After the Sweatlodge
After the Sweatlodge, we can change from our wet clothes into dry ones. Women
will still need to be wearing a long skirt that covers your legs. We will then sit
together, men on one side, women on the other, and share the food that has been
contributed. The food moves around the circle and you are invited to share in it. You
must take some of everything that comes around. If you have a plastic container, you
can put food in there that you do not want or cannot eat at that time. You must eat it
later or dispose of it in a “good way.” (We will talk about what this means.) Vernon
will do more teaching before we begin. He’s a great person and a wonderful teacher.
We are very welcome to be there as learners.
INTRODUCING ENGAGING PARENTS IN TEACHING AND LEARNING
Just as parent engagement has been the central focus of my program of research
throughout my academic career, I saw it as the central focus in my unfolding curriculum
of parents. While the terms “parent involvement” and “parent engagement” are
often used interchangeably in the literature in this field, I believe they represent two
very different conceptualizations. My intention in the course Engaging Parents in
Teaching and Learning was to differentiate these conceptualizations, philosophically,
pedagogically, and practically.
In research with Claudia Ruitenberg and a team of co-researchers at Princess
Alexandra Community School in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, we inquired into the
different ways in which parents are positioned on a school landscape. As a result
of this inquiry, we distinguished the conceptualizations of parent involvement and
parent engagement as follows:
Benson (1999) notes that “‘involvement’ comes from the Latin, ‘involvere,’
which means ‘to roll into’ and by extension implies wrapping up or enveloping
parents somehow into the system” (p. 48). Beare (1993) adds that “the
implication in the word is that the person ‘involved’ is co-opted, brought into
the act by another party” (p. 207, as cited in Benson, 1999, p. 48). Parents who
are “involved” serve the school’s agenda by doing the things educators ask or
expect them to do – volunteering at school, parenting in positive ways, and
supporting and assisting their children at home with their schoolwork – while
knowledge, voice and decision-making continue to rest with the educators.
…“Engagement,” in comparison to involvement, comes from en, meaning
“make,” and gage, meaning “pledge” – to make a pledge (Harper, 2001), to make
a moral commitment (Sykes, 1976, p. 343). The word engagement is further
defined as “contact by fitting together,…the meshing of gears” (Engagement).
The implication is that the person ‘engaged’ is an integral and essential part of
PLANNING AND LIVING A CURRICULUM OF PARENTS
a process, brought into the act because of care and commitment. By extension,
engagement implies enabling parents to take their place alongside educators
in the schooling of their children, fitting together their knowledge of children,
of teaching and learning, with teachers’ knowledge. With parent engagement,
possibilities are created for the structure of schooling to be flattened, power and
authority to be shared by educators and parents, and the agenda being served to
be mutually determined and mutually beneficial. (Pushor & Ruitenberg, 2005,
The central purpose of the course, Engaging Parents in Teaching and Learning,
was to invite students to develop a deep understanding of parent engagement and of
the multiple attributes that delineate parent engagement from parent involvement.
Providing students with a deliberate selection of readings and experiences, I expected
that they would begin to develop a repertoire of strategies through which they could
engage parents in their child’s teaching and learning.
Critical to the conceptualization of parent engagement is a belief that parents hold
knowledge of children, and of teaching and learning, and a belief that all parents
have strengths. Because the examination of students’ beliefs and assumptions about
parents and families was central in Re/Presenting Families in Schools, the two
courses worked well as complementary offerings. For those who chose to take both
courses, the exploration of families in the morning class deepened and facilitated
students’ understandings of the significance of parent knowledge, both in regard to
student learning and in regard to parent engagement.
ENGAGING PARENTS IN TEACHING AND LEARNING
A one-way relationship isn’t much of a relationship at all. Limiting ourselves to
telling families what we want or what they should do does not take advantage
of the rich experiences and knowledge that every family brings with them to
their children’s education. Nor does it respond to what all families need and
want from schools to create partnerships that effectively support children’s
Graue & Hawkins, in Miller Marsh & Turner-Vorbeck, 2010, p. 123)
The term “parent engagement” represents a conceptualization of the positioning of
parents in relation to school landscapes as integral and essential to processes of
schooling. You will learn about aspects of parent engagement which differentiate
it from involvement and which create opportunities for parents to take their place
alongside educators in the schooling of their children, fitting together their knowledge
of children, teaching and learning, with teachers’ knowledge.
This course is designed to enhance your understanding of what parent engagement is
– and is not, conditions which invite engagement, the complexities and multiplicity
inherent within it, and possibilities within your own curriculum-making for working
alongside parents in respectful, caring, and committed ways. In this course, you will:
• differentiate between communication with parents, parent involvement, parent
engagement, and parent leadership,
• explore, affirm, and/or challenge your beliefs and assumptions about parents,
• consider contextual factors which invite or prevent authentic parent engagement,
• re-conceptualize yourself as a “guest host” on school/childcare landscapes,
• recognize the depth and breadth of parent engagement in out of school places,
• envision ways to connect parents with the school, connect parents with parents,
and connect yourself with homes and the community,
• learn ways to utilize the unique knowledge, culture, rhythm, and context of each
family in your curriculum-making and decision-making,
• explore practices which center the work of school community councils on student
learning and other educational outcomes,
• realize the reciprocal benefits of parent engagement for students, parents,
communities, and staff in schools,
• consider the place of schooling in the education of children.
Allen, J. (2007). Creating welcoming schools: A practical guide to home-school
partnerships with diverse families. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Henderson, A.T., Mapp, K.L., Johnson, V.R. & Davies, D. (2007). Beyond the bake
sale: The essential guide to family-school partnerships New York, NY: The New
Please purchase, from a venue of your choosing, one of the following novels. You
will participate in a book club with colleagues who make the same novel selection.
• Alexie, S. (2007). The absolutely true diary of a part-time Indian. NY: Little,
Brown & Company.
• Kapur, M. (2006). Home. India: Random House.
• Toews, M. (2008). The flying Troutmans. Toronto, ON: Vintage Canada.
PROPOSED CLASS SCHEDULE
Class 1: What is “parent engagement”? (Monday, July 19th, 1–3:50 p.m.)
• communication, involvement, engagement, leadership
PLANNING AND LIVING A CURRICULUM OF PARENTS
• beliefs and assumptions about parents
• attributes of engagement
1. Chapter 1 Beyond the Bake Sale: Introduction
2. Chapter 2 Beyond the Bake Sale: What is a family-school partnership supposed
to look like?
3. Foreword and Introduction Creating Welcoming Schools: pp. ix–x, 1–10.
4. Pushor, D., Ruitenberg, C., with co-researchers from Princess Alexandra
5. (2005, November). Parent engagement and leadership. Research report, project
#134, Dr. Stirling McDowell Foundation for Research into Teaching, Saskatoon,
SK, 79 pp. http://www.mcdowellfoundation.ca/main_mcdowell/projects/research_
rep/134_parent_engagement.pdf. Please read pp. 1–34.
Optional Reading: On Reserve:
Lopez, G.R. & Stoelting. (2010). Disarticulating parent involvement in Latino-
impacted schools in the Midwest. In M. Miller Marsh & T. Turner-Vorbeck (Eds),
(Mis)understanding families: Learning from real families in our schools. New
York, NY: Teachers College Press, pp. 19–36.
Class 2: Educators as “guest hosts” (Tuesday, July 20th, 1–3:50 p.m.)
• principles of parent/community engagement
• what does it mean to be a guest in a school community?
• what does it mean to be a host in a school community?
• Carole Courtney, SWITCH coordinator, 3 – 4 pm. An introduction to SWITCH
• Health disparities in Saskatoon
1. Chapter 1 Creating Welcoming Schools: Exploring memories of school.
2. Chapter 3 Beyond the Bake Sale: Ready, Set, Go!
3. Pushor, D. (2007, Fall). Welcoming parents: Educators as guest hosts on school
landscapes. Education Canada, 47, (4), 6–11.
4. Saskatchewan Learning. (2004). Building communities of hope: Effective
practices for meeting the diverse learning needs of children and youth. Community
schools policy and conceptual framework. Regina, SK: Author. http://www.
5. Please read Section III Policy, Vision, Goals, Principles, and Effective Practices,
6. Please peruse the Student Wellness Initiative Toward Community Health
(SWITCH) website: www.switch.usask.ca
7. Lemstra, M. & Neudorf, C. (2007). Health disparity in Saskatoon: Analysis to
intervention. Saskatoon Health Region, Saskatoon, SK. http://www.uphn.ca/doc/
Class 3: Living as a guest (Wednesday, July 21st, 1–3:50 p.m.)
Meet at King Edward School at 1 pm. 721 Avenue K South
• participation in a core community walk led by Lori Pulai, Community School
• reflecting on what was learned and the implications of the learning
• exploring the Reggio Emilia project, Reggio Tutta: A guide to the city by the children
• generating other ways to be a guest in a school community
1. Chapter 2 Creating Welcoming Schools: Writing cultural memoirs.
2. Chapter 4 Creating Welcoming Schools: Developing photography and other
avenues to learning with families.
Class 4: SWITCH/Book Club (Wednesday, July 21st)
• Half the class will work an evening shift at SWITCH and debrief (This group will
be located at the SWITCH Clinic from 5–9 pm)
• What do we learn about parents/families/communities when we go off the school
• How might we use what we learn?
• How will this redefine our work in relation with parents, families and children?
• Half the class will begin their book club(s) (Room 2001 or a location of the book
club’s choice, 7–9 p.m.)
• Notions of schooling, the role of teachers, the role of parents, parent engagement,
home/school relations will be examined in the context of a particular work of fiction.
• Please have read approximately half of your novel by this date.
Class 5: Home Visits (Thursday, July 22nd, 1–3:50 p.m.)
Guest Presenter Laureen Sawatsky, Community School Coordinator
• purposes and possible approaches
• relationship-building and reciprocity
• procedural and safety considerations
• dis/positioning and teacher identity
1. Chapter 3 Creating Welcoming Schools: Learning with and from families.
2. Pushor, D. & Murphy, B. (2004, Fall). Parent marginalization, marginalized
parents: Creating a place for parents on the school landscape. Alberta Journal of
Educational Research, 50(3), 221–235.
Class 6: Living as a host (Friday, July 23rd, 1–3:50 p.m.)
• welcoming and hospitality
• trust and relationships
• practices of possibility
PLANNING AND LIVING A CURRICULUM OF PARENTS
1. Chapter 4 Beyond the Bake Sale: Developing relationships.
2. Pushor, D., Ruitenberg, C., with co-researchers from Princess Alexandra
Community School. (2005, November). Parent engagement and leadership.
Research report, project #134, Dr. Stirling McDowell Foundation for Research
into Teaching, Saskatoon, SK, 79 pp. http://www.mcdowellfoundation.ca/
main_mcdowell/projects/research_rep/134_parent_engagement.pdf. Please read
Class 7: Connecting parents with parents (Monday, July 26th, 1–3:50 p.m.)
• making space in schools for parents
• creating webs of support and relationship
• considering the strength of numbers
1. Brown, J. (2010, Winter). Parents building communities in schools. Voices in
Urban Education, 26, 45–53. http://www.annenberginstitute.org/VUE/wp-content/
Class 8: SWITCH/Book Club (Monday, July 26th – Evening)
• reversed roles to Class 4
Class 9: Rethinking Practice (Tuesday, July 27th, 1–3:50 p.m.)
• “ask them” what they want/need/hope for
• plan together
• re-imagine such taken-for-granted school events such as Meet the Teacher Night,
K Orientation, Parent Nights, Family Fridays considering the concept of authentic
1. Chapter 5 Creating Welcoming Schools: Engaging in genuine dialogue.
2. Chapter 6 Creating Welcoming Schools: Inviting dialogue at the conference table.
3. Chapter 7 Creating Welcoming Schools: Creating dialogue throughout the year.
4. Pushor, D. (2010). Are school doing enough to learn about families? In M. Miller
Marsh & T. Turner-Vorbeck (Eds), (Mis)understanding families: Learning from
real families in our schools. New York, NY: Teachers College Press, pp. 4–16.
Class 10: School Community Councils (Wednesday, July 28th, 1–3:50 p.m.)
Co-Facilitator Donnalee Weinmaster, Superintendent, Saskatoon Public Schools
• legislation, intentions, mandate
• parent engagement in the analysis of student achievement results
• parent engagement in the development of continuous improvement plans
• processes and considerations
1. Chapter 8 Beyond the Bake Sale: Sharing power.
2. School Community Councils: A Handbook for School Community Councils and
Principals. Please read Section 1.2 Purpose and Vision, pp. 3–6. http://www.
Class 11: Book Club Exchanges/Parent Engagement in Teaching and Learning
(Thursday, July 29th, 1–3:50 p.m.)
• learning from the research
• using parent knowledge
• maintaining parents’ positioning as parents
• honoring parents’ engagement in out of school places
• side by side planning
1. Chapter 5 Beyond the Bake Sale: Linking to learning.
2. Chapter 6 Beyond the Bake Sale: Addressing differences.
3. Chapter 8 Creating Welcoming Schools: Engaging families.
4. Chapter 9 Creating Welcoming Schools: Engaging families in classroom projects.
5. Chapter 10 Creating Welcoming Schools: Collaborating for a more just society.
6. On Reserve: Pushor, D. (2010, April). “Parent engagement in mathematics is
just not possible.” Or is it? Vinculum: Journal of the Saskatchewan Mathematics
Teachers’ Society, 2(1), 20–32
Class 12: Rethinking Practice – Moving to Action (Friday, July 30th, 1–3:50 p.m.)
• class time to work, individually and collaboratively, on your “rethinking practice”
• determine what practice you wish to interrogate
• attend to the beliefs and assumptions which underlie it, the positioning of
parents within it, who plans it, establishes the agenda, facilitates it, and what the
outcome(s) of the event are
• together with colleagues, begin to reconsider and re-imagine/re-plan the event in
a way that opens spaces for parents to be authentically engaged and positioned
with educators in side by side ways
Class 13: Parent Engagement in Teaching and Learning/Potluck Lunch with
Parent/Teacher Conversation Groups (Saturday, July 31st 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.)
• exchanging synthesized notions related to parents and parent engagement which
arose in your book club conversations
• a reciprocal exchange of stories, thoughts, feelings and ideas with parents, in
relation over lunch.
PLANNING AND LIVING A CURRICULUM OF PARENTS
Book Club Reflections
The purpose of the book club is to encourage you to extend theoretical/conceptual
ideas around parents and schools through the use of fiction. How can the characters,
actions, ideas enable you to re-imagine or re-conceptualize how parents and teachers
engage with one another and within schools/childcare centers? How do the messages
and the underlying theme(s) of the novel offer something to the topic of parent
engagement? By using fiction in an academic setting, possibilities are created for
you to see the familiarity and taken-for-grantedness of the landscape of schools/
childcare centers in new and different ways.
Class time will be allotted for book clubs to get together to discuss their latest
reading in the novel, and relate it to ideas discussed in class regarding the engagement
of parents in education. The book club will generate two assignments:
(a) Midpoint Reflection
This is an individually written reflection. You are asked to reflect on and connect
the novel’s content with concepts and/or theories discussed in the course. This
could be written in prose (maximum 5 pages) or in another creative format.
(b) Final Book Club Reflection and Presentation
In the final class, book clubs will present a collective reflection on the novel which
links it to practices, issues, or compelling questions regarding the engagement
of parents in childcare, schooling, and education. In this oral presentation, book
clubs will provide an overview of the novel, but focus primarily on linking the
course content, characters, etc. of the novel to parents, childcare, schooling,
and education. This assignment is designed with a high degree of flexibility,
and book clubs are encouraged to be creative and innovative with how the
novel is presented and related to the course. The purpose of the presentation is
to generate rich discussions about how popular literature can spark ideas and
inform our thinking in our academic and professional lives.
You will examine a typical practice in your current school or childcare context
in which parents and teachers/childcare providers interact. Such practices could
• Meet the Teacher Night
• Pre-Kindergarten/Kindergarten orientation
• Family Fridays
• Open house, parent meeting, curriculum night
• Parent/Teacher conferences.
In light of course readings, discussions, and activities, you will interrogate this
practice, attending to the beliefs and assumptions which underlie it, the positioning
Documents you may be interested
Documents you may be interested