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I'm glad to be teaching this course, and I'm so glad that you've joined us.
I'm especially excited about this course because it
responds to a longstanding debate about the importance of engaging families
in their children's education.
In 2015, this debate gained national attention
as some researchers claimed that parental involvement made
little difference in improvements in children's learning and development.
What we'll learn in the course is that we now
know that certain types of engagement, those
that really involve a partnership between home and school,
are better suited to improve student outcomes than old-school, more
traditional forms of parental involvement-- for example, when family
members try to help with homework when there's been little
or no communication between home and school
about what that support should look like.
I often get asked, how did you get started
in the area of family engagement?
I became interested in this work when I worked in the admissions office
at Trinity College, my alma mater.
I coordinated the recruitment of a diverse cohort of students
to our campus.
This gave me the opportunity to talk to high school students
from all kinds of backgrounds, the majority of whom
were in the top 10% of their class.
I found myself asking these students about why
they were successful in school, and I kept
hearing over and over again that their families, the adult caretakers
in their lives, were really important.
I found that fascinating.
And I thought, hm, the students are indicating
that if we could get more families engaged in partnerships with schools,
more of them would succeed academically, socially, and emotionally.
After hearing this from the students, I approached school practitioners
about partnering with families.
They weren't as enthusiastic-- not because they lacked the desire
to build partnerships, but because they were
perplexed about how to make it happen.
I spoke with a mentor of mine, and he thought
that if I really wanted to have an impact on this field,
to study it deeply would be the way to go.
And so I did, and that's what started me on this journey.
So now I'd like to take you on this journey
about exploring why and how we cultivate these partnerships that support student
learning and school improvement.
Now, sometimes practitioners say to me, Dr. Mapp, you know how busy I am.
Why should I make the time to take a course like this?
Can't you just tell me the top three things to do that engage families
and I'll just go off and do them?
I wish it were that simple.
I think we all know that it's hard to be proficient at something
unless we understand the fundamentals.
In this course, we'll expose you to the research--
not just about the impact of engaging families on student, school, and adult
outcomes, but what we now know about promising practices and strategies.
We'll speak with researchers about their past and current results,
and hear directly from educators and families about their experiences.
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