Volume 18 | April 5, 2021
Founder's Focus: Build Community and Support Asian-Americans
I’m writing with an urgent and important message to Family Engagement Lab’s partners regarding the rise in hate crimes targeting Asian-Americans. The murders of eight people in Atlanta, including six Asian women, punctuates the sharp increase in violent attacks across the country. Asian-Americans across the country are living with a daily fear for our loved ones and for ourselves.

Asian-American families are OUR families, Asian-American children are OUR students, and Asian-American educators are OUR teachers. One out of 10 of FASTalk students identify as Asian, and Chinese is the third most commonly spoken language by our parents, after English and Spanish. Anti-Asian racism is affecting all of us profoundly. 

Many of you have spoken with me about wanting to build stronger and supportive relationships with Asian-American families in your communities. I’m grateful for that because complicity is not an option. A recent youth led study revealed a quarter of Asian-American young adults have been the targets of racism in the past year. In nearly half of cases an adult was present, but only seldom intervened.

Whether there are five Asian-American families in your community or 50,000, there is no more important time than the present to act when the safety and sense of belonging of anyone in our communities is threatened. 

As we approach Asian-American Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May, it is an opportune time to take action in support of our Asian-American community members. Below is a list of resources for your schools and educators to build strength in your school communities to foster safety and belonging for Asian-American students, families, and colleagues during these challenging times. 

Please join us in building safe, supportive, and inclusive communities for Asian-Americans.
Access the full blog post to find the following resources:
  • Information about Anti-Asian Racism
  • Taking Action
  • Supporting Asian-American Colleagues
  • Information for Classroom Educators
  • Tips for Talking with Children

Vidya Sundaram
Co-Founder, Family Engagement Lab
Supporting EL Students and Families to Boost Learning
English learners (ELs) or ELLs (English Language Learners) bring incredible strengths to the classroom through a rich diversity of cultural and linguistic experiences. When educators are equipped with the knowledge and skills to recognize ELs’ strengths and activate their potential they can help lay the foundation for long-term academic, social, and emotional success. 

The Research on Supporting EL Students
While ELs are the most rapidly growing student subgroup, representing nearly 10% of public school students and speaking more than 400 different languages and dialects, over 30 states do not require EL training for general classroom teachers beyond what is required federally. Indeed, the research on teacher preparedness and self-efficacy for teaching ELs paints a bleak picture. Despite a strong likelihood of having an EL student in their classroom, teachers are often without the necessary training and support to meet the needs of a heterogeneous EL student population with unique educational needs related to developing both English language skills and building subject area knowledge. Accordingly, national data reveal many ELs have unmet academic potential, as evidenced by academic assessment results comparing the achievement of ELs to their non-EL peers. 

  • How Teachers and Families Can Partner to Support EL Students’ Success
  • How FASTalk Supports EL Students
  • Additional Resources to Engage Families and Support EL Students
FASTalk Tip: Ensure All Families are Heard and Valued Through Personalized Texts
The unpredictable transitions between instructional models during the pandemic has been particularly difficult to navigate for specific student groups, including English Language Learners (ELLs). Language barriers, coupled with lack of technology access, pose additional challenges for ELL families to stay informed and engaged. 

Through FASTalk, teachers can send a personalized text message to a select group of families — or the entire class — and it will be automatically translated into each parent/caregiver’s home language. It is a quick and easy way to ask families questions about their needs and to engage all families in an accessible way without requiring them to walk into the school building. The 2-way translation feature allows teachers and families to overcome language barriers and ensure that ELL families feel heard and have the support and resources they need to support their child’s learning.

Click here for directions on how to send a group message to multiple families.
Seeded Amid the Many Surprises of COVID Times, Some Unexpected Positives
Paul Reville
Francis Keppel Professor of Practice of Educational Policy and Administration

As first reported in the Harvard Gazette
Professor Paul Reville wrote a paper for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, listing seven transformational changes resulting from the pandemic, including the urgent need to equip every family to be partners with schools in educating the children. Like internet access, family engagement was once “nice to have,” but now it’s essential to have.
“Family engagement, as mentioned, is another transformative idea in education. As a result of this pandemic, families are the principal educators of their children, whether they want to be or not, whether they’re available and capable or not. The task is to figure out how to make that family engagement a permanent part of the architecture of schools, to build a real family partnership for raising and caring about young people.”
In Case You Missed It
If you were unable to join us during GLR Learning Tuesdays webinar — Parents Eager to Address Learning Loss: Lessons From the Field — or would like to share what you learned with others, links to all of the materials are available.

During the webinar, an esteemed panel, led by Family Engagement Lab, discussed what we are learning from families, including how families want to be engaged and embraced as essential partners and co-producers of good outcomes for their children. This session featured lessons learned from school closures and their effect on parent-teacher collaboration; support for at-home learning moving forward; insights from diverse school communities from coast to coast; and recommended approaches to centering families in learning.

All archived materials from this webinar are available in the Partner Webinar collection on the CGLR Community Learning for Impact and Improvement Platform, or CLIP, at clipglr.org. Resources from all webinars are a part of the GLR Learning Tuesdays channel, also on CLIP. If you are not already a member of CLIP, you will need to sign up — for free — on CLIP to access these materials.
Our Learning Series Has a New Look!
We'd like to hear from you. Contact felcommunications@familyengagementlab.org to share your feedback.
Contact Us
Have questions? Email us at felcommunications@fastalk.org.
Don't forget to follow us on social media for the latest tools and resources to support family engagement.