Family & Community Engagement Conference, 2019

This conference is sort of the capstone
to the year for many of us family engagement personnel. The opportunity to
meet with other leaders and find out what folks are doing in their cities, you
get the chance to see what other folks are doing, and really take their best
practices and meld them with your best practices and come up with something
even better, so it’s been great. When you come here, you’ve got 1,200 plus people doing
the same thing, rooting you on, helping you. We collaborate, we talk about
what we’re doing, we share openly and that’s very meaningful. And the
conference, of course, never disappoints. It never disappoints, always meaningful,
impactful, there’s always something to learn. I’ve got a wealth of information
to take back to my district. I was very, very pleased. When you are in the work of
family and community engagement, it can sometimes be isolating, so coming
together and listening and learning from each other is extremely valuable. When we are able to get
together in this convening every year, it is like a big family reunion. It’s really
exciting, we get to learn from each other, really commune and hear from some really,
really incredible speakers. Good afternoon everyone! Families and educators are coming together. Are you listening when families of color come in and say,
“This thing is happening, something don’t seem right.” The room and the energy was
amazing, it really feels like folks are coming into this space really hungry for
deeper answers on how and why to engage families. The panel was amazing, listening
to the different perspectives, being able to take something back to my own
organization and my own work. Ask the parents: what are their hopes and dreams
for their children? I’m living family engagement everyday with my job. My
wheels were turning throughout all the workshops, you know, trying to figure
out how I can implement something, or how this would apply to our schools. I’m
coming back with a lot of good information. There are so many things
that my co-workers and I have been talking about that we’re gonna bring
back. It’s actually been really informational.
The workshop that we did about home visiting and creating those
relationships that aren’t always negative was really important. How one
teacher can make a difference between student graduating or not, it was really
inspiring. Just being open to that communication and knowing what’s really
going on in their lives. I got to connect with a lot of people from around the country that do things a little bit differently, so it’s good to get their input and see
what they’re doing in other places. I was able to attend in 2018 in Cleveland, and
I learn so much every year about how important engagement is, but also just
how unique the experience can be from school to school, from family to family. How do we welcome in families? How do we support families to be part of their
children’s education? So, until we change the system to value
family engagement and put it as a must have, not a nice-to-have, we’re going to be
having these same conversations. This conference has been amazing: the
networking, the information, the data, just everything, I was awestruck.

Michael Martin

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