Opening the eyes of teachers to not only teach but to connect with their students and families on an emotional level, was the focus of a training class.
The training was conducted by Education Consultant, Kim Hunt of Dallas, Texas at the Webster Parish School Board office Wednesday, May 15.
Hunt has owned a consulting business – Kim Kares, LLC – for the past three years and has six years of experience.
"I help administrators reach families and connect with families in an effort to increase student achievement," Hunt said. "Our ultimate goal is to have more families involved – to have kids ready for the work force and college."
Hunt's instructional focus during the morning session was on professionalism and doing what is best for the children while keeping out any personal opinions a teacher or staff may have regarding a child's situation.
In addition, she spent time showing teachers and staff how a child or parent may feel with situations they may be facing.
"An activity engaged the teachers and personnel called, 'It makes me mad when..,' to show them the effects of emotions if they are held in," she said. "The teachers and personnel held and shook a soda can while explaining what made them mad."
Hunt asked the group if they were ready to open the soda can after everyone had their turn. Knowing the can would explode, they urged her not to open it.
"If I open it right now, who will get it (the spewed liquid) first? Will it get on the closest person to me?" Hunt asked. "What I want you guys to realize is that if you keep emotions in, then when you let it out, it will affect everybody. I want us to remember when we are working with families, the value of talking with them about emotions and communications. This is an activity that you can take back and use it with your families or your children in your classroom."
Hunt said any topic can be used.
During the second half of the day, strategic planning was discussed.
"They (schools) will have a year of planned events for the upcoming school year to get families to come out," she said. "They will have topics that families will benefit from – homework, bullying and communication."
"We want something ongoing so that parents know that we are predictable and they come more often," Hunt continued. "We will have a parent evaluation tool so that we can see where the growth lies and talk about the needs assessment to make sure we are tapping into what those families' resources are."
Hunt said her goal was for the children to be life-long learners. In addition, she said the focus has transitioned from parental involvement to family engagement.
"If you don't get a chance to know who these families are, you can't meet their needs and make unfair assumptions and that child will still fall through the cracks and by the wayside," she said. "If they trust you, then they will know that you will take care of their babies."
Under federal requirements, it is mandated that a family engagement program is in place if the school district receives Title I funds.