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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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FINE Newsletter, Volume I, Issue 4
Issue Topic: Family Engagement as a Shared Responsibility

Tips & Tools From Harvard Family Research Project

With a renewed emphasis on school improvement in today’s education climate, many schools and districts are investing in strategies to promote teacher effectiveness. One of these strategies is building teacher capacity to meaningfully reach out to and engage families in support of their children’s learning through the use of teaching cases.

Harvard Family Research Project’s Teaching Case series specifically supports teacher training and professional development in the area of family engagement. Each case highlights a particular challenge that schools, families, and communities may encounter in supporting children’s learning. Accompanying instructor’s notes encourage readers to think critically about major issues in the case.

In this month’s newsletter, we feature the teaching case Suspension at Aurora Middle School, which highlights the shared responsibility of community groups to resolve home-school difficulties.

About Suspension at Aurora Middle School
When Khoi is suspended from school for unwittingly getting involved in a fight, his mother, Mai, is worried about his resulting disengagement from school. She calls on the help of a friend and a community-based organization to approach the principal on her behalf. Her limited English ability and wariness about approaching authority have made it difficult for her to arrange a meeting on her own. Questions at the end of the case encourage readers to think about the rights and responsibilities of students, schools, and families to understand school policies, the potential of established systems for managing communication with families and advocates, and potential courses of action for key players in the conflict.

Go to the Suspension at Aurora Middle School teaching case.

About Harvard Family Research Project's Teaching Cases
Harvard Family Research Project's Teaching Cases help prepare teachers and other professionals to partner effectively with the families of children in elementary school. These research-based case studies reflect critical dilemmas in family–school–community relations, especially among low-income and culturally diverse families. Each teaching case includes a narrative, discussion questions, recommended reading, instructor notes, and expert commentary.

Suspension at Aurora Middle School and many other cases are available for free on Harvard Family Research Project's website. In addition, a collection of teaching cases entitled Preparing Educators to Involve Families: From Theory to Practice, is available for purchase from Sage Publications.

Access Harvard Family Research Project's Teaching Cases available for free online.

Purchase Preparing Educators to Involve Families: From Theory to Practice.

This article is part of the November 2009 FINE Newsletter. The FINE Newsletter shares the newest and best family involvement research and resources from Harvard Family Research Project and other field leaders. To access the FINE Newsletter Archive, visit

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