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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 VI, Issue 5
Issue Topic: The Role of Organizations in Anywhere, Anytime Learning

HFRP Research & Resources

When organizations invest in the development of their workforce, they create communities in which professionals are skilled, knowledgeable, and motivated to take on new challenges. Organizations such as schools, early childhood and afterschool programs, libraries, and museums, which specialize in educating children and youth, have a double responsibility. Their professionals need time to analyze, reflect on, and integrate new standards and strategies into their teaching practice. These professionals also need opportunities to strengthen their abilities to build relationships with families and communicate effectively. All too often, though, organizations overlook the importance of providing professional development around family engagement topics. To help reverse this trend, we share the following list of five of our favorite resources on professional development in family engagement. 

graphic of the number 1  

Incorporate family engagement into professional development systematically, not just occasionally.
Changing the Conversation About Workforce Development: Getting From Inputs to Outcomes
Looking across the early childhood, child welfare, juvenile justice, youth development, and public education sectors, this report from Harvard Family Research Project examines the evidence base for how investments in the workforce lead to better child and youth outcomes. The report provides a framework with recommendations for how research on workforce development can begin to better document its impact on children, and includes tips on how to move away from the one-shot workshop.  

graphic of the number 2   Offer training that is flexible and that acknowledges the needs of professionals.
Innovative Approaches to Preparing and Training Educators for Family Engagement
Elements of effective professional development and the increase in interactive training tools like simulations to meet the needs of a diverse range of professionals are topics in this December 2013 issue of the FINE Newsletter. The issue also looks at the advantages of e-courses for fitting professional development into busy schedules.  
graphic of the number 3   Guide educators and community professionals to use digital platforms and other forms of technology to connect with families.
Results Matter: Using Technology for Authentic Assessment
A great way to introduce professionals to new digital platforms and technology is by having them watch others utilizing the tools. This video library, developed by the Colorado Department of Education, provides just such an opportunity for professionals interested in a wide range of issues in professional development concerning early childhood education. The videos also highlight different ways that early childhood professionals are using digital platforms to connect with families and share information about children’s progress.  
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Have professionals problem solve and reflect on real-world cases.
Family Engagement Teaching Cases
Harvard Family Research Project’s teaching cases help prepare teachers and other professionals to partner effectively with the families of children and youth. These case studies reflect critical dilemmas in family–school–community relations, especially among low-income and culturally diverse families. Each teaching case includes a narrative told from different perspectives, discussion questions, recommended readings, and, when available, instructor notes and expert commentary. 

graphic of the number 5   Provide clear and concrete examples of strong family engagement practices that educators can use.
Successful Family Engagement in the Classroom: What Teachers Need to Know and Be Able to Do to Engage Families in Raising Student Achievement Teachers' beliefs, mindsets, and their relationships with families build a strong foundation that supports student achievement. This article, and accompanying rubric, provide districts, school leaders, and teachers with a clear picture of what effective family engagement looks like in the classroom through concrete descriptions of how teachers demonstrate strong family engagement through their conversations and daily practice.

Photo of Laura Alves As a graduate research assistant at Harvard Family Research Project, Laura Alves works on projects for the Family Involvement Network of Educators (FINE) and the Parent University Network. Laura is currently a graduate student at Harvard Graduate School of Education in the Education Policy and Management program and a recent graduate from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA where she studied sociology and religious studies.

This resource is part of the December FINE Newsletter. The FINE Newsletter shares the newest and best family engagement research and resources from Harvard Family Research Project and other field leaders. To access the archives of past issues, please visit

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