Saint Joseph's University

SPE 608 Families, Schools and Communities: Communication and Collaboration

Discover the power of family, and the potential challenges and rewards in family-school collaborations.

The content presented on this page is representative information for example purposes and is subject to change without notice as course and student needs change over time. For current course descriptions, please see the Online Academic Catalog.

Format: Online

Duration: 16 weeks

Credits: 3 credits

At any age, children with special needs can be seen as vulnerable. Dependent on their family, they often face challenges that affect their ability to relate in the classroom. From single-parents to same-sex parents, from culturally diverse to severely dysfunctional, families influence children’s behavior. Knowing each student’s situation helps you guide them to a more fulfilling learning experience. In this course, you are introduced to a wide range of at-risk students, as well as at-risk family situations. You learn how to evaluate a student’s behavior as it relates to family factors and how to effectively draw from family, school, and community resources to reach these students who deserve a chance to be challenged by learning.

In this course, you focus on the process of family assessment and intervention, issues of family and professional collaboration and diversity, and methods of promoting adult communication and management strategies. You apply the knowledge of cultural and linguistic diversity and the significance of socio-cultural and political contexts as they relate to the family, culture, and society. You identify the members of teams designed to support and optimize children's educational needs and social-emotional development and the network of community services and resources to individuals, families, and groups affected by social, environmental, health, and related problems.

Throughout this course, you meet many hypothetical at-risk students with challenging backgrounds. Case studies give you the opportunity to apply what you are learning to real-life situations and are an ongoing teaching tool in your program. Types of at-risk families you study include single parent households with financial challenges, families where children begin to experiment with alcohol and drugs, and families with children diagnosed with disabilities. You also explore early screening for certain disabilities, intervention steps for pregnant teens, and how to identify community resources to help reach at-risk students.

Regular discussions enhance your learning experience by allowing you to interact with your professors and peers on a range of relevant topics. You might talk about the effects of school transitions, such as those from middle to high school, or even from class to class, and how school personnel, family members, and adult agency personnel can help lessen the stress some children feel during such changes. Discussions like this cover a wide range of topics. When you finish this course, you will have insights that will help you as you help the at-risk students in your classroom.

Sample Course Topics  

Throughout this course, weekly topics may include:

  • Understanding Families and Family Systems, and the Importance of Home-School Partnerships
  • Structurally and Culturally Diverse Families, and the Child at Risk
  • Family System Theory, Collaborative Practices, and Families Dealing with Transition, Obstacles, and Abusive Situations
  • Families of Children Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
  • Teachers and Families Dealing with Students at Risk
  • Teacher as Collaborator, Communication Facilitator, Resource, and Advocate
  • Family Events and School Involvement

Examples of What You’ll Learn

When you complete this course, you will be able to:

  • Understand the benefits of mutually collaborative working relationships with families and reasons why a parent or guardian may not want to be involved.
  • Explain the four major subsystems of a family and the social system within each family.
  • Discuss family interaction, family functions, challenges within families, and effective intervention for at-risk students.
  • Understand today’s family diversity and the challenges facing working parents, single parents, stepparents, and same-sex families.
  • Discuss situations that affect the family dynamic, including disabilities or illness, domestic violence, substance abuse, and transition to another home or school.
  • Discuss the concerns of a family with a deaf child and the challenges a deaf parent faces.
  • Discuss the challenges facing students at risk for substance abuse, teen pregnancy, sexual misconduct, and suicide.
  • Effectively communicate with students, parents and community resources outside the classroom.
  • Identify the barriers to effective communication, the importance of non-verbal communication and the use of technology in communication.
  • Create an effective family involvement plan, taking into consideration cultural differences, the challenges of working parents, and the importance of welcoming families in transition.

To learn more about the online Master of Science in Education - Special Education and Master of Science in Education – Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing PK-12 certification curricula from Saint Joseph’s University, including Families, Schools and Communities: Communication and Collaboration, call (866) 758-7670 to speak with a Program Manager or request more information.

The content presented on this page is representative information for example purposes and is subject to change without notice as course and student needs change over time. For current course descriptions, please see the Online Academic Catalog.

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