H4

H4-Honor Family/Community Involvement in the Learning Process [1]. There is so much to learn from the people and the places that lie outside the walls of a school. I view this principle as seeking opportunities for students to engage with their families and communities, resulting in a wholesome learning experience [1]. For my Introduction to Education course, I was required to complete twenty hours of service learning in the field of education. I chose fulfill this requirement at John Rogers Elementary, and spent my time assisting in a first grade classroom, helping both the students and the teacher. Now that I am finished with my time there, I can reflect on my experience, and how it connects to this HOPE principle.

Family Involvement. The classroom that I was in did an excellent job implementing this standard into their educational practices. During my experience, I was lucky enough to observe multiple occurrences of both family and community involvement. My first example of this involves the parents of students as active aids in the classroom. Almost every time I visited, there would be one or even two parents present in class, lending a helping hand. After doing some research, I came across an interesting piece of information [2]:

“In a comprehensive review of research on parent involvement, Henderson and Berla (2002) found compelling evidence that parent involvement improves student achievement. Parent involvement is also associated with improvements in students’ attendance and social behavior” (Banks & Banks, 2013, p. 332).

I personally noticed that students were more on task while parent visitors were helping in the classroom (especially the child of the parent helper!). The piece of evidence above connects to the standard of H4 by demonstrating the impact that family involvement has in the classroom [3]. Classrooms who utilize the opportunity to have parental aids will not only benefit the students, but the teacher as well. Working in a classroom that involves parent helpers has helped me see just how much the principle of H4 can affect the learning process [4].

Community Involvement. My next example focuses on community involvement through helping those in need and learning the importance of giving back. During one visit, I listened to the teacher explain UNICEF boxes to her students. This is a popular activity for elementary schools to do on Halloween, and all of John Rogers was participating. The idea is to give each child a UNICEF box to carry with them while they go trick-or-treating. Instead of asking for candy, students will ask for a donation that then goes to children in need around the world. Below is a picture of the UNICEF box that the students received [2].

unicefbox

“Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF”

This was a great way to get students to go out into their community, and to give them a greater purpose on this night other than simply collecting candy. I see this connecting to the HOPE standard of H4 because not only are they learning about the impact they can make by giving back, but they are actively involving their community in this learning process [3]. I was able to be in the classroom both when they were handed the UNICEF boxes, and when they returned them. Watching the kids get so excited about the money they had raised was really neat, and I think one reason why this is so popular in schools is because it is something that almost everyone can do. Through this experience, I’ve learned about ways that schools incorporate this HOPE principle by using UNICEF boxes, and I’ve witnessed how involving students’ communities really gets them excited about learning and giving back [4].

I have learned a lot through my experience working with this classroom, most of which I will take with me in my career as an educator. After observing the ways that the teacher and the school involves the families and communities of the students, it is clear to me that it makes a big difference, and it is something that I strive to do in the future [5]. Exploring alternate ways to learn outside of the classroom can add an entirely new and exciting element to the learning process. My goal is to continue my research on this topic, so I can collect even more ideas for the future [6]. Whether this be through online resources, textbooks, or spending more time in other classrooms, I hope to gain new insights on other ways that I can implement this HOPE principle [6]. Overall, this experience was reassuring for me, and it helped me become even more excited for teaching, rather than scare me away from it. In light of the H4 principle, I end with a passage:

“Educators lose an important voice for school improvement when parents and community groups are not involved in schools. They can give teachers unique and important views of their students as well as help the school garner resources that are available in the community” (Banks & Banks, 2013, p. 332).

References

Banks, J., & Banks, C. (2013). Communities, Families, and Educators Working Together for School Improvement. In Multicultural Education: Issues and Perspectives (8th ed., p. 332). John Wiley & Sons.

Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF. (n.d.). Retrieved November 16, 2014, from http://www.unicefusa.org/mission/usa/trick-or-treat

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