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Engage Families in Collaborative Activities

Effective technology leadership promotes the development of a balanced and inclusive technology infrastructure that examines assistive technology (AT), educational technology (EdTech), and information technology (InfoTech) as part of a technology ecosystem. Leadership guides with a collaborative team of diverse stakeholders in the development of a community-wide vision for technology use and create and measure a strategic technology implementation plan as part of a continuous improvement process. Implementation aids professionals and families/caregivers in their knowledge and skills as part of an inclusive technology ecosystem.

Leaders establish opportunities for families to be co-creators in the development of technology programs and services as part of a balanced, inclusive technology ecosystem. Meaningful family involvement is achieved when students, parents, and families are at the center of the district’s technology systems. Involving parents in opportunities to learn about AT and EdTech empowers families and caregivers as a critical part of teaching and learning. Leaders establish opportunities to provide feedback regarding the extent to which families feel engaged and use these data to improve communication and participation.

Improving Technology Implementation through Community Collaboration

Newburgh Enlarged City School District (Newburgh, New York)

Newburgh Enlarged City School District (Newburgh, New York)

Photo by Daniel Case | CC BY-SA 3.0

Newburgh Enlarged City School District is one of the largest districts in New York, with approximately 11,500 students spread across urban, suburban and rural communities. Five years ago, the district received a grant that kicked off an extensive process to overhaul infrastructure to support a 1:1 Chromebook implementation. Thanks to efforts spearheaded by visionary leadership, assistive technology (AT) was specifically included in the district’s technology planning efforts. Further, the concept of an integrated AT and edtech ecosystem has become ingrained in the culture of the district. This culture cultural change led to district-wide educator buy-in of available accessible technology supports such as text-to-speech, that they use with all students, both with and without disabilities.

As part of this commitment to providing technology supports, particularly in reading and writing, the district worked with families to ensure that all students could bring their technology devices home after school. Given that many students do not have access to reliable internet connections at home, the district partnered with community organizations and local stakeholders to improve bandwidth and provide free Wi-Fi access in certain parts of the city. To address remaining technology and bandwidth gaps, the district partnered with the Newburgh Library system to provide free access to a variety of software programs for reading. Through ongoing engagement and partnership with families and the community, Newburgh was able to strengthen their technology initiatives to help ensure that their students had access to learning supports anytime and anywhere.

Resources

Toolkit of Resources for Engaging Families and the Community as Partners in Education (Institute of Education Sciences (IES) and Regional Educational Laboratory At McREL International) 

Partners in Education: A Dual Capacity-Building Framework for Family-School Partnerships (Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL)

Supporting Research

Garcia, M. E., Frunzi, K., Dean, C. B., Flores, N., & Miller, K. B. (2016). Toolkit of Resources for Engaging Families and the Community as Partners in Education. REL 2016-148. Regional Educational Laboratory Pacific.
The toolkit is presented in four parts. It includes information and activities that reflect research-based family involvement approaches associated with student learning. Each part of the toolkit focuses on an aspect of developing strong partnerships between schools and families and between schools and communities to support student learning.

Mapp, K. L., & Kuttner, P. J. (2013). Partners in Education: A Dual Capacity-Building Framework for Family-School Partnerships. SEDL.
Partners in Education: A Dual Capacity-Building Framework for Family–School Partnerships is a publication of SEDL in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education. It presents a new framework for designing family engagement initiatives that build capacity among educators and families to partner with one another around student success.

Stefanski, A., Valli, L., & Jacobson, R. (2016). Beyond Involvement and Engagement: The Role of the Family in School-Community Partnerships. School Community Journal26(2), 135-160.
Research indicates that partnerships between schools and neighborhood communities support student learning, improve schools, and strengthen families and neighborhoods. The article found eight distinct ways in which family roles were envisioned and enacted. This article provides a detailed picture of those roles to guide policies and practices that strengthen the family's role in school-community partnerships.

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