Preparing Kentucky Educators for Partnership BEFORE they Enter the Classroom

By Brooke Gill, Senior Director of Family Engagement Practice and Policy

Dr. Sonja Yow, Professor in the College of Education and Applied Human Sciences at Eastern Kentucky University, asked this of her preservice teachers last semester: “As you approach your final semester of school, what is the number one area you still feel least prepared and presents the biggest challenge for you?” Some might expect answers like individualizing learning, student mental health, writing lesson plans, or navigating in-school environments. However, the overwhelming response… (drum roll)… “Working with families.”

“Research points to family and community engagement as one of the most important predictors of student and life success. Yet, research consistently shows that educators have limited opportunities to learn and practice family and community engagement during their preparation and throughout their careers.” –National Association for Families Schools and Community Engagement (NAFSCE) 2022

In the fall of 2022, the KY Collaborative for Families Schools issued a survey to all Kentucky educator preparation programs and found that 74% of preservice programs would improve family engagement components if they were given the tools and resources. However, only 22% of respondents offer a standalone course in family and community partnership best practices. The 2022 Survey Findings Report also revealed the number one challenge is too many other required courses and standards to meet.

Brooke Gill, Senior Director of Family Engagement Practice and Policy

With funding from NAFSCE, we can respond to these national and state survey findings by developing innovative approaches to stronger family partnership coursework and field experiences for preservice teachers.

This project runs now through June 2023 and will be co-led by Dr. Edna Schack, Prichard Committee Member and Professor Emeritus at Morehead State University. Families will serve as advisors in the development of a series of seminars and field experiences for Kentucky preservice teachers and faculty in partnership with Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) and Madison County Schools, and Morehead State University (MSU) and Rowan County Schools. Corbin Independent and Menifee County Schools will also serve as field sites for prospective teachers. The conclusion and call to action for all Kentucky educator preparation programs will take place in June at the Kentucky Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (KACTE) annual conference. Kentucky will also join a national community of practice with grantees from the other seven states and NAFSCE researchers.

As result of this work, we hope more Kentucky preservice programs have tools and resources for equipping our rising educators with intentional, high-impact family partnership strategies. Teachers must enter the classroom with a desire to partner with families and the confidence to make the first move in developing those strong and authentic relationships.

We would love support and feedback on our approach to this new and innovative work. Please reach out to learn more!

Author

Brooke joined the staff in April 2019. Previously, she served as the Social and Emotional Consultant for the Division of Maternal and Child Health where she was responsible for designing, leading and implementing statewide family engagement and parent education programs. She is the primary author and developer of Connect the Dots: Addressing Challenging Behaviors of Young Children and was instrumental in the launching and statewide expansion of Kentucky Strengthening Families. Brooke is a graduate of Murray State University and holds a MPA from Northern Kentucky University with a certificate in Non-Profit Management.

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