November 15, 2022 | KY-SPIN

[00:00:00] Rhonda Logsdon: Welcome everyone. Thank you all so much for joining us. Um, we are so thrilled to have you all. It’s one of our, uh, celebrations for family engagement. Um, and we’re gonna kind of go over some special considerations and tips for schools today. Please feel free if you have any questions or use ...

[00:00:00] Rhonda Logsdon: Welcome everyone. Thank you all so much for joining us. Um, we are so thrilled to have you all. It’s one of our, uh, celebrations for family engagement. Um, and we’re gonna kind of go over some special considerations and tips for schools today. Please feel free if you have any questions or use the, uh, the question box, uh, the chat.

[00:00:23] I’ve got some wonderful help on here with me today. Um, if there’re any questions you have, if you’re having technical difficulty, uh, we will try to help you, uh, as we go. We want this to be very interactive, so please feel free to chime in in the chat, um, as we kind of step through this. And also we do ask grace.

[00:00:44] We are- we do a lot of remote work, so if you happen to hear background noise or, um, you know, my four-legged baby girls may decide to chime in and tell you how they’re feeling on family engagement, too. So, um, and [00:01:00] again, with our, um, Internet and uh, some of us live in the middle of nowhere. So, um, I just want, uh, everyone, if you’ll just give us grace as we go through this, but I’m so excited for us to kind of go through this together.

[00:01:16] Just to kinda tell you a little bit about Kentucky SPIN if you’re not familiar, we are Kentucky Special Parent Involvement Network. We are family-driven, a nonprofit 5 0 1 (c)(3) statewide. Um, we are families helping families.

[00:01:32] Um, I am Rhonda Logsdon and I am- three of my siblings have disabilities from the seen to the unseen. I’m a proud foster adoptive mom to the greatest gift of my life. We all are truly families helping families and have been, that’s always been at the core of everything that we have done.

[00:01:52] Um, and we are the Parent Training and Information Project for the State of Kentucky. Um, and what that is, is under [00:02:00] IDEA the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, they’re called for there to be at least one PTI in every state. We have been Kentucky since Kentucky first received one back in 1988. And what that is, is- is to help support parents, families, our children and youth, educators, um, and really working to build partnership, uh, and provide information and training throughout the state.

[00:02:25] I think it’s important to explain what we don’t do as much as what we do. We are not attorneys, we do not represent families. Um, we are here to empower families, provide the support that’s needed, and lend a listening ear. Um, I can’t take credit for this, um, at- at all for saying this. Um, but one of the wonderful people that I work with, she- she had said that, um, you know, uh, we are who we all- we wanna be who we always needed and continue to need in our life.

[00:02:59] Um, and [00:03:00] so we are here to support one another. We don’t have all of the answers, but we can help to try to find those for you, um, and really help to build that partnership.

[00:03:10] So here’s my first question. What does family engagement mean to you? So if you wanna use the chat, or the question, uh, the- the chat. I love that, where everybody can kind of chat back and forth with one another and you’ll see that the handout, excuse me, the PowerPoint, um, Jenny had shared in the chat there, you can access that. So what does family engagement mean to you?

[00:03:38] I really want to, you know, it can mean so many different things to different people. “Working in partnership with families.” Yes. “Meaningful interaction and collaboration with families.” Yes. “Partnership”, yes. And- and you know, I am, um, uh, we always work to practice what we preach. “Spending time [00:04:00] with family.” Yes.

[00:04:02] Um, and- and really partnership is the key to everything . Um, and- and it really, you know, a lot of times we have to abandon that notion that, um, attending a school event or a- a school event is family engagement, right? That might be one ma- means that you can, uh, engage with families, but that is not the core of family engagement.

[00:04:29] Um, and that is not, um, you know, a lot of times, I think many of us, we have so many responsibilities, whether you’re an educator or a- a parent, a family, that- that we think going to do an uh, going to an event really indicates if there’s family engagement, right? Well, it looks different for every family. And one of the things that I think is very important, and especially for our children and our families, [00:05:00] um, who have disabilities, family engagement may look very different from what may be the typical, which y’all, none of it, and nothing’s the typical normal, right?

[00:05:12] All of us are so unique and wonderful. Um, our children are, just as our families are. And so it’s gonna look very different. Um, and so sometimes I think people get the idea that, you know, if we’re not at a family, um, a family event, that we’re not engaged, we’re not invested as families, but so many things given the responsibilities, sometimes it comes between do I take my child, um, to their therapy session that’s after school, or do I go attend the family school event?

[00:05:48] Um, do I, you know, if attending for some children and youth, attending a school event is very hard for them, right? [00:06:00] Um, so when we look at that, there are so many different reasons, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not engaged as a parent and as a family. It just may look different. Um, and it’s not any less in my, um, involvement and, you know, how much I value school. It’s just, it’s not gonna look like everyone else. And it includes, you know, um, the whole family.

[00:06:28] So you’ll notice that I said, you know, I’m a sibling and I’m a sibling and a mom first. And sometimes I think we only think “family engagement” if a parent is involved.

[00:06:43] Well, I have found, not only for my family, but many families throughout the state, family engagement includes the whole family. You know, looking at the- for siblings, um, of children and youth who have disabilities, [00:07:00] siblings play, and yes, I’m biased, but siblings play a critical role. So do grandparents. Um, and I want us to think of this as not just family, what might be blood family, because for many of us, because our lives can be very isolating, for many of us, it may not be our blood family.

[00:07:25] It was always mom, us kids, and- and my son, right? So, the people who are part of our family aren’t blood related. They are, technically, I guess the name would be friends, but friend-family, right? That is our family. So engaging those people, it’s not, “Are they blood related?” It is, “Are they invested and are they a critical part of the family and the child’s life?”

[00:07:53] Um, and- and it really always keeping the child is the main focus because support [00:08:00] systems for many of us do not, just like family engagement looks very different, our support systems as a family look very different than what one might think, um, and those people that are in our lives that are critical, um, and very important to us.

[00:08:18] So making sure that we include everybody, um, is really important. And something else, especially for families, and I- I’ll have to tell you cuz, you know, I’m one of five kids, right? So many times when there were, you know, if you’re thinking of events or engaging with a family, many times things are not open to everybody, right?

[00:08:44] So if it’s just for a child, you know, if it’s something that’s going on for our child with a- a disability, how you really meaningfully engage a family is that everyone is welcome and everyone is valued as part of the [00:09:00] partnership. Um, because even with looking at if there are events or ways that we communicate being inclusive, uh, not only for our children, but our whole family.

[00:09:14] When we look at, um, sort of the- the core of everything because, um, the relationship is- is gonna be the key for our children to be successful. So I want you all to share with me in the chat, uh, what are characteristics of a great relationship you have? It doesn’t have to be if it is a student or a family in your life. It could be in your personal life, it could be in your work life. What is a characteristic of a great relationship you have?

[00:09:50] “Trust.” Okay, thank you Stephanie. I adore you. Trust that- that is so huge to me. That is- Amber, “Easy.” Yes. [00:10:00] Everything is so difficult in life right now, uh, and easy, that is huge. “Support.” Yes, those are wonderful. The ability to be honest without offense. Yes. That is so critical, Kellie, and- and I think really looking at that- so sometimes we tend to wanna think of family engagement as, is this, um, separate thing we have to do, right? It’s not, it’s part of everything. So you weave it in the relationships that you make. It’s not an additional effort that- that needs to take place, an additional event that needs to take place.

[00:10:45] This is what is going to be the difference in, um, making a successful family engagement in building the relationship. Yes, baked-in. Yes, baked right in. it’s- it’s part of it. [00:11:00] Cuz I think all of us, regardless of who you are, um, and if you’re like me, you’re a problem solver, right? Like, I do best when I feel like I can help and I can solve problems, right?

[00:11:10] Like I think there’s something that I need to do in addition. But if, when you look at family engagement and building that relationship, it is a critical- just a part, you- you approach it just like you would in your personal life with your colleagues at work. It’s not that it needs to be any different.

[00:11:29] And sometimes I think that creates barriers for us because we think that it has to be something different. Um, something additional. And sometimes that could be a barrier that we put in place. “Purposeful.” Yes, Amber, that’s critical. So one of the things that I think is critical that we ask ourself when we look at family engagement is, “Does each of our students-” [dog barks] Well, and I told you all Coco was gonna chime [00:12:00] right on in and let you know how she felt about family engagement.

[00:12:04] So by the way, that meant she feels very strongly about it. [laughs] But does each of your students and their family have at least one meaningful and trusting relationship with someone at school? And you don’t have to answer this, you can if you want in the chat, but let this be your guiding question that’s always in the forefront of your mind when you’re thinking about stuff and when, when you’re working with people, when you’re building those partnerships.

[00:12:36] And here’s the thing, I don’t care if it is the principal of the school, if it is the janitor, if it is the teacher. It doesn’t matter who it is, but there has to be someone at the school that, not only the student, but the family has a meaningful, trusting [00:13:00] relationship with, because if they don’t, you are not going to have family engagement.

[00:13:08] With them at the best possible outcome, right? So if we start off and in when we are looking at different things, we ask ourself that, because sometimes if you ask this and you see that there’s not, then you’re gonna know what needs to be done, right? A lot of us have to know what needs to be done, and it’s so hard.

[00:13:32] It’s not like there’s a magic formula, right? There’s all kinds of evidence-based practices that are out there, different things, but then go back to that building, that relationship, um, and- and look at how we can ensure that every student and family has that. Um, and- and kind of, you know, especially with, because I’m just gonna be honest, I would, and I’ve said [00:14:00] this, I don’t know how many times I would make a horrible teacher.

[00:14:03] I- I’m sure of it. I have the utmost respect and it’s, it is so very hard to juggle all that you have to juggle. Um, but I think in with building that relationship and making sure that there is that meaningful and trusted relationship with the students and their families is gonna help with all of your other responsibilities, cuz it feeds over and you may not see it immediately again, just like every great relationship.

[00:14:35] Think of, um, think in your life, uh, how many relationships have you had that, um, that haven’t taken work or taking time. Um, you’re not gonna see the payoff right away, right? Just like our children, like, um, we are right now. Building and doing things to [00:15:00] hopefully help them and for them to be successful into adulthood.

[00:15:04] So just like with the family engagement and building the relationship, it takes time and the trust that was brought up a lot of times it, um, because based on someone’s previous experiences, whether you’re a parent, family, or an educator, we all have to keep in mind too that our previous experiences and our life experiences shape us.

[00:15:30] So sometimes there’s barriers there and having that trust in one another, um, can be very hard because when we give trust, we give power over, right? And so that’s very hard as a family, especially when it is, when it is your child that. Means the world to you. So it sometimes can be very hard to build that relationship.

[00:15:55] Um, but trust me, when you do have it, it will make a [00:16:00] world a difference. So when we look at the, you know, making every, the child and the family a priority, think of it this way too. What is, uh, this is what I wonder, what, um, when someone has made you a priority in their life, how did that make you feel? And this again, could be in your personal life, in your work life.

[00:16:26] How did it make you feel when someone made you a priority?

[00:16:44] “Loved”, yes.

[00:16:51] “To me, heard”, I love- yes. “It makes me feel like I really matter, that I’m not just a statistic or number”, [00:17:00] “respected”. “It makes me feel valued.” And when I feel valued, and just like you all said, respected, heard, and loved, I- I do better. Um, and sometimes it comes to, and especially given different experiences that- that we have all had and we have lived through, when someone makes me a priority, that breaks down those walls, that builds that trust with one another, and it then is going to help me be able to reciprocate that relationship.

[00:17:42] But also too, I come to the table even better, right? Um, you are gonna get a better version of me. Like when someone makes me a priority, it- it, uh, best way I could think of it is it lights a fire under me, [00:18:00] right? Um, it gives you purpose, it gives you meaning. Our children and families are no different. Um, and it allows for it to, you know, it is going to lead to increased family engagement.

[00:18:15] When we look at successful relationships, the mutual respect for one another, it and value is critical. Um, I- I have set it at many tables, um, and I can tell you that, um, I have set at tables where I was the token parent. I have set at tables where I have been respected and valued for my voice. Um, I have set at a whole variety.

[00:18:47] And so sometimes, even if it’s not words, you can tell as a person, you know this, regardless of your role too, is is there that mutual respect [00:19:00] and value. And it doesn’t mean that you say that I value you, you actually feel it. And there’s a big difference, um, in the two-way communication. A lot of times, um, you know, communication is so critical to anything.

[00:19:15] And I- I think if we get good communication, y’all, whether it talks about family engagement or anything in life, I think good communication can solve everything. I’m- I’m just gonna tell y’all because if we can communicate with one another in a respectful and valued way, we are going to be able to, even if it’s times that we don’t agree or we aren’t really understanding one another, we can still have a successful relationship.

[00:19:47] We build on one another’s strengths. This is the wonderful thing that I love about partnership, um, and building the relationships is everybody has different strengths, right? I just think of [00:20:00] at- at Kentucky SPIN, we all complement one another very well. You know, and we know one another. Yes, we have similarities, but we bring such value in our, not only our own experiences, but our areas that we thrive in, that we help one another.

[00:20:20] Just like, you know, in life, I use my strengths to help with my weaknesses. When you look at a relationship, a successful one is you are going to- everyone’s strengths is gonna help the other with the areas that they- that may be their weakness. And here’s the thing too, about relationships. Success to me, and again, this is Rhonda’s 2 cents, successful relationships.

[00:20:45] It makes it okay for your weaknesses to show. Because if you have that trust, you have that respect and value for one another, is it is- it is going to [00:21:00] help you all to move forward. Because first, everybody has weaknesses. Everybody has strengths. But when we’re on the same page and we value one another’s weaknesses and strengths, and we play to everyone’s strengths, that’s where you create the equality, where everyone’s equal.

[00:21:22] Ability to solve problems. I mean, that’s one of the things, especially as a parent or an educator, I don’t care who you are, we are master problem solvers. Right? Um, and so the great thing about that is, is we all bring different strengths to problem solving. We all bring different experiences. So I think of, you know, and in my family, I, you know, I can tell you some of the things that we have done in the past, we could try it, but the ability to problem solve and try it, and if it works, great.

[00:21:58] If not, we [00:22:00] adjust. But that continued work together is what’s really gonna help us to shape the relationship and we honor one another’s per- point of views, even if we don’t agree. We help one another. Um, and it’s not in, you know, a, um, I’ve got, yeah. Has anyone, uh, ever had those things or, well, I helped you with this, now you need to do this.

[00:22:25] It’s the exact opposite of that is, um, if y’all ever heard the saying of, um, “Be a woman that fixes another woman’s crown without telling everyone that it was crooked.” That saying, I always think of that because it always rings so true to me about relationships, right? Yes. “Love that.” Okay. I do, I do too, Stephanie, I’m so glad I’m not the only one.

[00:22:54] That’s how I view relationships is, um, and I know I put things in [00:23:00] simpler- simpler terms and stuff, but if we look at it as we help one another adjust our crown, which in the end is going to help our child with theirs, um, you know, and- and don’t blame one another or hold grudges. I’m gonna be exactly honest with you all because, that’s just who I am.

[00:23:22] I have a hard time, I don’t forget stuff. And I’m always a working in progress. I have to really work hard not to associate a situation with the person that it took place with. That is something that is- I have to always make myself do because if y’all are like me, the first thing I think of when it was a time that was very difficult in our life, I don’t think of this situation.

[00:23:55] I think of the people that were associated with it, and that’s not fair to them. [00:24:00] That is very hard to master and I’m a work in progress, but we’ve gotta make sure that we do not- we do not let what happened or what we may not agree on or blaming, because blaming really doesn’t help anything. One of the things my mom always said to my brother Grant is, “Do you wanna be right or do you wanna be happy?”

[00:24:28] And I always think of that too, just like the crown is- so sometimes in relationships, we think we have to be right or we have to identify where the wrong was, right? And sometimes- and we have those grudges, we’re not intentionally doing this, but it’s gonna shape your relationship in, if you think of it, okay- how do we move forward?

[00:24:54] Now there’s gonna be people, there’s gonna be families, there’s gonna be educators and people in [00:25:00] your life that may not be your favorite people, right? Or may not be the people that you have that very close, trusted relationship with. But the key within that is, is don’t let, you know, we- there are people that our personalities just don’t mix.

[00:25:20] But when we’re building these relationships, it’s important to not let that hinder it. Um, and sometimes that could be very hard. Um, and sometimes I, you know, because I’m an overthinker, I’m O C D, I’m a, you know, it could be my best and my- my worst quality. I can drive myself crazy, I’m just telling you.

[00:25:42] The thing is, is I think through everything so much that sometimes I have to stop myself and just let it be so that I’m not affecting the relationships that I’m in right now. Again, that’s something that we have to- to- to constantly work [00:26:00] on, you know, and- and, really look at, cuz a lot of times we as people want to point, we can point out on everyone else things, right?

[00:26:13] Sometimes we don’t necessarily see ’em in ourselves. So sometimes have- doing that work ours- on with ourselves is going to help in any relationship that you have. And again, I’ll- I’ll tell you, I’m a constant work in progress, but, um, when we look at sort of, you know, building that relationship is reaching out to one another, not just when there’s a problem.

[00:26:40] Because when there’s a problem is not the right time to build that relationship because it’s, from my experience, I- I- if you’re not in agreement, they’re, you know, everybody’s kind of heated. That is not gonna be the time you are gonna be able at all to- to build that [00:27:00] trusting, valued relationship, right?

[00:27:02] Because we’re human. Reach out at other times. We work with families all the time and with professionals on- Reach out without a reason. And- and this is hard, we have so much stuff that we have to do and reach out when there’s good. Does anyone else- when is the last time, and you all honestly tell me, or if you wanna share, when is whether it has to do with your personal life or work, when is the last time that someone reached out and told you something positive about yourself? Or it could be working with you or purposefully reached out to tell you that? How long ago would you just sort of guesstimate?[00:28:00]

[00:28:07] “Last week.”

[00:28:16] “Yesterday.”

[00:28:21] “Years.”

[00:28:27] Well, and- and I- I thank y’all for sharing that because here’s the thing is I don’t- I don’t know when the last time, if it wasn’t associated with something else, just something positive about myself, the last time. But then I also think too, when’s the last time that I did? Because I’m really bad about, you know, I stay to myself and if it’s not about work or taking care of my family, I don’t [00:29:00] purposely reach out to no one.

[00:29:01] I’m a horrible example here, y’all. I’m giving you the worst possible example. I don’t reach out for the purpose, there’s always a purpose for it, right? Like it’s work I have to handle, or it’s things I have to take care of. I’m not fostering any type of relationship, whether it be work or personal at all.

[00:29:20] Seems no one reaches out just to say something positive. People have said nice things, but it is usually because they are reaching out for something else, right? Think of how much that that would make when you are looking at building relationships, how much that that would mean to a parent, to a family.

[00:29:44] Because I’m gonna tell you, if you do it one time, it is gonna help so much. You know, uh, one of the things too, and- and Kellie had shared, um, that, um, or maybe they use things [00:30:00] to reach out to build that relationship. Yes. And is reach out, start reaching out, like, um, maybe something we could all do and- and make a promise with one another is that- that- that we do that, that we take that initiative because I think it’s gonna help us across the board.

[00:30:19] One of the things too, and Kellie had shared on a- another one of our, uh, trainings is, uh, a thank you note that she received several years back to the office. Because it is so rare for people to write thank you notes anymore. So she still keeps that and it’s on her board. Someone who had wrote her a thank you note, I forget Kellie, it was for- for helping them individually or it was in a train- I can’t remember, but it meant so much to her.

[00:30:52] The same goes it is if you are an educator or a family saying those things. Tell some great [00:31:00] things that went, you know, we don’t always want families to hear, oh well, you know, he misbehaved today. So if it’s always the negative that isn’t gonna do anything to build the relationship, right? I’m not saying that you’re not gonna communicate when things are going wrong, right?

[00:31:16] Because that communication and that relationship building is critical to communicate those things. But we’ve got to- to share the good with one another because there is far too little of it and I promise you it will make a difference, especially when things aren’t going well and they’re working together in the partnership sharing what works with one another.

[00:31:41] It helps so much when teachers share with us, we’re not at school, what’s working at school. Also though, we work with families a lot on sharing what works for them at home, right? So we all have different roles with our children and our youth, right? [00:32:00] And so we’re in different settings. So it may be some things that work and Amber had shared, um, you know, um, one of the- the things that she had shared with, uh, school was some of the things that when something occurs with her son, what she does, right?

[00:32:18] And I think that took the relationship to a different level because we are seeing one another as equals in the partnership, right? And we are sharing that knowledge.

[00:32:30] Take opportunities outside of meetings, being honest with one another, allow disagreements. A lot of people think I’ve lost my mind because, disagreements are good because if you’re disagreeing, you’re getting different input, you’re getting different, um, you’re getting different points of view.

[00:32:51] You’re getting different, um, perspectives, different expertise. That shows me that [00:33:00] there is- there’s a richness that comes with that, that is going to, even when we disagree. Now, in my lovely little world, I would like to be where everybody is happy. That doesn’t always happen, right? But you could disagree and Kellie, I think that you always say be d- disagreeable or have disagreements without being disagreeable.

[00:33:21] So in how you handle those, in that communication, bring solutions to the table because you know, it’s easy to point out the issues and when things are wrong, but when we see ourself as part of the solution, regardless of your role. That’s the key to the relationship and family engagement and respond to one another.

[00:33:42] I see too many times, and yes, I know that well, there’s not enough hours in a day to do all we have to do, and there are emails that I have missed and there are people I’m so behind on responding to, but [00:34:00] respond. You know, making sure that there is that two-way communication and the responding to one another and something I do too.

[00:34:09] And this, I think just makes us human, too. I share with other people, I don’t get offended if you send me a reminder email. I greatly appreciate that. So I’m trusting, you know, I’ve got to where I share with people that you know, and I think it really helps in the building the relationship because I’m like, if I have missed it, please resend it to me.

[00:34:31] Please reach out. It’s not because I don’t think that you’re important or that- that what you want to talk about is unimportant. Have that rel- that’s part of that strong relationship is that we are valuing one another as equals. And you know, it- it’s not that you’re calling me on it, it’s you’re helping me with all that I have to do, too.

[00:34:55] So that’s where some vulnerability and some trust comes into play, too. [00:35:00] Sometimes I think we have to be as parents or as educators, so perfect. Um, that we can’t show our weaknesses or the areas we need help. But I tell you, the more we can see one another as individuals, the better it’s gonna help.

[00:35:17] One of the things that, you know, when we build that relationship, um, you know, getting to know one another, um, build the relationship, not acquaintance- acquaintances, you know, a lot of times, um, you know, and- and- and I’m the main one that’s at fault. So here’s another, yeah, I’m gonna give you a perfect example. I- I have many acquaintances, and relationships I’m not good at, like, I- I’m good I think at loving other people, but I’m not good at receiving it back. Right?

[00:35:55] And I think many times as families, we have had to take [00:36:00] that strong role of, we handle it all, that sometimes it’s not- it’s not gonna be very easy to build that relationship with families because they have- they have to be- they have to depend on them.

[00:36:20] Um, because, you know, and I hope this makes sense, but I think that plays a critical role in, um, sometimes where there can be some barriers in building the relationship because it’s not that we don’t- that we don’t care about you or that we don’t, um, that we don’t value you, but it’s very hard to give up that control, um, as a family because you have been the only constant that’s there.

[00:36:52] And many times, and in many situations, the only one that is there to work, um, [00:37:00] to get the best for your child. And not that there haven’t been good people to do that, but as a parent and as a family, it’s on a different level than anyone else, right? You know, talking with parents, what do they need to participate?

[00:37:17] Um, you know, a lot of times we think we know the answers, just like for our kids, right? Whether you’re a parent or, um, an educator is we can come up with the best solutions, but sometimes it’s asking our child and our child will tell you, no, that’s, you know, that- that’s nice that you thought of that. That’s really not what I need.

[00:37:37] Do the same with parents, with families, because what we think they need may not be what they need at all. And communicating often. Ask them what their strengths and weaknesses are with their child, because again, we have different perspectives, different experiences with our children.

[00:37:56] So the things that we see as a family you may not [00:38:00] readily see. Same vice versa. Provide the opportunities at all levels, not just working one-on-one or in I E P meetings, but, um, within the school as a whole different engagement levels, um, and is looking at as an equal partner. One thing I think is important too, when we, you know, again, working collaborative to solve the problems, we want it to be all of us coming to the table together to solve it.

[00:38:31] Um, one of the things that I think is important to bring up too is, and when, and I’m gonna kind of go back here, is view parents as equal partners and families as equal partners. Cause a lot of times I think we do and we try the best, and- and this goes the same. I’m gonna tell you this goes the same, the flip with parents viewing teachers as a equal partner.

[00:38:58] One thing that I think [00:39:00] sometimes we give messages, like we’re not saying it verbally or not trying to, but sometimes in our body language, in our way that we phrase things, we are not phrasing it or approaching it in an equal manner. I’ll give you the perfect example, and when I say this, this is not to offend anyone who does this, but you know, when you think back and when you are in a meeting, um, with a parent, right?

[00:39:33] Is can you tell me, is do you call the parent by their name or do you call them mom? Do you call them dad?

[00:39:48] Or as if you’re on here and you are a parent. Has anyone called you, when you’re working with school, did they call you by your name or did they call you by mom [00:40:00] or dad? The professionals at school, if y’all wanna share with me.

[00:40:13] “Depends on the relationship. I’ve done both and have both done to me.” Yes. And all of us, we, you know, we do- we share, well, the reason I bring this up, and- and you know, again, I told you all, I overanalyze everything. In an equal relationship, um, we don’t- when a parent comes to a meeting, we don’t call you teacher. We don’t call you principal.

[00:40:42] So right there in just how we refer to one another, we’re setting the stage where it’s not necessarily equal and not trying to, because I think many times when someone calls, says “mom”, they really are meaning it as adding value, right? Because I am [00:41:00] the mom, they are valuing me. But just in the little approaches that we take, again, remember when we talked about make someone a priority, make them feel special? Is that if you take the time, and we look at those little things, I know it may sound so silly to point out something like that, but it does make a difference.

[00:41:27] Um, another thing that I think is huge in building the relationship is understanding the difference between empathy and pity. Because the last thing that a family wants or an educator, I think wants, is not pity for everything that- that we’re handling we’re going through, but I think sometimes we can, not intentionally, but we confuse the two. That plays a huge row in families feeling as equal [00:42:00] partners or teachers as equal partners.

[00:42:02] Because I’m gonna tell you as families, we could be- we could do that, too. Um, so all of those things do play a role in building that successful relationship. And again, you know, it’s just one- one example of, and when I bring up the mom and dad thing, and, uh, let me just first of all tell you all I’m horrible with names, like I know faces, so that makes it very hard, right?

[00:42:29] Uh, this is a great way to look at this. When I call another, uh, parent, mom, or dad, I personally am locking out them like my- looking at them like myself. Yes, well, and see this- this is when I can get carried away with the overanalyzing things. But I guess I just, um, so much plays a part in- in things, um, and really that meaningful engagement with families that we don’t realize, you know, we just come a- [00:43:00] accustomed to how we approach things, right? Because we’re human.

[00:43:03] Um, and again, our past experiences have shaped that. Um, and not that it’s wrong to call someone mom or dad, right? Because I really think when people call us that they’re giving value because we are the mom, we are the dad. But on the flip side also too, in building that relationship, you are taking it past it being just because you’re mom.

[00:43:30] I have this relationship with you. It is a- it is a mutual relationship to benefit the child. So, um, really when we look at involving and having an open door policy again to where families feel comfortable, and it’s not just- a lot of times when we hear open door policy, we think of you can lit- you can physically come into the building, right? Secure, you know, all of that.

[00:43:58] But I think sometimes what’s [00:44:00] even more important when you look at an open door policy is the atmosphere and the openness to one another, that we allow for that two-way communication, acceptance of one another, um, and value of one another, that for that reciprocal relationship. And make time available and share- share information, help plan together.

[00:44:27] You know, all of these things are gonna be critical in the family-school partnership. And again, keep in mind each family’s different and the level at which they- they will be engaged may look a little different, but it doesn’t mean that they aren’t still engaged. Um, and sometimes, um, and we’ll bring up some other stuff here in just a second of maybe some things that- that play a huge role in it as well.

[00:44:59] So what [00:45:00] are some good characteris- some char, uh, if I could speak. What are some characteristics of good family-school partnership to you?

[00:45:09] “Families feel at ease when walking through the door.” Yes.

[00:45:34] “Both sides being purposeful.” I agree with Stephanie, yes. And you know, and I- I- I’m so glad that you said that, “feel at ease”, because I get my anxiety in a lot of situations. Sometimes just- and I get so nervous inside, um, that sometimes, just like what you [00:46:00] said, the ease of walking through the door would help so much if I felt comfortable.

[00:46:05] Comfort is the key to a successful relationship. If- if we can get to the level where we’re comfortable with one another, then that there is, I mean, could you imagine, um, how wonderful and what we can accomplish for our babies?

[00:46:25] “Feeling like you are teammates rather than opponents.” Absolutely. Well, and- and some of the things as we go through are knowledge, growing our knowledge, um, and sharing with- with one another.

[00:46:40] You know, parent-friendly language, uh, community, they are experts with their child. Yes. And- and- and that’s so key, um, because each child is so different. Um, and you know, as a mama, you know, you know your child. [00:47:00] Um, and- and as a sibling, I guess I should have said, intentionally purposeful, that makes all the difference to me.

[00:47:07] It does. Intentional- the intentionality, um, is the critical part of that. Thank you Amber. Use of, you know, understanding all of it. Many times we come to the table and, I don’t know about you, but regardless if you’re a family or a professional, there are many tables that we come to. We don’t have a clear understanding of everything.

[00:47:33] We haven’t provided one another with the knowledge that is gonna help us be successful to work together for our children. We maybe haven’t shared as a family with everyone at the table. Um, the things that are critical to know and to be successful to help because just like Stephanie said, that there- families are the experts on their children.

[00:47:57] The same goes in reverse. Professionals [00:48:00] may not have shared everything. So that- or we may not have had the opportunity to- to have the knowledge so that we can successfully participate. Not only building a relationship, but also embedding in it the sharing of knowledge and the opportunity of knowledge.

[00:48:22] Again, having the opportunity and being, you know, like Amber said, intentionally purposeful in not only in the efforts we take with one another, but the knowledge sharing is key. And a lot of times I see we may be really good at building personal relationships, but we don’t share that knowledge. And if you don’t have both, you’re not gonna be successful or as successful as you could be. I guess I should put it that way.

[00:48:54] And when everybody has all the information, could you imagine, um, [00:49:00] in like school meetings and- and events, again, encourage them to participate. Not just encourage, but have them be part of the planning. Have them- everybody feel welcomed and comfortable. Give alternate ways to, you know, again, I started out with giving the example, not all events or meetings can we attend, like other families may be able to. That doesn’t mean we can’t be engaged though.

[00:49:27] Is there another way that I could participate if I can’t be there in person? Sometimes we think, well that can’t be possible. Well if you’re having a meeting say about, uh, family math night, right? And I can’t go with my child, but if there was some great information that was shared or a video that you could share with me as a family, uh, send it out through like a newsletter or something.

[00:49:52] So one thing that we do at Kentucky SPIN, and we’re working really hard to build this is, we are providing the [00:50:00] same information through a variety of formats, right? Not everybody can come to in-person. Not everybody can be on a webinar. So we record those, provide ’em, we do short videos, we have infographics, so think of it, of everybody in using social media or email.

[00:50:17] So look at a variety of ways and sometimes we haven’t necessarily done that in when we’re trying to, you know, we think we hold an event and- and who can come. Great. That many people got it. But think of how much more we could do about that same effort in getting that message out there, because not all families have the opportunities to participate in those.

[00:50:41] Not that you haven’t provided it, but we may not be able to given all that that has occurred or that’s going on. And again here, just like Stephanie said, they know their child best, a wealth of knowledge. And sometimes I think and, when we build that relationship and the value in the trusting one [00:51:00] another, families are gonna be more comfortable in sharing their knowledge with you.

[00:51:07] Because just like think back, you know, I can think back in not just with work or my family, but different things throughout my life when someone’s underestimated me and not valued me. I am very much less likely to share my knowledge or the things because I don’t feel comfortable and I don’t feel welcome.

[00:51:27] Um, and you know, I think when we’re building that relationship, we are gonna automatically open those doors to share that wealth of knowledge with one another. And again, it doesn’t happen overnight. So when we are looking at, when we share stuff, look at again, the variety of formats, um, that you could provide that in.

[00:51:51] One thing that I do want us to talk about, and I know we’re getting close on time here. I could, y’all, I could talk about partnership and family engagement, I guess if you could tell, [00:52:00] forever. But one of the things too is many of our families, many of our parents have disabilities themselves. So if they disclose if they have a disability, what accommodations do they need to fully participate?

[00:52:16] You know, um, many times, just like our children need accommodations and under the Americans with Disabilities, uh, Act and Section 5 0 4 of Rehabilitation, those things cover parents as well and with family engagement. So sometimes, and something that might be really good is to ask all your families, like if you’re having ’em fill out a survey, um, do you have a dis- do you need accommodations?

[00:52:46] If they tell you that, cuz again, it’s self-disclosure if they wanna disclose it or not. But it creates opportunity because, um, for many of our families who have disabilities, [00:53:00] many of our parents, um, being able to fully participate and be engaged, our disability, um, we may not be able to it, uh, in building that relationship, too.

[00:53:13] So there are a lot of things to consider. You know, avoid making assumptions. Never assume that a parent with a disability is not capable of participating fully in their child’s education. Just like our children, we don’t assume that about our children regardless of their disability. The same goes for families.

[00:53:34] Um, and they have great, uh, you know, knowledge and provide the assistance when requested. Many times you’re gonna find that because a lot, uh, I know a lot of times people will be like, oh my gosh, I can’t handle doing one more thing. Okay. A lot of times, just like for our children, asking them, it could be something very simple, not complicated, but could help them be able [00:54:00] fully to participate.

[00:54:02] You know, the materials, making sure that they’re in accessible format and not just accessible, like, you know, which these are perfect examples. Large print, braille, digital. Um, they are accessible in an understandable format because, um, many, um, uh, many of our families, their disability, it also plays in just like with our child in the understanding things and depending upon the disability they may have, that’s gonna play a critical role in that.

[00:54:37] The communication, sometimes, um, parents, their disability, the way their disability affects them, affects how they can communicate with you. So really finding out, and that’s an accommodation that you could provide for them. Again, a lot of times, and here’s a great thing now in the- the world we live in, there’s so many ways to [00:55:00] communicate that are readily available to us that weren’t years ago.

[00:55:05] Um, but really keeping in mind because, um, you know, in the way we communicate with them, that we work with them, all of those things play a critical role. The school event, accessible location. I know this may seem very, um, like we already know this, right, Rhonda? Okay. But I can’t tell you, my brother Grant, he used a power wheelchair and is, um, legally blind.

[00:55:31] Um, but I cannot tell you how many meetings specifically, um, that we have been to trainings to provide for families, how many things that we have been to, and we get there and Grant can’t get in. Um, and these have been events that, or they’ve [00:56:00] moved it, it’s gonna be on the stage. Well, the stage doesn’t have a ramp.

[00:56:05] You know, so those things play, uh, a critical role, is there with the- their impairments, you know, making sure that we’re keeping in mind for parents and families who may have disabilities themselves, that they’re- if we want everyone to be meaningfully engaged, we have to make sure it’s accessible to them.

[00:56:27] Um, and one of the things when we look here is accessibility is not just- a lot of times we think accessibility is just physical accessibility. Of course, that is a huge thing. Like the example I- I gave to you, um, uh, about, you know, Grant couldn’t physically get in the building and so we’re having to- we’ve become masters of figuring things out because it’s like, okay, how are we gonna do this, right? [laughs]

[00:56:55] But it’s not just the physical accessibility, that’s just one [00:57:00] type. There are all different kinds of ways to keep into consideration, have we made it accessible to someone? Um, and inclusion, um, it- it’s going to help so that our parents can be included. And part of, because we know the more that our- we build that relationship and our families are engaged, the better our children are going to- are gonna be able to do.

[00:57:26] And so we need to create an atmosphere that is accessible. And again, this is ever changing with all of the different technology, the things that we learn. We are having to- we are constantly learning different things to keep improving, to make ourselves more and more accessible to everyone.

[00:57:47] Providing interpreters. Um, I know we are just about at our time. There’s a couple of things I wanted to, you know, these are just some examples of some ways, um, things to keep in mind, providing those [00:58:00] for families. But keeping, one thing here that I think is- is very- keeping conversations simple and focused. Uh, sometimes, and I’m really bad at this, that, uh, and you could probably tell this from here, is, you know, obviously I said I overanalyze, but I overexplain stuff, right?

[00:58:19] So keeping things very short, simple and focused. Intentionally patient, just like intentionally, um, up here, um, which, um, intentionally purposeful, be intentionally patient with one another. And that goes both ways. There’s sometimes we get so impatient, but then we don’t, we, um, get upset when people aren’t patient with us or give us grace.

[00:58:45] So that’s something I think that we all have to work on as well. Again, the alternate means to communicate. One of the things here that I want to- to talk about, um, here is- is the [00:59:00] choices we give to families. Just like for, I don’t know about y’all, but I prefer choices over someone telling me what’s gonna work for me or what’s not. And I think our children do too. And I think regardless of who you are in your role on here, choices could be a good thing, right?

[00:59:19] So anytime that there are choices that you can provide families, yes, I understand that we- we can’t possibly provide everything in a hundred different ways, but anytime that you can give choices and it’s possible in providing the information, the knowledge, the steps, the interaction, the communication, it is gonna help. And chunk information, um, and- and reinforce, just like with our children, reinforce and breaks. The trauma-informed practices is huge because many of us, and especially if many of [01:00:00] us have experienced traumatic things throughout- throughout our life and especially, you know, depending upon the disability and the things, um, that you may experience, is being very mindful of that, just like we are about our children.

[01:00:16] And we’ve come a long way and I’m so very proud, um, with trauma-informed practices with our children, um, and- and within the school and within life itself. But sometimes we forget to apply those trauma-informed practices when we’re working with adults and one another. Um, and- and I think that’s really gonna be critical and allow voices to be heard, um, and the opportunity, and not just to be heard, but to be valued and taken into consideration.

[01:00:52] Thinking outside the box. I’m telling y’all what, I think my life lives outside the box. Um, and you know, [01:01:00] having that, that goes back with the problem solving. One of the things that I think is very critical before we wrap up here, is that many times people don’t know that parent counseling and training can be a related service in a child’s I E P.

[01:01:17] Now I have, this is, um, one of the things that I’ve really been trying to work hard to spread the knowledge about this and- and so that people are aware of it because out of all of these years and all the I E Ps that I’ve seen, I have yet to see an I E P that has parent training listed. Y’all, I’m gonna have a big old party the day that I do because it’s so critical and it doesn’t mean it’s extra.

[01:01:46] Parents don’t know this is available to them. Many educators don’t know that this could be a related service, and it’s not that you have to provide all the training. We can help. Our video library, the training we provide [01:02:00] partners throughout, that could actually be provided through another agency, through partners.

[01:02:07] Um, it could be videos, information, infographs. It could be things that will help a family. And- and the point of it is, is to assist the parents in understanding the special needs of their child, provide parents with information about child development, and help the parents acquire the necessarily skills that will allow them to support the implementation of the child’s I E P.

[01:02:31] It’s so critical. And I think it’s so important and so many families need it and keeping into consideration too, a- a- a parent who may have a disability themselves. This may be a critical thing that they need to be able to meaningfully participate in their child’s I E P, in their child’s education.

[01:02:54] So, I know I wanna end us here. What- I want y’all to share some [01:03:00] things, and I know I’m going over time, so I do apologize. Um, y’all wanna share something that has worked for you in family engagement?

[01:03:26] While y’all are [crosstalk] Yes, go ahead.

[01:03:30] Amber Hamm: Well, I was just gonna say, I know I’m kind of beating the dead horse by saying intentionally purposeful, but I think that it’s so very important. Um, earlier on in the presentation you had discussed how, you know, the family or the student should have, you know, a meaningful relationship with at least one person in the building.

[01:03:54] And something that- that I have come to learn, uh, and both of my [01:04:00] kids as well, is that we all can tell if that meaning relationship is purposeful or intentional. So whether that be on our side as parents and families, or whether that be on the school side, always reminding yourself that we do need to be intentional when we’re building those relationships.

[01:04:26] Um, be- especially our kiddos, they pick up on- on just about everything. Um, so I- I just wanted to share that. That’s- that’s been a huge help in- in my family in trying to build the relationships with the schools.

[01:04:41] Rhonda Logsdon: I love that you shared that because it is so important. And Stephanie had said, “Taking time to build a relationship, not rushing families to get out the door.”

[01:04:51] Yes. And that just makes you, that goes back to that comfort, y’all. Um, there’s so much to be said about com- maybe this is my old [01:05:00] age coming in, but comfort and peace. There is a peace to that where you feel comfortable. And that is like, if there is such a secret sauce to building a relationship, um, that would probably be it.

[01:05:14] Um, one of the things, and I’m so grateful that you all have shared and been interactive with this, um, you know, keeping in mind, none of us have all the answers. And one thing that has helped me with, you know, what’s worked for me with family engagement is when I allow myself to open up and be vulnerable, because I have a very hard time with that.

[01:05:38] Not that I’m perfect. It’s- I’m the furthest thing from it, but that trust thing, I have a hard time with it because I’m giving the control up and um, and sometimes, you know, being able to show my weaknesses to other people has helped me build relationships, [01:06:00] too.

[01:06:01] Well, and we’re gonna share in the chat here, if you could take just a few minutes, please give us your feedback, our evaluation, we would greatly appreciate if you would share. We are always looking for every opportunity to improve. If there’s anything that you think would be beneficial.

[01:06:18] One thing we just released the end of last week, our infographic that has some of the stuff that we have shared here, uh, that you could click on the, um, handout, our family engagement tips, uh, for school, um, our infographic here. You can click on that to access that. Um, it will also before too long be available, um, in video format, but please let us know. We’re so grateful for you all how we could help, um, reach out to us anytime. And I hope you all have a wonderful evening.

[01:06:55] I guess it’s still morning. I’m trying to get [laughs]- I’ve been up for a [01:07:00] while, y’all. “I love the information provided”, than- oh, thank you so much, stephanie. We greatly appreciate y’all. You take care now.