Hosting a family night for your immigrant and English learner families is a great way to start building connections. Here is a checklist of the five goals you can use to help evaluate the effectiveness of your events.
I want to talk to you a little bit about setting goals for your English learner and immigrant family nights or other events. But first, I must say a little caveat. Good family engagement is not really about one-time events. It has more to do with building relationships. That said, sometimes English learner family nights can be good way to help build those relationships.
Ok so, hopefully you’re not the only one interested in putting on such an event. You want to pull together a planning team. In addition to the English learner teacher, you might have a parent liaison, classroom teacher, reading coach, counselor – whoever is interested! And hopefully your planning committee includes a parent or two. Because you don’t want to plan an event around what YOU think English learner parents need to know. We want this to be about what your English learner parents feel they most need in order to support their student.
Your committee’s first main task is to decide on the goals and purpose of your English learner family night. In our course Immigrant family and community engagement in schools we talk about the “4 C’s” from a framework called the Dual Capacity Building Framework. The 4 C’s have to do with what we hope our family engagement event or initiative increases in our families. So here are the 4 C’s. Are we increasing families’:
1) their capabilities (like skills and knowledge)
2) their connections (networks)
3) their cognition (shifts in beliefs and values)
4) their confidence (self-efficacy)
When it comes to goal-setting and looking at outcomes, sometimes it’s tempting to try and make the astronomical leap from showing that a few English learner family nights directly helped students’ test scores, but that’s too big of a leap for now. We usually have short-term, medium-term, and long term goals. At this point, we can just start with short-term goals or anticipated outcomes. Short-term outcomes usually focus on changes in an individual’s skills, attitudes, or knowledge, which fits perfectly with the 4 C’s.
I’ll mention 2 sample goals now and then provide a few more in the download that accompanies this video.
Feel free to pick 2 or 3 of the goals in the download and just choose realistic percentages for your setting. Then, after setting your goals, you’ll want to think through all the other details related to planning your English learner family night. You’ll want to think about the outreach, the logistics such as arranging interpreters, and so on. If that sounds stressful to you, no worries. We have a tried and true process and checklist you can follow! We cover that and so many other great practices in our upcoming course Immigrant family and community engagement in schools!
I hope you will join us.