We all want all families to feel welcome at our schools.
An active middle school PTSA was committed to including all voices in their PTSA planning. They worked with their school’s Spanish-bilingual and Chinese-bilingual family liaisons to engage the English-language learner communities at their school and to provide interpretation at their meetings. At every meeting, the Spanish-speaking and Cantonese-speaking families had interpretation and a familiar face to welcome them to the meetings. Before the meeting started, they felt included and welcome to their PTSA.
Yet, when it was time to discuss the budget and upcoming events, the PTSA Board described the events that they had planned and didn’t ask for feedback from all members at the meeting. The Spanish-speaking parents were confused. They had come with their ideas for community events and were excited to share their ideas, but, when they suggested new events or programs, the PTSA Officers asserted that they had already decided what the community events would be.
Do you think that the Spanish-speaking families returned to the next meeting?
“Welcoming All Families” is the first standard of Family Engagement in the National Standards for Family-School Partnerships. Our PTAs provide Welcome Back to School events, mentor families and many other terrific programs, strategies, and initiatives that are described in the National Standards Assessment Guide. We can make our schools even more welcoming by watching for micro-aggressions in your PTA meetings and activities.
Microaggressions are indirect, subtle or unintentional instances of discrimination against members of a marginalized group. Although they are thought of as small actions, microaggressions can have a tremendous impact. In a short PTA video, you can learn how to recognize microaggressions, respond to them and repair relationships in situations where we’ve committed them.
Continue your learning and reflection on micro-aggressions with these questions and resources.
- Are you more often an observer, perpetrator or victim of microaggressions? What does it feel like for you in each of these roles?
- Which of your identities (i.e., race, immigration status, language, religion, gender, sexuality, ability, household status, etc.) tend to have more “power” and could lead you to unintentionally commit a microaggression? What would it look like in those instances?
- How does intent and impact show up in how you respond to microaggressions?
- What has worked and has not worked when you have responded to a microaggression?
For your PTA to discuss:
- Where have you seen microaggressions play out in your PTA? In your school community?
- Who is affected by these microaggressions? What is the impact for these people?
- How can you recognize, respond and repair microaggressions when they occur within your PTA?
Come to the Family Engagement Meet-up during Convention 2021 on May 14 at 4:00 p.m. to reflect on how you and your PTA may become more aware of and address microaggressions at your school.
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