation our schools in the US hold.
My ultimate intention, as well as our ESL families' intention, is to support our students in becoming successful adults, who although they find themselves between two words, may they be empowered to be the best they can be to represent their two worlds.
I would love to know your thoughts on this topic! Please share your comments and lets continue learning together.
Thank you for reading!