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The Harvard Family Research Project separated from the Harvard Graduate School of Education to become the Global Family Research Project as of January 1, 2017. It is no longer affiliated with Harvard University.

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From our Survey of FINE Newsletter Readers, we learned that professional development is a topic of interest for many of you. In fact, professional development was one of the top three choices for future FINE Newsletter topics for our 893 survey respondents. Of the survey results related to respondents’ primary role within their organizations, “professional development provider/trainer” was the second-most-selected role.

Dear FINE Members,

In this issue of the FINE Newsletter, we highlight new and innovative approaches to professional development in the area of family engagement. We head into classrooms and scan the Web to look at how college/university faculty and professional development trainers are helping future and current educators learn and practice family engagement techniques through hands-on activities, simulations, e-courses, and case-based discussions.

As a follow-up activity to this FINE Newsletter, we will team up with Shannon Wanless of the SEED Lab in the Department of Psychology in Education at the University of Pittsburgh to host a professional development discussion board for educators, administrators, and trainers who are seeking support and guidance as they set new family engagement goals. Look for an email about this exciting opportunity soon.

Also, over the next six to eight months, we will be producing a suite of additional professional development materials. Among other things, these resources will focus on innovative ways of training community outreach workers on different cultural views and norms in the area of family engagement. Stay tuned!

As always, we thank you for your interest and invite you to pass this issue on to interested friends and colleagues. We hope that you will encourage them to become part of our FINE family of more than 13,000 members by signing up at We’ve made it even easier to share the FINE Newsletter content with your social networks: Find the “share” button on the left side of every page, and send interesting articles via email or through other platforms such as Facebook or Twitter.

Our best wishes,

Harvard Family Research Project FINE Team  


Strengthening Family Engagement Through Teacher Preparation and Professional Development

Elena Lopez and Christine Patton

In this Commentary, Harvard Family Research Project’s M. Elena Lopez and Christine Patton frame this issue of the FINE Newsletter, discuss the importance of teacher preparation in family engagement, and highlight the ways in which we at HFRP are working to advance educator training in this area.

Tips and Tools

Exploring the Parent, Family, Community Engagement Simulation: A Conversation With Brandi Black Thacker and Guylaine Richard

Brandi Black Thacker and Guylaine Richards

What you say to families and do with them matters! In this Q & A with Brandi Black Thacker and Guylaine Richards, we learn about how the Parent, Family, and Community Engagement Simulation can be used as a professional development tool in Head Start/Early Head Start programs and beyond.

Voices From the Field

A Click Away: A Q&A With Chip Donohue About the Benefits of Online Distance Learning for In-Service Teachers

Chip Donohue

In this Q&A, Chip Donohue talks with HFRP about early childhood educators’ participation in online distance education courses and discusses how the topic of family engagement is being integrated into these classes.

Voices From the Field

Teaching Future Educators and Families: Helping Maximize Children’s Learning

Pérsida Himmele

In this article, Pérsida Himmele talks about hosting engagement workshops for families and using what she learns from families to inform future teachers and provide them with meaningful in-class experiences to practice their family engagement skills.

Voices From the Field

Six Activities to Spice Up the Teaching Case Method Discussion

Maggie Caspe

Margaret Caspe discusses how college and university instructors can use the teaching case method to prepare future educators for family engagement. She offers a suite of activities that instructors can combine with the cases to help students dive deeply into the family engagement issues and dilemmas of practice that are presented in each case.

Resources & Research From Harvard Family Research Project

Professional Development in Family Engagement: A Few Often Overlooked Strategies for Success

Christine Patton and Shannon Wanless In this resource, HFRP’s Christine Patton and the University of Pittsburgh’s Shannon Wanless discuss the importance of professional development (PD) in the area of family engagement, point out strategies for trainers and teachers to think about when designing and considering participating in trainings, and highlight the changing nature of PD in general.

Family Involvement News

December 2013 News

Harvard Family Research Project's Family Engagement News We are committed to keeping you up to date on what's new in family engagement. View our list of links to current reports, articles, resources, and events in the field.

Contact Us

If you experience a problem reading this newsletter or have questions and comments concerning our work, we would love to hear from you. Please send an email to

We're glad to have you with us!

Harvard Family Research Project FINE Team

© 2016 Presidents and Fellows of Harvard College
Published by Harvard Family Research Project