November 29, 2021 | KY-SPIN

[00:00:00] Rhonda Logsdon: Thank you all so much for joining us for, uh, one of our, um, for Family Engagement Celebration, uh, “Family Engagement: What Is It, What It Means To You, and Tips Along the Way” that we thought that we’d share and just have a conversation with one another.

[00:00:00] Rhonda Logsdon: Thank you all so much for joining us for, uh, one of our, um, for Family Engagement Celebration, uh, “Family Engagement: What Is It, What It Means To You, and Tips Along the Way” that we thought that we’d share and just have a conversation with one another.

[00:00:17] Um, just to, uh, tell you a little bit if you were on here early, we’ve already had a few little technology issues. So if you would give us, uh, grace and not only that, I will prepare you that if you happen to hear background noise or barking, um, I apologize in advance.

[00:00:35] Um, so one of the things as we jump right on in here, um, I think also too with go to my webinar, it knows it’s a Monday. I don’t know about you all, um, but it wouldn’t let me put the handouts.

[00:00:48] But if you look in the chat and not to worry if you don’t see the chat, some people see the questions box, some chat, some both, not to worry. What we’ll do is, [00:01:00] um, and, uh, you’ll see that I have put the hand out there. You click the link. You’ll also get this in a follow-up email, um, after tomorrow from the Holtz, uh, Monthly Celebration. And it’ll have the link to not only this handout, but the other sessions that we’ve had as well.

[00:01:18] So, I’m so grateful that you all have joined us. I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and was able to relax and spend time with your family and the ones that you know, the ones that you love and cherish most.

[00:01:29] Um, so also too, I’ve got some amazing coworkers on here helping us as we go. And we, if you’re commenting cuz we’ll ask several questions throughout. If you just make sure when you comment, like in the chat, you could participate through the chat, the questions box. And just to make sure that you put it to everyone.

[00:01:52] Um, and that will ensure that they’re able to see it as well as they’re helping us. Cuz I don’t wanna miss your all’s great input, um, that [00:02:00] you have. So we’ll go ahead and get started here.

[00:02:05] Just to tell you a little bit about Kentucky SPIN. It’s Kentucky Special Parent Involvement Network and we are all persons with disabilities and or family members helping one another through the process.

[00:02:17] Um, one of our main grants that we have is through the US Department of Education, and we’ve had that since Kentucky first received one back in 1988. Um, and what that is, is we are truly families helping families through peer support. Um, we do not act as attorneys, we don’t represent families. We help to know available resources.

[00:02:41] Um, stepping through the process and offer a support, not to do it for you, but to help you as you navigate, um, navigate, you know, not just with education, um, but all types of things. Um, because we know at- as a family or person with a disability [00:03:00] there, um, there are all kinds of different processes and everybody has different guidelines, right?

[00:03:05] So truly this is built on helping one another and from what we’ve learned and we learn from and that you all share with us as well, especially if there’s a need or something that it comes up, we’ll try to work the best we can, uh, to do that. So we help also outside of trainings, one-on-one, stepping through the process.

[00:03:26] Just to- to tell you a little bit about myself-

[00:03:59] Kellie Smith: It looks [00:04:00] like Rhonda may have, uh, be having some technical difficulties, so we’re gonna give her just a second.

[00:04:17] Rhonda Logsdon: Okay guys, can you all hear me now?

[00:04:21] Kellie Smith: We can.

[00:04:23] Rhonda Logsdon: Okay, so it’s, definitely a Monday and this is all probably cuz I’m associated with it, so I am very sorry, but um, where I live I have to call in and the phone just hung up and I didn’t touch it. So, um, this was only a test. We will get back to the regularly scheduled program right now.

[00:04:44] So thank you all so much for hanging in there with us. And I’m not sure where we left off, but we are- I am one of five kids. Uh, three of my siblings, um, have disabilities from the seen to the unseen and are smarter than I can [00:05:00] wish to be. And I also foster adopted the greatest gift of my life. So truly, we are all here, we’re persons with disabilities and or family members helping one another.

[00:05:11] So I thought as we look at this, one of the things I wanted to do is, first of all, before we talk about family engagement, I wanted to talk about how we define family. Um, this looks different for everybody. And, you know, many, uh, people think that family is just, if you’re blood related. Well, some of our closest family that’s family in my family are not blood related.

[00:05:39] Um, and it looks different like in- in- in our family, you know, it’s a mom. For my son, it’s a mom and an aunt, and an uncle G is our very immediate family. So everybody’s family looks different, and I wanted to kind of establish that anyone who loves and cares or supports a child is family. [00:06:00] Um, and that’s the thing I think that makes everything so wonderful is because every family looks different, right?

[00:06:08] Just how boring would that be if it didn’t? Um, and there are such unique gifts, um, that come, um, from all of our families and sharing with one another that, um, you know, I couldn’t ask for a better gift for any of us, and especially when we’re looking at family engagement. Um, and we’ll dig a little deeper into that in a minute.

[00:06:29] But, you know, uh, anyone, you know, it doesn’t have to be blood related. It can be. But again, anyone who supports one another, and obviously I’m- I’m biased too, when I- I say family, when we talk about family engagement, the ones that you consider the closest to you in your immediate, um, that is, that’s who you wanna engage, that’s who’s important.

[00:06:56] Um, and so as we go through this, keep that [00:07:00] in mind. Um, you know, grandparents, siblings, um, friends that are family, um, all are important and play a critical role as we go through this, um, in our children and youth being successful. So you’ll share with me in the chat, or if it’s just the questions box you see, what does family engagement mean to you?

[00:07:34] So we’re gonna bring up here and y’all don’t be shy of being involved. I love that.

[00:07:44] “Families working with professionals.” Yes.

[00:07:51] “Supporting the ones we love.” Yeah, and I love that you said the ones we love because you didn’t say if you were a [00:08:00] parent or if you were a teacher or who you were.

[00:08:06] Let’s see. I’m trying to get my-

[00:08:11] “Actual involvement of the family in decisions that are made”, that is so important. When you feel, and guys, you may have to help me out here, it’s hard to see some of them, but I wanna, um- “When you feel comfortable and confident confiding it”, that is so critical and I’m so glad that you brought that up.

[00:08:35] “A good supportive system”, “Loved”.

[00:08:39] Kellie Smith: Rhonda, some of those, I’m sorry, can you hear me?

[00:08:44] Rhonda Logsdon: Yes, go ahead, please.

[00:08:46] Kellie Smith: Uh, some of those say, uh, being involved, uh, having an inclusion from families to be advocates, time and chatting together, uh, with kids and all types of people. [00:09:00] Open communication, um, a good supportive system, um, a loved one. And, uh, you feel comfortable, uh, confiding in, you feel comfortable confiding in.

[00:09:17] Rhonda Logsdon: Yes.

[00:09:18] Kellie Smith: And those are the ones I see right now.

[00:09:21] Rhonda Logsdon: That’s awesome. And I love you all pitching in and stuff like that because I- I love, I do miss that from in-person where it- it feels like we’re all become a family when we’re together in a training and a workshop. Um, but yes, all of those are very important with family engagement.

[00:09:39] So here’s what I- I’ve- I think we need to abandon the notion that family engagement equals attending a school event. I think that it can certainly be a means that a family can be engaged, right? That’s an opportunity that’s there. [00:10:00] But I think we many times associate a family’s engaged if they show up for math night, a family’s engaged if they’re at a parent teacher conference.

[00:10:11] Certainly those are ways that we could go about doing that, but to me it’s much bigger than that. Um, and I guess too, and this may not be like the typical training on family engagement, I’m not gonna throw out statistics to you.

[00:10:27] I guess I should have gave you all this disclaimer in the beginning. I’m not gonna throw out statistics, I’m not gonna throw out, uh, you know, there’s- there’s times and places I think for a lot of this, but I wanted to start from the basics with this. Family engagement, what leads to it and what makes it successful? And this is just not only what I think, the things that I’ve noticed from families and from professionals, um, the things that have worked and how we build that strong partnership.

[00:10:58] And of course, keep in mind too [00:11:00] with all of this is times that it doesn’t work right. Okay. But that’s how we learn. Um, and one of the things too, it- it looks different for each family in school, right? Um, maybe the way I would engage, may be very different than the way Kellie would engage with the school, if we have the same child in the same class.

[00:11:24] You know, our children are in the same class together. How I engage may be very different from her. It doesn’t mean one is more important or better than the other, and family engagement means something different for everyone as well. And the thing about that is, is you know, um, a lot of times it’s perceptions and what people feel, right?

[00:11:46] Um, and it includes the whole family. It’s so important to include the whole family. I can tell you as being one of five kids, most of the time, I’m just gonna be honest with y’all, um, is with [00:12:00] my twin sister and I, there’s a bit of age difference between the youngest ones. You know, we were a little bit older.

[00:12:07] Um, and so you all could see it on everybody’s face when we would come to stuff because it was almost like, “Oh my God, here comes that whole bunch.” Right? Okay. But for us to be engaged, it had to include the whole family. And the thing about it is, is there were so many gifts that each brought in the school and people were very, uh, welcoming.

[00:12:30] Um, and especially when you look at, um, the opportunities that present their self, um, because you may find, especially when you have a family member who has a disability and would have an I E P in school or 5 0 4, um, family and family involvement looks very different from say what a child who doesn’t have a disability.

[00:12:55] And you know, many times mom [00:13:00] may not have been able to help at certain stuff, but my twin sister and I could go help, right? That was still family engagement. That was still very important family time we would help out, you know, and it was directly related to our whole family being involved, right? It doesn’t matter who it is that does it.

[00:13:20] Because many times when we wanna associate, if it’s just the parent or the guardian, many grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends, that you consider your family, right? They’re not blood related. They play critical roles. Um, and all in the end, it puts the child or youth as the main focus, right? That is what is critical, the family engagement.

[00:13:44] Because many times when I see we may have some difficulties or some roadblocks that come up between us, we’ve got- we don’t intend this regardless if you’re a family or you are a professional, right? We have got kind of off of [00:14:00] the focus, um, and this, listen, I’m gonna tell you just- just this- (laughs) there is so much we all, regardless of your role, have to do in a day.

[00:14:10] And things just keep getting more demanding in all of our lives, right? Um, so, um, when we kind of shift from that focus, sometimes we can, um, it- it sometimes can just make things harder, right? But it doesn’t mean that you can’t fix that. Um, and I have to, and I’ll tell you, I have to remind myself many a times, like, okay, no. Now get back to what was the main thing here, (laughs) right?

[00:14:41] Um, I have to have those self-talks. Does anybody else, y’all, y’all, even if you’re making me feel better, do y’all ever have to have self-talks with yourself? Um, because I do, because I have to get myself back on track. But if we keep our children as the main focus every day- thank [00:15:00] you. (laughs)

[00:15:01] If we keep our children as the main focus, that is what is going- you’re gonna be able to build all from.

[00:15:09] Now what I feel is the core of family engagement. You know, just like we said, I don’t think of family engagement as school events. Think of it as a relationship. The core there, the peak, the core of family engagement starts with a relationship.

[00:15:29] And I think we have to go back to the basics. Why don’t you all, uh, help and share with me what are the characteristics? And when I say of a great relationship you have, it could be with a coworker, it could be with your spouse, with your children, with family, friends, personal, work. Um, share with me what the characteristic of a great relationship that you all have.[00:16:00]

[00:16:02] “No judgment.” And that was in all capital letters. Thank you. I think I’m gonna give you an amen on that one.

[00:16:10] “Being able to be yourself.” Yes.

[00:16:18] Kellie Smith: I see Rhonda- (crosstalk) I’m sorry. This is Kellie. Um, I see the ability to talk about anything, trust the ability to be honest and have good communication, understanding with empathy, and no pity, and honesty. See all those in our questions box.

[00:16:47] Rhonda Logsdon: Yes. and- and I love that. And you all, I mean, you all don’t even need me. (laughs) Uh, but that’s- that’s the thing. And really we think of- of the family engagement as this big, [00:17:00] huge effort we have to do. Right? It’s in every day and it’s- it’s we build a relationship with one another. It’s not an additional task. You build it in.

[00:17:12] And what makes good family engagement at the core of it is a relationship between the school and the family and being honest. And I’m so glad too that one of the things that, um, was said to the (inaudible) because- I don’t need nobody feel sorry for me. Right? But we do need to understand one another. Um, but I think that’s critical as well.

[00:17:39] And I love that you all are all pitching in here and we learn from one another. And that’s what I had hoped that that would happen here, because the things that you all are bringing up, those are key. So let’s don’t think of it as different, that family engagement’s different. Take what you know is already a great characteristic of [00:18:00] a relationship that is good for you, regardless of your role.

[00:18:04] Apply that to school. And then when we look here at Successful relationships and you all had- had said this as well, mutual respect and value. One is not better than the other. One is not the authority. Um, many time, yes, there are guidelines, there are procedures we all have to follow in everything, right? But in a relationship, and when we’re talking about family, school relationships, having mutual respect and value, I don’t know about you all, but I wanna be valued and respected.

[00:18:44] And it’s not something that you easily find sometimes. And I’m not just talking about school, I’m talking about in life in general, right? Bigger scope, picture, and especially, you know, how things have been lately. Everybody’s had very hard times. [00:19:00] And the two-way communication, right? Those are gonna be things that are critical, um, to where we can share with one another.

[00:19:11] We build on our strengths, just like we talk about, um, always start with our children’s strengths, right? Because they’re no different than us as adults. And I- I say this and people are probably so tired of hearing me, but I use my strengths to help me with my weaknesses. Build on strengths. Everybody has strengths, so it’s not only important to know the child or the youth’s strengths, it’s important to get to know one another and know one another on a level to where we value respect.

[00:19:44] We know one another’s strengths regardless of your role. Everyone’s equal. Everyone brings great things to the table and the ability to problem solve. So I see many times, and this is not in [00:20:00] education, this is another one of those in life in general. We always hear about the bad things first, right? We always hear about the issues, the problems, all of that.

[00:20:11] But very few times do people bring solutions. So how are we gonna work together? They don’t see themselves as a part of it, the solution. And that’s where we kind of have to take a step back because if- if you’re not a part of the solution, you’re part of the problem, right? And- and so how do we work together?

[00:20:33] And again, all of this is easy to say, but in grander scheme, these are things, and not just with school, but all relationships. How do we, when there is a problem or a issue, how do we also, not only can point it out, but come up with some suggestions, honor each person’s view, even if you don’t agree. And hear one another, help one another.

[00:20:59] Let me tell you, [00:21:00] there is far too little help in this world and far too much of negative that I’m gonna tell you, somebody says they wanna help. I am like, “Oh yeah.” (laughs) I don’t know if anyone else felt that, but, and don’t blame one another or hold grudges. We have to be able to separate if there’s a problem or an issue.

[00:21:23] And again, all of this I’m talking about is regardless if you’re the family or the school or any, right? These are roles and these are things that are gonna help all of us. Don’t blame one another. Separate the issue from the person. And I know that’s hard because does anyone else feel like, um, that you, um, always think back?

[00:21:48] You know, I’ll think back to, um, I’ll think back to a really bad day I had, and what I think of first is the [00:22:00] person associated with it, and that’s not fair to them. Right? Um, every one of us has bad days and it depends on what you have going on in your life right then, how you take things.

[00:22:15] And I hope that makes sense because I’ve learned too that I- I- another one of those, I have to have self-talk myself, like, okay, “You’re in a negative space right now, okay? You need to come back and view this with a clear head”, right? And especially when it has to do with our children and youth that we love the most, right?

[00:22:35] Regardless if you’re the family or school, because I- I can lay you money that nobody got into this field for the glory of it, right? Um, that there is a huge why, and the key to a successful relationship is knowing one another, and knowing you may not know everybody’s why, but [00:23:00] understanding that they do have a why is going to help you. Because, you know, 99.9% of the time, everybody, rather, they’re a family or a professional, means good, right?

[00:23:15] And there is a strong positive reason that they’re in this. And so really getting to know one another on the relationship level. Now this doesn’t mean, um, if something’s gone wrong and you’re in the middle of an argument, then you don’t try, you know, it’s about timing of everything, right? And it doesn’t mean even if you may have a strained relationship right now, that you cannot work to bring that back.

[00:23:41] And also something too that I think, and I did not put this on here, and I cannot believe I didn’t, be able to say, “I’m sorry.” Be able to say that you’re wrong. Sometimes we get so caught up in our pride. Um, and this is not just in this type of [00:24:00] relationship, any that, um, you know, we don’t admit when we’re wrong.

[00:24:05] Um, I can tell you I’ve ate crow more times than I could count, and I probably will a million more before I leave this world. But being able to be, and that goes back to being honest with one another, um, and really looking at all of that.

[00:24:21] So when we are building our family relationship, start with small things. Um, a thank you, a thank you note. It could be a thank you tech- you know, depending on how you communicate. It could be an email, it could be if you’re passing them, dropping your child off at school. The family could say, or the teacher could say to you, “How are you today?” I hope you have a great day. Reach out when there’s not a reason.

[00:24:49] That’s how you build the relationship that’s gonna be key for family engagement because again, if we don’t have that relationship, you are not gonna have [00:25:00] authentic family engagement. So share with one another, the great things you see. I like to use, and you all may have heard on some of the other webinars, but, um, one of the ones that- and my son, he’s- he’s in high school now, so my baby- my baby’s growing up, y’all, I’m having the big one.

[00:25:16] But, um, it- at middle school, when I went to the parent teacher conference, like, um, you know, I shared with them, uh, it was an experiment that they took the kids outside of one of the science experiments they’s working on. And, uh, y’all know this too though, if you are a parent of teens and them sharing something with you, that right there you’re grateful for, right? (laughs)

[00:25:40] Um, but um, and he told me all about it and how they did the project. So I shared that with them. They just kinda looked at me dumbfounded, like, I don’t think anybody- And this was later in the day, and that whole day had said anything nice to them. Think about that. Um, I said, [00:26:00] you know, because to me that gave me and my son a chance to talk about it.

[00:26:03] He shared with what he is doing. Cause a lot of times, every day I always ask my son, ever since he was little, “How was your day today?” He’ll say, “Good”, right? And so I’m like, you know, he or me, the mom, the needy mom, I’m wanting to know, well, how was it? What did you do? And all that. But he comes and he shares stuff with me when he wants to.

[00:26:24] So I’ve learned that part about parenting. Um, but I still do ask. But sharing with them that, and that helped ease things where, you know, that we were sharing something that we really enjoyed and I was so happy. Not only that Sky and I shared that- that he shared that with me. He also teaches me, cuz I’m horrible at science, so he explains it all.

[00:26:49] So he needs to be my teacher, but, you know, and- and share what works for you. So if something works for, if you are a teacher, works for you all at [00:27:00] school, um, or as a parent or family works with them, share it with one another and especially, you know, I’m thinking of if there’s something, um, if there are different behaviors, one of the things that you might use, share what you do at home that works really well because it might work at school.

[00:27:20] So it’s that sharing with one another. Again, because we’re equal and we value one another, we’ll share. It doesn’t mean it’s always gonna work, but I just thought I’d share this with you. But it’s all in how you do it, right? In your communication that we mentioned earlier in looking at how we communicate to one another, not in a, “Well, I do this at home, this is what you need to do at school”, or vice versa.

[00:27:50] Not that there’s only one way to do everything, and it’s all in how you approach things and how you communicate them. Being honest with one another. [00:28:00] Listen, there is nothing wrong with saying, “I need help.”, on either side. Or, “I don’t know what to do. Could you explain this to me?”

[00:28:10] Um, can, you know, being honest with, you know, when you’re not in agreement, a lot of people, you know, well first, let me tell you, you know, I’d love to stay in what I wanna be all the time, which is Rhonda’s Peace, Love, Happiness, Kindness World, right? That’s not how everything works. Disagreements are good. Disagreements can be a good thing and most people think I’m crazy when I say it. But that means that you are valuing others’ opinions. Everyone is seeing it from a different view.

[00:28:43] You can actually grow from disagreements and have a stronger relationship than you ever did before. And bring solutions to the table, again and respond to one another. I think that is so important because I [00:29:00] know right now, um, I’ve been waiting for several days on a response. Um, and you know, my child is my priority, right?

[00:29:11] And so, um, even- and I understand people are very busy, but take the time to respond to one another because that is going to build a healthy relationship, um, and family engagement. Because if we do not respond, then there really isn’t a relationship there. There’s not that sharing with one another, reaching out to one another.

[00:29:38] Um, and I love that what was shared in the, uh, chat here, and I may have missed a bunch of different things here. So we will check here, “Be open to learn from one another.” Absolutely. And be o- be open that regardless of your role, everybody has strengths and something to offer. And it doesn’t matter who you learn it from. [00:30:00] It can strengthen your relationship.

[00:30:04] Um, and let me tell you something, uh, especially being a family, like there are certain things that you learn that you almost think, and teachers too, that you learn from different experiences, lived experiences, whether it be in the classroom, at home, that you could probably have a degree in that, can anyone else relate, right?

[00:30:27] Because not only do you research, but you learn from lived experience. Nothing can replace lived experience. I could just tell you that. And not only the lived experience, but I have learned so much from my failures, that- that is what’s helped me to be able, um, to not only be stronger, but to be able to work on things better and has taught me a great deal of lessons.

[00:30:53] We- we use this motto in our family cuz we try everything and of course our family, not that you could tell [00:31:00] this does not fit in any type of box, right? (laughs) We are, all of us are special, right? But special in a good way. Um, is that I could pretty much tell you everything we go about and try, we have to adapt it as we go.

[00:31:16] You- and that’s the same thing like when you’re talking about an I E P or- or you are trying to engage one another, family engagement. Your first attempt’s probably not gonna work. It might work a little. Your first time reaching out, you may not get much of a response, but I can promise you, regardless of your road, they’re gonna remember it.

[00:31:41] Especially if it’s something positive you say and share. And it doesn’t have to be a long drawn out- a lot of times we think, “How am I gonna add this to my plate?” Okay, how long does it say- it take to just say, “Hi, I hope you’re doing good, hope all is well. I [00:32:00] hope y’all had a great Thanksgiving.” Take time to build that relationship and make those, you know, it doesn’t matter if it’s in text, email, any way. Share those things, thanking people.

[00:32:12] Be, again, being able to admit when you’re wrong, asking for help, that’s- that’s hard. And I’m gonna tell you because I’m- I’m a very independent person. Not that any of y’all would know this. I’m very independent. It is very hard to ask for help. I don’t think I’m alone in that when I say that many families, because, we, um, we are very resilient and not just families, but schools is, we are very resilient and we are used to having to do things on our own, but we have to not only do these efforts with others, but I’ve found, and maybe age is teaching me, that I have to allow the other in reverse. Does that make sense? I have to allow [00:33:00] people to do this. I have to be open to it.

[00:33:03] Um, and you know that- that’s another one of those self-talks that’s like, okay, people really do care and they really wanna help. But you have to be open to allow it. You have to be open to those relationships. And, we’re all different. We have to- we approach things in different ways. It doesn’t mean one way is better than the other, um, but you’ll share in there what are some things that you find that, um, building, uh, school-family relationships.

[00:33:35] And you’ll notice throughout this I interchange where it might say school-family relationship or family-school relationship. Because it doesn’t matter who you say first. They’re both equal.

[00:33:48] Let’s see. Are there any- [00:34:00] I’m not sure- the same, thank you.

[00:34:07] Let’s see if there’s any I missed here because y’all know I can’t do too many things at once here.

[00:34:18] So as we step through this and- and if there’s anything else you’ll think of, uh, chime in there and put it- put it in, um, the chat or the questions. Um, making sure that you know, we- I’m sorry.

[00:34:40] Kellie Smith: Oh, sorry, rhonda. Uh, Kathy says, “Learn more from failures than successes.”

[00:34:48] Rhonda Logsdon: A hundred percent. And that is, I mean, I tell you what, it- if we could, uh, write a book, because those failures have taught me so much. [00:35:00] Um, and I’ve heard before and I- my brother too has said he’s like, “Fail forward.” Um, and, um, he- he’ll tell me, “Failure’s only failure if you don’t try.” Right?

[00:35:12] And so we know regardless of your role, that our children and youth are our number one, the main- the main goal, the- the one that we, um, are all working towards, um, and trying- this comes with too offering like solutions or trying to problem solve together. It doesn’t mean sometimes we’re afraid to bring it up cuz oh, it may not work.

[00:35:36] Some of the craziest things have been what’s worked so well and actually worked better than what might be the typical thing that you would do. And here’s the wonderful thing, just like every one of our students are different, every one of our families are, and what works with one may not work with the other, but if we’re talking to one [00:36:00] another and going through this, and so having this be your basis for family engagement, if we start here by building the relationship that is, you know, building that partnership is what is going to equal family engagement.

[00:36:18] Ways to embrace, it involve families at all levels. Um, you know, an open door policy. Um, and again, I understand things are crazy and busy, but when I say open door, I mean that there is that comfort level. And someone had brought this up wonderfully in um, sharing here is when you feel comfortable, you are going to be able to build a strong partnership and the relationship is gonna flourish.

[00:36:53] So when I say open door policy, I’m not just saying physically open door. It is that everyone is [00:37:00] comfortable, make time available. Um, I know that- I know you’re probably like , “Well, I have to make time available. Do you know how overbooked I am?” Whether you’re a family or a professional. Um, I understand that and I overbook, but remember, those little things that build up that does not, it will not take hardly no time. It will make a world of difference.

[00:37:24] Share information. A perfect example that I like to use and- and again, this is not about I E Ps or any of that, um, is that, um, making sure that we share any information that we have, and especially for children who may have I E Ps in school. Sharing when you’re gonna go to a meeting, share if it’s an I- or ARC I E P meeting, share the draft with one another.

[00:37:56] Anytime you’re gonna be going into a meeting with one another, make sure [00:38:00] everybody goes in with the same information. That is a strong relationship. It’s only gonna help the meeting go well and also help everyone so that they could come to the table with their strengths so that it- it could be the most successful that it could be, because then in turn, our children will be successful.

[00:38:23] Um, and using the language we all know, because every system, and I just used it. ARC I E P meeting, that Missions and Release Committee Meeting, the, uh, Individualized Education Program, (laughs) I just use them. So making sure everybody knows. And of course we have acronyms and words, you know, and I’m the one- and one thing I ask, ask people if you don’t know, ask.

[00:38:48] And- and when we say that, when you ask, also too, as the person on the other side, don’t take offense when someone asks, [00:39:00] because it’s not that they’re being critical or judgmental. They may be asking so that they understand, not to hold your feet to the fire. And I think we automatically assume the worst first because that’s what we have had to operate and, how society is, is that- that we automatically aren’t as open to when people ask.

[00:39:25] But there most of the time that I have found people ask to understand, but then also how then we can see how we fit into the puzzle and how we can help one another. And help, again, remember what I said, somebody offers to help, they ain’t enough of that going around. (laughs) We need to spread that stuff like wildflowers, y’all.

[00:39:48] Is, um, and plan together. So yes, in the beginning we said, you know, abandon that family engagement is equal to events. Yes, hold events, but make sure [00:40:00] your families have helped plan those events. Just like we may think we know what our child needs, it’s good to talk to our child, uh, or our student to see what they actually want or they need.

[00:40:12] Just like we may have the best-laid intentions, and I’ve seen this over and over with, uh, school events. We may think families want this or we may think this would be good, this is what they need, but we didn’t ask them. And it may not be something that they’re even interested in or it may be something they’re interested in, but in the way that it’s delivered.

[00:40:38] Um, I went one time and it was such a wonderfully planned thing and it was when my son was younger, but I felt like I was going to school to be taught, um, as a parent, and it was very disconnected. It wasn’t- and it wasn’t intentional because everybody there, I adore ’em and helped out at the school. [00:41:00] I know that they meant it well, but I felt like I was going back to school and I needed to sit there and be taught.

[00:41:08] Um, and it wasn’t that it was an equal thing, um, or that we both brought things to the table, right? Um, and really when you do have events that you want to engage families, look at how everybody will benefit. It’s not only as a school, you are providing this to your family, but what are your families gonna be providing you there?

[00:41:36] Not a number that showed up, but take those opportunities to get the help that you need. Not only get the information, but what are things- we totally need to mix it all- mix it all up. Uh, maybe I’ll rename, uh, family-school relationship events. Y’all- y’all will be like, “No, we’re not putting [00:42:00] Rhonda in charge of anything.”

[00:42:01] But look at how when you hold an event, it’s no different than when we started out. What’s the core of- what is the core of family engagement? It’s a relationship. So if you want to think of, even outside of family-school, right? If you are wanting to go spend time with someone that you love dearly, a close friend, family, what is it that you have enjoyed?

[00:42:28] Share in the comments here, what’s something that you’ve enjoyed most? Um, when you- it could even be at Thanksgiving when you all got together. What was something that- that you just really enjoyed and you know, those feelings of like, you know, I’m so glad I came. What are some things that you all, uh, have shared?[00:43:00]

[00:43:05] Conversation? Yes. And I’m not sure if I could tell if there’s others up here. So when you look at that- that was where it went two ways. It’s not, and- and how we worked together to plan it. And- and I chose this picture for this slide. And you all keep chiming in there too, cuz we’ll check back and- and they’ll let me know.

[00:43:30] Um, a lot of times, um, in- in two of the words on here, I almost did not put this picture in here because it said cost and control. But then I thought those are the things that most people think about and all the things here, when I searched up and was trying to find the perfect image, but I thought, you know, the reason I didn’t wanna put it is because we have a negative- I have a negative [00:44:00] experience of people controlling or wanting things, right?

[00:44:04] And if you can’t tell that, I probably have a very controlling personality. (laughs) I have a hard time giving up control. But if in your plan everyone has equal control and ownership, that’s- that’s what you want. Cost, most people think and especially we already know, they is not enough money to do anything and our schools are not funded as they should be and all that, don’t associate cost with family-school partnership for family engagement because you all- the greatest gifts in life are free. Relationships, conversations, just as you had mentioned.

[00:44:55] And sharing with one another. Share your knowledge, learn from one [00:45:00] another. Goals, teamwork, develop. It doesn’t have to cost nothing. And I could tell you, being one of five kids, my mom was the master of, you know, when we were growing up, were- by no means are we rich now, right? (laughsq) We’re not. But we are very blessed.

[00:45:16] Um, and we are just average working folks, right? Um, but we grew up very poor, especially when my twin and I were younger. My mom could make something outta nothing. I mean, she could- the most fabulous meal and she didn’t have, uh, hardly anything. The same with activities, doing different things. Take what you have.

[00:45:43] Um, you don’t have to spend a lot of money. And, um, you know, looking at the- how you can do different things. So don’t let, “Oh, this is gonna cost too much. This is gonna take too much time. [00:46:00] We can’t do this because of this.” Um, figure out a way together of how to do it. Where there’s a will there’s a way, and I may be delusional my whole life, but I always hold out hope for everything.

[00:46:15] Oh, here’s some others of the things that you loved from, um, from in those- those times with one another. “Laughing over old and new stories.” Yes. “Memories and reminiscing.” Those are so important. So those things, having the opportunity to where when you do have an event or something, first of all, everybody’s worked together to plan towards it.

[00:46:41] It doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Um, and really it doesn’t- it could be time. Coming together and building those relationships and looking at, you know, what we share with one another, to where it’s two-way because families have a [00:47:00] lot to bring to the table and take advantage of those events to where it is, because as a family, that makes me feel value. That you want to- to know not only what I would not necessarily do, but how I can contribute. Right?

[00:47:20] And it could be on different levels. It might be an opportunity I find out, yes, with my work schedule, I can’t be there and volunteer, but you know what? I know that the teacher needs paper stapled. They could send it home with my child. I can get all of that done. Any way to pitch in. You don’t have to physically be there to build a strong relationship. You don’t have to physically be there to be engaged. There are all different ways, um, and we all have different ways that work best for us. So learning that about one another.

[00:47:58] This, and you all had [00:48:00] mentioned this earlier, and this goes both ways. Judgment. There can be no place for judgment, right? And we know, listen, we’re all human. We automatically, whether we admit it or not, and you could say you don’t ever do it, but I’ll be the first to tell you I do. We all do, when we don’t even realize, we judge, because we are only seeing it from our view. We have to purposely stop ourself and not only not judge one another, but don’t let the past experiences affect your current relationship.

[00:48:41] These are gonna be key to having successful, um, family-school partnership engagement, um, is that we don’t judge, you know, that, “Oh Lord, here comes that- that woman with them five kids, right?” Or oh, uh, when [00:49:00] as a family going in, Oh, that’s that teacher that just made me so mad from that other day. Okay, we have to stop ourselves.

[00:49:08] Because if we’re thinking that, even if we think we’re really good, we are giving that message across in nonverbal, um, in the way we are. People, listen, you get vibes from people, right? And, you know, so we have to stop ourself. And just because you may have walked a similar journey, nobody has walked the same journey.

[00:49:34] You don’t know what you would do. And- and a lot of things, I- I learned this very early, early on as a mom is, everybody has got an opinion and everybody tells you what they feel that- and I wanna learn from people, right? I do. And so I asked and I went, “Well, what did you do? Or what would you suggest?” But then also too, [00:50:00] everybody’s suggestion of what you need to make sure that you do contradicts the other person.

[00:50:06] I don’t know if this ever happens to you all, regardless if you’re a family or a parent or a teacher, it is, you have to go with what you feel is best and not judge one another for the choices that they make because they’re making what they feel is the best for their child, for their students, um, and really how we look past our experiences, you know, so it doesn’t, uh, affect our current relationships and it could even be with the same person. Um, and you know, just like I said, if the example of I’m like, “Oh my gosh, there’s the- there’s the teacher” and that, you know, I think back to the day, that was a really awful day and that’s the first thing that comes up.

[00:50:51] Well, that’s not fair to that teacher. Um, and so we have to stop ourselves and really look at [00:51:00] how much of a role each of us are playing ourselves, because if in family-school relationships, because if we think we don’t play a part, we do. Even if we don’t realize it, we have played a part in it. So, we need to look at how we approach things, how we communicate, how we build the relationship.

[00:51:24] Cuz it’s not just up to the other person to do it, because that’s not a relationship, right? Um, so we need to- to be able to work together and really come to that and not let judgment play a part in it. Um, because, um, first of all, most people, regardless if you are a family or school, let me tell you, we are doing the best we can to get by every day.

[00:51:53] And I don’t know about you all, but I’m pretty proud of us (laughs) because I’ve had to come to terms with, [00:52:00] okay, you know what, no, I didn’t accomplish wonderful things today. Everybody’s safe, everybody’s fed, everybody’s cared for, and everybody had their needs met. You know what, I have to call that a successful day.

[00:52:16] And you know, so, um, that may not be success to other people, but I think we- we hold- and I hold expectations of- of myself very high. Um, but you know, we have to really look at that.

[00:52:30] So then that brings me to every child, and I know we’re getting close on time. Y’all, I could talk about this forever. I bet y’all are like, “Really?” (laughs)

[00:52:40] So every child needs someone at school to make them a priority. This is going to help family-school relationships, partnerships, the engagement. I don’t care if it’s the teacher, if it’s [00:53:00] the secretary, if it’s the cafeteria staff, if it’s the janitor, if it’s the bus driver. If every child has one person that makes them feel special and makes them a priority, that’s also gonna make the family feel special and valued too. It can’t be replaced.

[00:53:26] Um, and you think, and a lot of times if you’re the school, you may think, “Well, how would the family know?” The family knows. The family knows. Because if there is someone that embraces their child, accepts them, values them, it’s the same with family and families, it’s the same for teachers and school staff.

[00:53:51] If you make it a point, I don’t care who it is in the school, someone that you connect with and you make them [00:54:00] feel special just like they make your child feel special or they make you know, you as the family feel special. They need that just as much. So, in all of this, if we don’t- sometimes I just think we separate stuff too much. And I’m O C D, I like to have things organized, right? But when it comes to this, everybody needs to feel special. Everybody needs to feel like they’re a priority because just like our children, um, our families and schools, there’s not enough good that you hear, right?

[00:54:33] And when you make someone a priority, it is going to build a strong relationship and I mean authentic relationship. Um, and there are people you connect with more so than others. That’s why I say it doesn’t have to be the teacher. It doesn’t have to be anyone else.

[00:54:51] I could tell you it, uh, my brother Grant’s middle school, some of the strongest, um, [00:55:00] and the ones that Grant had the best relationships with was the janitorial staff. And they just in loved him to death and they watched out and they helped one another and Grant made them feel special. Um, and Grant loved them. I- let me tell you the first when we come in, you know, and- and sharing with one another, you know that- that you put them as a priority.

[00:55:27] Um, and- and I understand we all have so much to do. You may have several children, even with one child, y’all (laughs) I still don’t have enough time. But, um, but taking that time to build that. This allows for a stronger relationship all the way around. And you all tell, me, when, um, when you were in school, was there anyone that made you feel special? Um, and if so, who was it [00:56:00] at the school? Was it a teacher? Was it the principal? Was it the counselor?

[00:56:07] My English teacher, my math teacher was in- in middle school. Uh, we, uh, Robin and I had a- a hard time in- in middle and high school, uh, and stuff. Um, but let’s see here. It keeps- but the math teacher, she made- she just made me feel just special and welcome.

[00:56:34] And it- it wasn’t that there’s something, a lot of times we think there’s gotta be something that you do every day. You can make people feel special and it not be something you have to do every day. That you know, that you acknowledge them, that you appreciate them. Um, again, going back to the simple things, huh? (crosstalke)

[00:56:52] Yes?

[00:56:54] Kellie Smith: I’m sorry. I see, uh, someone says their art teacher, uh, someone else [00:57:00] says a teacher, that is why they became a teacher. Um, and then someone else says, “An academics teacher. I was the oldest of five kids also, so she used to take me home so I could stay after to participate because my mom couldn’t come for me.”

[00:57:21] Rhonda Logsdon: See, and I love that you shared that because I, like they just gave me goosebumps (laughs) is, um, you know, the fact of, and a lot of times what would happen is my twin and I, because there was eight- eight years between Grant, nine, then, uh, 10 with the youngest twins. So when Robin and I were able to drive and stuff, we would take and go with Grant and do different things and the school allowed us to where, you know, we would help out and be able to help Grant so he could participate in different stuff.

[00:57:51] And having that openness where they valued everyone, like I felt valued as a sister. Many times you may not find that, [00:58:00] and especially, um, you know, um, just having those opportunities, um, to where everyone- how you make it happen. And- and I’m glad that you shared that because many times you don’t hear about those things, the things that- that deep connection and relationship of how someone made it work so that you could be engaged not only as a student, but family engagement.

[00:58:29] It wasn’t in a- it- it, it left judgment at the door. Your mom wasn’t able to, but you were still able to do it. And I could just only imagine how that made your mom feel as well as not only you, but also the teacher and how that relationship, um, how you worked that out. Because everything is, you know, different in the way that we go about things.

[00:58:59] [00:59:00] So, um, what are gonna be some of the characteristics that you believe that you would find- that you find, uh, in the family-school partnership to you? What are some key things that stand out to you? And I know we’re right at time, so we will be wrapping up though, so I apologize.

[00:59:37] But no judgment. Yes. I think I always keep going back to that because there’s been so much judgment and I’m not talking about, you know, again, this is in the world we live in right now. I think things, especially what we’ve lived through, through the pandemic and all that, (coughs) excuse me, judgment. It’s just been horrible. We’re judging everybody.

[00:59:59] I love [01:00:00] this. Admitting we are all human and make mistakes. Yes, a hundred percent. Looking at that and- and that, you know what, we did it and um, and being able to work towards that because once we see one another as human, just like you said there, we see one another in a relationship manner to where it is, we make mistakes. We bring great things to the table and how we build and build- and make this partnership so our children are successful.

[01:00:35] So I’m gonna leave you all with this, and this is one of the things that I think, you know, and- and you’ve probably, if you’ve been on any of our webinars, you’ve probably saw this a hundred times, but it is so true, we can accomplish great things together for our children.

[01:00:50] Um, and none of us have all the answers, I’m gonna tell you. And- and we’re working through this as we go and adjusting as we go [01:01:00] regardless of your role and how we support one another and how we find solutions and how we build the relationship. Because true family engagement starts with the relationship and then the rest comes from that.

[01:01:16] Um, so let us know if you all can join us tomorrow, because I know we’re right here at time. Uh, we are actually, if you all have any questions, let us know. And I hope this has been helpful. We actually tomorrow have the last, uh, for our celebration for family engagement month, we have our Family-school Partnership, Growing Advocacy, uh, Community and Communication.

[01:01:44] It will be Shasta Hensley from Kentucky Department of Education along with myself, uh, presenting on this tomorrow, one to two Eastern Time on November the 30th. And not to worry if you’re already registered and got the links for this, you’re [01:02:00] registered for it, too. So you can use the same link you used. Um, and you will get an email reminder too, um, for that.

[01:02:10] But I hope y’all can join us. And then also, let us know, and if you could take some time to answer the evaluation, we value your input greatly. I hope this has been helpful to you all. Um, and thank you again for joining us and you have a great day now, byebye.

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