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Citation:Schmidt, P. R. (2000). Teachers connecting and communicating with families for literacy development. National Reading Conference Yearbook, 49, 194-208.

The author attempts to demonstrate how a few teachers successfully initiated communication with families from minority backgrounds. As a result of the communication strategies they employed, the teachers and families gained understanding of each othersÕ perspectives, and students' involvement in literacy activities significantly increased. Specifically, the communication strategy they used is known as the ABCÕs Model [from ABCÕs of Cultural Understanding and Communication (Schmidt, 1998)]. The model creates opportunities for cross-cultural comparisons of similarities and differences through the sharing of life stories. The subsequent reflection of teachers and families led to a modification of practice and the improved design of communication strategies. The study involved five teacher volunteers who each selected one challenging studentÕs family to work with. The researcher collected data through phone calls, letters, meetings, home visits, and teacher journals, which were then coded individually between the researcher and each teacher. The researcher concluded that families must have collaborative relationships with teachers in an atmosphere of mutual respect so their students can have optimal opportunities for literacy development. Though the small sample size and short term data collection period keep us from generalizing the results to other settings, teachers interested in gaining understanding of students and families from backgrounds different from their own may learn some promising strategies in this study.

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