27 Jul The purpose of the Family Interview Project is for you to apply course content related to communication and interaction processes to better understand a family that includes a child with an
The purpose of the Family Interview Project is for you to apply course content related to communication and interaction processes to better understand a family that includes a child with an exceptionality. More specifically, this project allows you to demonstrate your ability to understand, effectively communicate, collaborate, and empower a family.
PREPARING THE INTERVIEW:1. First, you will identify a family with a member who has and child with an identified exceptionality. Once you identify a family to work with, you will need to meet briefly with them to explain the purpose of your assignment and have them complete a consent form.2. At this initial meeting, you should also schedule the time and date for a collaborative conference/interview with the family.3. Prepare the specific questions (about 10) that you plan to ask your subject, but do not feel that you need to limit yourself to those questions.4. Once the parent/guardian begins to talk about a topic, you should use a flexible interview procedure.5. Following up with additional questions and asking for elaboration. Use follow up questions such as,?” “Please, tell me more about that,” or “Would you explain that?”
CONDUCTING THE INTERVIEW:1. You need to indicate to the interviewee that his/her name will not be revealed under any circumstances and that you will maintain the confidentiality of the information provided. Indicate that in your report and/or class discussion you will use a pseudonym name. 2. Obtain basic background information on your subject: age, gender, and ethnicity, place of birth, family composition, spouse or partner’s ethnicity, home language, additional languages, and basic socio-economic information (education and occupation).3. Keep the interview time within 40 to 50 minutes and take careful notes of the responses obtained.
WRITING THE INTERVIEW REPORT (90 points):Please include the following sections in your report. Each section must be clearly labeledIntroduction: (10 pts)This brief paragraph should explain the purpose of the interview.Methods: (20 pts)Participant.
- Use pseudonym
- Present background information
- Degree of privacy
- Length of interview
- Respondent's behavior
- Any problems with the procedure
Results: (40 pts)Based on your interview, describe the experience,/feelings of parent/guardian and school collaboration. Provide examples that are relevant to what you've learned from course readings and class discussions. You must relate your summary to information obtained from course readings. Conclusion: (10 pts)Include a brief concluding paragraph describing what you learned about family and school collaboration as a result of the interview.Format: (10 pts)The interview report should be at least 4-5 pages in length (12 point font, double spaced and 1” margins). This length does not include a cover page or the reference page. Please, use proper APA 7th format
The Parent of a Child with an Exceptionality
Wichita State University Spring 2021
CI 401 XXXXXXXX
As an educator, learning about our students and their lives is imperative to our jobs.
Every child comes from a different background, and every child and every background are
unique. Every family is different, and in order to fully understand the students in our care, we
need to also understand their families, (Friend and Cook, 2017, p. 267). One type of student
that I need a deeper understanding of is a student who has an identified exceptionality. A
student with an exceptionality is any student who has a disability or giftedness that requires
additional services in an educational setting. More specifically, a disability could be
characterized as limitations imposed on an individual including, but not limited to, physical,
cognitive, sensory, emotional, or learning limitations. In order to learn more about the family
life of a child with an exceptionality, I interviewed the mother of a student who is
The child who I was interested in learning more about is a kindergarten student at
Gammon Elementary School in Wichita, KS. I was able to sit in on the student’s annual
Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting, which was attended by the mother via Zoom.
After which, I was able to conduct my interview with her about her son. I met with her virtually
on March 16, 2021 for about thirty minutes. Gammon’s special education teacher joined the
meeting as well to help facilitate the conversation. I first started by acquiring some background
information about the student’s mother and their family.
She is a single mother, the father is, at the mother’s insistence, completely out of the
picture. She has two children, a daughter who is in 2nd grade, and a son, who is the
kindergartener and the focus of the interview. She is 28 years old and has lived in Wichita all
her life. She works for Phoenix Home Care and Hospice and is in the process of pursuing her
nursing degree and medication aid certificate at WSU Tech. They are a low-income, African
American family, and the mother was very shy during her IEP meeting and during the interview.
I was told that this is common for her and her demeanor. Having the special education teacher
present for our meeting likely made the mother feel more comfortable, considering that they
have an established relationship. Prior to the interview, the special education teacher
approached the mother on my behalf and gave her the consent form to participate in the
process. The special education teacher also went through the list of potential questions that I
had given her, and she picked out the questions that she thought would be appropriate to ask,
given the mother’s background and personality. The interview went as follows:
Question: What are some of the major strengths for your family as a whole?
Answer: Communication. I talk to my kids about school and about family. We spend a lot of
time together and talk as a family. We like to go to the zoo, water parks, Dave and Busters,
Chuck E Cheese, and to the park to spend time together.
Q: When the family faces a challenge, how do you cope with those difficulties?
A: I usually talk about things with my mom. She spends a lot of time with us on the weekends.
Q: What have been some school, or other setting, experiences in the past that have particularly
helped your child to feel good about himself?
A: The school helps a lot. He [my son] really likes the rewards at school when he does a good
job. He likes getting candy or a toy, or a certificate to take home.
Q: What types of communication occur with your child’s school? Are you satisfied with the
A: Yes, I think it’s a good arrangement. The school usually calls or sends home a letter or email.
I feel like I can contact them at any time, but usually they reach out to me.
Q: What has made you feel most empowered?
A: His learning and improvements in his speech. I can see a difference.
Q: What help and/or other supports do you feel your family needs?
A: None right now. My mom helps a lot with the kids, so I feel like we are doing alright.
The mother didn’t necessarily seem uncomfortable, but she also didn’t seem to be very
eager to share. She didn’t seem to be withholding any information, but still, she gave short
concise answers. Upon further prompting, she gave simple one-word answers or made
agreeable sounds, such as “Mmhmm.” The special education teacher who was present
informed me that this was fairly common for their interactions.
Although the answers she gave were brief, I did learn about the life of another family,
one who is drastically different from my own. Surprisingly, it’s not being a single mother, or
having two kids, one with exceptionalities, or being a low-income family that struck me the
most about the differences between my family and theirs. The most striking thing for me was
what she said about her mother being there to help her. My family all lives far away, in New
York or Washington, and I couldn’t help but feel a little jealous when she told me about her
mom coming on the weekends and helping her when she was going through a tough time. My
family is always there for me over the phone, but we’re missing the physical closeness. I value
family life and family engagement with students so much and I think that this mother having
such a close relationship with her children makes a huge difference in their lives at home and at
school. Studies have shown that family involvement in schools, and even just helping with
homework at home, increases students’ academic outcomes! (Friend and Cook, 2017). These
are the types of relationships I want to foster for my students in my own classroom. I want to
encourage parent/guardian involvement as much as possible and to offer classroom events that
are built around family participation. Parents/guardians are always welcome in my class and I
sincerely look forward to building relationships with my students’ families.
Family can be looked at through multiple lenses. One definition of a family is “two or
more people who regard themselves as a family and who share some of the functions that
families typically perform. These people may or may not be related by blood or marriage and
may or may not usually live together.” (Friend and Cook, 2017, p. 266). In the case of this
student, his family consists of himself, his older sister, his mom, and his grandmother. The
grandmother doesn’t live with him, but she is around enough and involved enough that I would
classify her as a member of his immediate family. Regardless, it is not my place to decide which
members of a student’s given or chosen family actually constitutes a family. If a child says,
“These people are my family,” then that is their prerogative to do so, and my responsibility to
Although this particular mother didn’t seem to have any obvious conflicts in
communicating with her children’s school, there still are several factors that could be
potentially problematic. One of these factors is culture. As aforementioned, this family is a
low-income African American family, and although a decent percentage of the student body at
Gammon is also Black (at least 40%), only a very small portion of the staff there are Black. The
overall cultural responsiveness at this school seems to be relatively well-developed as a whole,
but I can’t say as to what the school does on an individual level for students and their families
to make them feel that the school is culturally aware. It is possible that the mother of this
student feels intimidated in her IEP meetings by being the only African American person
present. In an effort to alleviate any possible feelings of cultural bias, perceived or otherwise, it
is important for schools to focus attention on the family themselves, eliminating any implicit
bias that may be present. It’s also important for schools to recognize the uniqueness of each
family unit; again, no two families are the same. It is also extremely important for schools to
view families as partners in the education system. Families need to feel included; they need to
feel the equity that they have in the partnership with their children’s schools. These
suggestions, among many others, are imperative for the collaboration between schools and
families, (Friend and Cook, 2017, p. 277).
It is also the responsibility of the schools to recognize the specific needs of families with
a child with a disability, like the one that participated in this project. Even though kids spend
more of their waking hours in school than they do at home in many cases, parents and
guardians are still the experts on their children, and it is crucial to treat them as such. Having a
child with a disability can cause little or no strain on a family and their daily lives, or it cause
severe strain and penetrate every aspect of a family’s life. As an educator, it is important to
realize that every family copes with adversity in different ways, and that I will likely never fully
realize what it is like to be in that position. It is also crucial to recognize that students with
disabilities will likely be much more dependent upon their parents than their peers without
disabilities. Dependency for food, clothing, shelter, and love are things that most children have
in common, but for students who have disabilities, they may also be dependent upon their
caregivers for much more. Physically moving around their homes is one example of further
dependency. Social and emotional experiences may be another; depending on the nature of
the disability, the only significant social emotional interactions the child has may be with his or
her family. Therefore, it is vital to recognize the unique challenges of a family with a student
who has a disability, but it is absolutely essential not to view them as victims, to patronize
them, or to treat them with pity. Treat them with respect and empathy, just as you would treat
a family who does not have a child with a disability, but always be cognizant of the fact that
they have unique emotional, social, physical, and financial needs, (Friend and Cook, 2017, p.
During my time interviewing the mother of a kindergartener who is developmentally
delayed, I got the opportunity to get an inside view of the life of a family with a child who has
an exceptionality. The biggest thing that I have learned from interacting with this parent, is
that her son’s needs do not define her or their family. As a single mother of two young
children, she has a certain dependency upon the school, Gammon Elementary, to inform and
include her in all aspects relating to her children. What I have gathered from this particular
relationship is that the collaboration between the school and the parent seems to stem largely
from the parent’s trust that the school is doing all they can for her son and his individualized
care and educational needs. The mother is a willing participant, but due to the restrictions of
daily life, being a single parent, working, and attending WSU Tech, her level of involvement in
her son’s education is less involved than that of a parent who has fewer constraints. However,
it was clear to me that she was indeed invested in what the school had to say and that she
trusts their judgement regarding her son’s well-being. The most significant thing I have learned
about collaboration between schools and families is that collaboration will look different for
every family. As previously established, every family is unique, so it makes perfect sense that
every collaboration between families and schools should subsequently be unique as well.
Friend, M., & Cook, L. (2017). Interactions: Collaboration Skills for School Professionals (8th ed.). Pearson.
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