Upcoming Meeting Information

Our next regular meeting will be held Tuesday March 19th 2013 7:00pm AE Cross school library (3445-37th St SW). We will be hosting Dr. Sharon Friesen.

Sharon is the Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Education and the President of Galileo Educational Network. Her research interests are focused on the ways K-12 educational systems and structures, including teaching, need to change in a post-industrial society. She has co-authored three books and has received numerous awards for her research and teaching.

This presentation will introduce the idea of student engagement with an emphasis on intellectual engagement.  Findings from the first national survey, as well as findings from a variety of Alberta research studies will be discussed. This presentation will focus on the relevance of these findings to parents.

April Meeting

In order to better support the CBE efforts to engage parents and to help ease the education related meeting load on members, the Calgary Association of Parents and School Councils will be canceling its April meeting and would instead like to invite you to join us at the second Council of School Councils meeting on Wednesday April 17th from 6:45-9:00.  

CAPSC was in attendance for the fall COSC meeting and will once again be there to represent our members. 

Full details to follow next month.

February Meeting Follow Up

Communicating and Engaging with Newcomer Families

We invited several local professionals who work with newcomer families throughout Calgary to join our panel.  We were pleased to welcome:

Kirstin Blair – Immigrant Services Calgary
Atussa Silvino - Coalition for Equal Access to Education
Tehera Kapacee and Tulan Do – Calgary Catholic Immigration Services

Three central questions were discussed and included below are summaries of the discussions.

How can school councils work to improve communication and make it more effective for newcomer families?

Two main areas were discussed – language and family considerations.

Language represents a significant barrier for many newcomer families and the discussion provided several suggestions for how to remedy some of these challenges.

  • Offer web pages, agendas, personalized invitations and bulletin board notices in other languages.
  • Utilize language resources for help.  This may include a student ambassador, interpreters or support counselors, many of which can be accessed through groups like those of our panel members.
  • Keep written wording simple and speak slowly when talking to the families.  Also be conscious that an abundance of paperwork can be overwhelming, especially at the start of the school year when a lot is going home.
  • Check with your school, as some forms have been translated already and can be accessed through the CBE.

Another area of awareness is that there may be other considerations affecting communication.  For example, some families are unfamiliar with the Canadian school system and may not be used to having such a large role in their child’s schooling.  Each family may be comprised of different situations such as work schedules.  It is also beneficial to make the school feel welcoming.  Embrace diversity by displaying flags or different languages throughout the school. 

How can school councils better engage newcomer families in school sponsored activities and events?

The overwhelming feeling was that school councils could really benefit by making their presence more well know to these families.  Having a school council representative present during parent teacher interview times seemed to be a popular idea.  Some of the panelists felt that the school councils taking more of a role during the parent teacher conference nights would give council members a chance to engage with the families more on a one-to-one basis.  For many newcomer families, the PT interview may be a new experience and this could be where school councils could provide guidance, potentially resulting in additional participation from some of these families.

Other suggestions were to consider meeting time changes to accommodate a variety of work schedules and make the meetings more personalized and relevant to newcomer families so they feel comfortable making a contribution in a group of new faces.

“Don’t confuse a lack of confidence with a lack of interest”  - Kirstin Blair

What are cultural barriers that should be considered when trying to increase communication with newcomer families?

The panelists felt that the barriers were not cultural, but rather more based on the language challenges and family situations.

Our school system may have different class sizes and teacher roles than what the families were used to previously.  Families also face challenges related to being new to a community.  Things like lack of babysitters and transportation can all pose challenges for families attempting to participate in a school council meeting. 

For a full list of the resources discussed, please see our blog

Traffic Safety Stakeholder Meeting

At our January meeting Jillian Millar Drysdale and Karen Lloyd from the Alberta safe streets initiative were in attendance to discuss their efforts to align school traffic zones to include all school start times.  Next month they are hosting a meeting that will aim to coordinate efforts of stakeholders throughout the city to discuss ideas and solutions regarding school traffic safety. 

Please see the invitation for more details and please join in the discussion if you would like to participate. 


CBE Area Meetings

In February 2013 the CBE trustees hosted 5 area meetings to gather data from parents regarding their children's education.  They have posted the raw data on their website.  Check it out and we will be sure to keep you up to date as they analyze the information.  Comments from these meetings will also be discussed at the COSC meeting in April.