“Partnering with Families” book authored by MSU faculty, students, alumni

May 13, 2019

Faculty, alumni and academic staff collaborated on an expansive new publication that provides help for teachers in interacting with caregivers for students in their classroom.

“Partnering with Families for Student Success” (Teachers College Press, 2019) was published in April, and can be used for future and current teachers as they navigate different family structures and systems of support, including those who may come from various cultural, racial and social backgrounds.

“We need to keep in mind all the different types of parents, guardians and caregivers who are entering our schools,” said lead author, Patricia A. Edwards. A professor of language and literacy in the College of Education, a member of the Reading Hall of Fame and bestselling author, Edwards is an acclaimed leader on working with families in and out of classrooms.

Patricia Edwards headshot
Patricia A. Edwards

She also knows MSU is a leader, which is why she collaborated with her colleagues to develop the book. “MSU is forward thinking. I wondered how could we solve these problems? The book came from those conversations.”

The book examines scenarios written by the co-authors on how they would have (or, in some cases, did) approach 24 unique scenarios in their classrooms. In each of the cases, the modules expand to include questions, worksheets and insight into developing asset-based approaches to consider the underlying needs of caregivers and students.

Modules include developing ways to work with caregivers who don’t respond to teacher requests, or who speak limited or no English. Other modules explore how to work with technology and literacy, and “What to Do When You Have Tried it All.”

Co-authors for the book are:

  • Professor Rand J. Spiro, who helped provide the framework for the modules based on his Cognitive Flexibility Theory, aiming to help teachers build a repertoire of unique responses to varying caregiver, teacher and student situations;
  • Graduate students in the Curriculum, Instruction and Teacher Education (CITE) doctoral program Lisa M. Domke; Marliese R. Peltier and Ann M. Castle, who also serves as the elementary intern coordinator for the Teacher Preparation Program; and
  • Alumna Kristen L. White, assistant professor at Northern Michigan University

“Interns and new teachers need to be more flexible in their thinking, not as judgmental,” said Castle. “This can help them work together to help all students.”

The book will be introduced in courses at MSU and in other teacher preparation programs beginning in fall 2019 as a way to help encourage more students to think about connecting with families sooner and more often in their teaching.

“Teachers need to practice this,” Edwards added. “Teachers are held accountable in their classroom. If you don’t solve the problem, it doesn’t go away. That’s what this book is for; it gives them a process to think through, and adds a human element to teaching.”

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