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The three lead organizers of the FCMN, as well as a number of community organization leaders, devoted many hours to co-designing, co-planning, co-facilitating, and reflecting upon the increasing number and type of events with the core group of three university teacher educators.
Through the many social connections of the FCMN, preservice teachers met multiple community leaders from all over the city.
This list is from a two-page handout generated by the Family and Community Mentor Network (FCMN) leadership and the four partnering university-based teacher educators, and used in programmatic as well as promotional materials.
Because Mountain City's teacher education program places TCs in schools throughout the city and in several nearby districts, and because CTS faculty/instructors recognize that teacher-family-community relationships differ depending on context, FCMN leaders organized small group discussions around issues of concern to candidates for each of the four school placement regions.
The instructors of the field-seminar and the leaders of the FCMN also tried to make curricular connections with other courses.
Also in ELTEP, the "Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Teaching" and the "Classroom Management" courses each included a class session that FCMN helped to organize: "Talking About Race and Difference With Children" and "Race, Discipline and Equity in the Classroom: Community Perspectives." In addition, the "Differentiated Instruction" course hosted a family panel organized by FCMN that involved multicultural family members talking with TCs about learning disabilities and instructional accommodations.
This work also caused tensions within the programs, as some TCs and teacher educators questioned the qualifications, purpose, and extent of FCMN's participation in teacher preparation.
Consistent with Waller's (1932) assertion, and based on either their own experiences or what they heard from others, several case study and focus group interviewees came into the teacher education program with the belief that parents and teachers were "natural enemies." This belief shifted as a direct result of the CTS work, especially the structured interactions with FCMN mentors.
Importantly, in this interview conducted near the end of the program, the TC used the very language at the heart of the first FCMN panel of the year: that parents and families have "hopes and dreams" for their children that teachers need to know.
The "FCMN Family Panel: Hopes and Dreams" encouraged TCs to consider relationships with families and students as a necessary dimension of equitable instruction.
The initial family panel, the geographically based conversations with FCMN mentors, and the FCMN-organized session titled "Talking About Race and Difference With Children" placed the practice of teacher-family communication in a socio-historical context marked by ethno-racial and social class distrust.
Importantly, FCMN mentors and CTS instructors discussed teacher-family communication as something that is most effective when it is frequent and its content varied.
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