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February 5, 2015
Everyone loves a good story.
Stories help people form relationships and make sense of the world around them. Business, medicine, and education have long used stories---or cases---as teaching and professional development tools. In the family engagement field, reading cases challenges those who work with families to consider multiple perspectives; think critically about real-world issues; communicate effectively; and identify family strengths. These are all abilities that educators need to work effectively with families.
With this in mind, Harvard Family Research Project and the Community Engagement Team in the Department of Human Services in Cambridge, Massachusetts, have developed the Create Your Own Case Toolkit. Our toolkit is a practitioner-driven professional development resource designed to help those who work with families---teachers, librarians, afterschool staff, and camp counselors, to name a few---reflect on experiences with families and recreate stories as cases. The resulting cases that they develop can be used to create conversations among practitioners and families in parent cafés and formal meetings. These conversations will enable practitioners to better serve children and families.
The Create Your Own Case Toolkit is divided into three main components:
(1) six steps to follow, with related exercises, to help those who work with families recreate their own stories as cases;
(2) a collection of family engagement cases written to spark conversation and inspire case writing; and
(3) a facilitators guide that offers specific ideas for how the Create Your Own Case Toolkit can be used in family engagement courses, workshops, and seminars or in individual supervisory sessions.
The Create Your Own Case Toolkit is designed to be used creatively and flexibly. We invite you to find inspiration in the examples that we provide and to design new techniques that promote better case discussion and case writing. For example, the toolkit can be used not only with practitioners, but also with families. You might bring families, practitioners, and community members together to reflect on and share perspectives about the cases in the collection.
We hope you find the Create Your Own Case Toolkit helpful and interesting. We also hope you'll send us any comments that you might have about how you use it!