Families as Faculty: Collaboration for Inclusive and Culturally Competent Teacher Preparation

Research indicates the value of involving families in teacher preparation to improve their communication and collaboration skills leading to children’s academic and social outcomes. This session describes a multi-purposed project between a family community agency and two urban universities focusing on inclusive, culturally competent teacher preparation.  Initial efforts to establish the collaboration and preliminary findings that impact both the families and the students are presented.   a) Summarize the importance of and need for collaboration with culturally and linguistically diverse families in teacher preparation, especially as related to awareness, knowledge, and skills for inclusive education and cultural competence.  In her review of the literature concerning CLD families, Harry (2008) concludes, “Barriers to the implementation of ideal practices include deficit views of CLD families, cross-cultural misunderstandings related to the meaning of disability, differential values in setting goals for individuals with disabilities, and culturally based differences in caregivers’ views of their roles” (Harry, 2008, p.372).  This project reflects purposeful, directed efforts to address these gaps by adding a focus on the actual communication process with culturally and linguistically diverse families to the teacher preparation process. Central to this project is the notion that all stakeholders are fundamentally equal, thus families enact the roles of faculty and researcher rather than the traditional roles of subject and participant.  b) Identify facilitators of and barriers to collaboration between universities and family community agencies in teacher preparation.  Initial strategies to overcome barriers are discussed.  c) Describe how pre-service teachers, school counselors, and social workers learn about the individual experiences of people with disabilities in culturally and linguistically diverse families through the use of portraiture research (Lawrence-Lightfoot, 2005).  Preliminary findings impacting both the college students and the families from the past school year will be shared.  Families are involved at all levels of this iterative research process.