Building school-home partnerships involves families and teachers sharing resources, responsibilities, and decision-making roles in an effort to comprehensively address the needs of students. Positive school-home relationships helps to ensure that students with disabilities and their families are considered valued members in the school and that their voices are heard. Dissemination of this virtual curriculum encapsulates the spirit of “Be the Future” 2014 TASH Conference.
1. Pre-service teachers can learn to broaden their perspective by listen to families’ stories, to form empathy and understanding, and to gain insight into the importance of communication and collaboration with families. For teacher candidates, this opportunity of listening to families offered insight into the lives of students they teach and the potential for a transformational experience in which to review and adjust their own perceptions. At a critical time in their teacher preparation program, teacher candidates are provided the opportunity to gain a better understanding and appreciation of the joys as well as the dynamics of raising a child with a disability.
2. Instructors involved in teacher training programs are provided a virtual curriculum and an innovative approach so that they may be better able to prepare teacher candidates to build collaborative partnerships with families. Virtual access to the videotapes of the family visits serves as a vehicle to ensure longevity of the opportunity to learn from the stories that these families told.
3. Parents and their families are provided the opportunity to share their stories about their experiences of raising a child with a disability. The stories contained in the virtual curriculum that families tell about their lives reveal how they think about themselves as families, how they interpreted and gave meaning to events that had happened in their lives, and how their perspectives were shared and passed on within their families.
Margo Collier, Erin Jarry, Brigid Ovitt, Juilette Romero Benavidez, and Laura Hirrel