Educating Parents About Education

In too many classrooms in America, parents are often viewed as the adversaries of teachers. While this isn’t true for every school district, even one is too many. The parent-teacher relationship is just one of the many factors that complicate our educational system, and it’s a prime example. Why is this relationship such a variable? The parent’s personal experience with education probably tops the list, but how the culture of the school accepts and relates to parents is a close second. Of course, every parent’s number one concern will be: “Is my child getting a proper education to compete and thrive in our world?”

Things Have Changed

In the past, communication has always been a key factor in bringing teachers and parents together. Today, we might add transparency as a key factor in parents’ understanding of what goes on at school.

The one thing most Americans have in common is an experience with our education system. As a result, almost everyone has an opinion on what is right and, even often more vocalized, what is wrong with the system.

What complicates these views further is the fact that most of us were educated by teachers who employed 20th century pedagogy and methodology, which means that the 20th century is the basis of our educational experience. Since we are now almost halfway through the second decade of the 21st century, we need to get everyone up to speed. This requires educating parents about the education of their children. For example:

  • No longer can a teacher’s quality be judged by the amount of homework assigned.
  • Quiet and complacent kids are not necessarily signs of students engaged in learning.
  • The teacher’s content expertise should no longer be the controlling or limiting factor in a student’s education.
  • We do not need rows of desks to ensure attention.
  • All learning is not limited to the classroom.

We are struggling today to bring teachers up to speed with all of the effects that result from our living in a technology-driven society. It has had a profound effect on many educators’ pedagogy, methodology, and education philosophy. Education is a conservative institution that is slow to change, but make no mistake — changes are occurring. As big of a struggle as it may be to affect the mindset of educators while they model and share those changes with their students, we must recognize that parents are left almost entirely out of the process.

Keeping Parents Informed

If we don’t want an adversarial relationship with parents, we need to educate them about the education of their children. Technology provides a number of methods for keeping parents informed. Of course, the most effective way of all is a face-to-face meeting. In the past, Parents Night or Back to School Night was the standard way of informing parents about the teachers’ expectations. It was one night set aside for parents to check out the mean teacher they had heard so much about at dinner. We probably need to make that a more collaborative process. These nights could be more effective if we allowed parents to pose sessions on topics that they had an interest in. Teachers could pose topics that they thought parents should be aware of. Back to School Night could be just that — a night to learn about topics relevant to education in the 21st century. Sessions could be a hybrid form of the edcamp model.

A class website could be most helpful in creating transparency. Parents could access it at any time to see what is currently going on in class. Of course, this impacts a teacher as another set of things to do, so we should expect a great deal of support from the district in order for teachers to accomplish this. Effective websites often result in parent support, as well as an appreciation for seeing their child’s work being modeled online. Kids respond differently as well, since they now have a voice and an audience that includes their parents.

There are apps like Remind that allow teachers to communicate via text to parents without revealing the phone numbers of the teacher or parent. Communication of both good and bad news can happen instantaneously in a medium that many people are familiar with. A text doesn’t take two days to go through the mail to be possibly swiped from the mailbox by a mail-notice-savvy student.

Teachers can preserve students’ work in digital files or portfolios. These can be instantly shared with parents. Grades on a report card are only subjective promises of potential, while the portfolio shows the actual work, which is proof of achievement and hopefully an example of mastery.

Parent Education Starts With Us

Today, educators are doing many things that are not in the education experiences of parents or teachers. We can’t expect parents to understand these new dynamics of education if they aren’t taught about them. Age may produce wisdom, but relevance needs to be worked on every day. In addition to the load that teachers already carry, parent education needs to somehow become a priority. If we want our kids’ education to last, they will need models that both teachers and parents can provide. And we have to work harder at keeping parents in the loop.

How do you keep parents informed about and involved in what happens in the classroom?

Original article: https://www.edutopia.org/blog/educating-parents-about-education-tom-whitby

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Parents are part of the child’s life too!

Children can benefit from the collaborated efforts of parents and school teachers. When parents are not part of the decision making process of education in the classroom, they can feel isolated. It is also critical that feedback on the student’s positive performance be shared with parents and not just negative ones.
This episode of the podcast looks at some practical ways to bridge the gap between parents and teachers.

Parents are part of the child’s life too!

Children can benefit from the collaborated efforts of parents and school teachers. When parents are not part of the decision making process of education in the classroom, they can feel isolated. It is also critical that feedback on the student’s positive performance be shared with parents and not just negative ones.
This episode of the podcast looks at some practical ways to bridge the gap between parents and teachers.

Coming Soon! Educational Psychology Podcast for Teachers and Parents.

Click on picture/ image:

its-about-starting-over-andcreating-something-better-1

Join me weekly as I talk about the collaboration teachers and parents should have to promote all-round development of students.  It is my belief that the teacher and parent/ guardian must be consistent with behaviour, approach and expectations for the child to move seamlessly form the school environment to the home environment and vice versa.  The podcast is design to make practical, research material in the field of parenting and education.  I encourage you to leave a comment on what you think of each episode.

I commend you teachers and parents for the efforts you are making to train your students and children to think and behaviour in the most appropriate manner.  Using the information from this podcast will enhance your efforts and contribute to the child school and home life.

Music for this podcast is made available by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

All the best!

“ZigZag” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

“Exit the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

NB: For ethical reasons, Mr. Allick Delancy is unable to give personal advice concerning a child, adult or family member over this network.  The information in this podcast and any materials produced or associated with this podcast is for educational purposes and not all tips may apply to your specific culture.

Copyright © 2017 Allick Delancy All rights reserved.

Advisory: 22 Ways to Build Relationships for Educational Success

Taken from:Nashville Big Picture High School

A shy and quiet ninth-grade student, Harley didn’t want to make friends when he entered Nashville Big Picture High School. He didn’t think he could. “Freshman year, I didn’t think I could really do anything,” remembers Harley, now a Nashville Big Picture alumnus and a rising college freshman. “Now, I believe in myself.”

On the first day of school, everything changed for Harley in his ninth-grade advisory when he met Michael, today one of his best friends. “He helped me to expand myself, talk more, and become friends with more people. I can now easily go up to somebody, shake their hand, and start a full-on conversation with them out of thin air,” notes Harley. His confidence shows in his senior capstone project, a 20-minute documentary honoring his graduating class. “I interviewed every student, every teacher, and most of the staff that we have ever interacted with,” recounts Harley. He also interviewed his peers about student voice and choice for Edutopia.

Relationships are the hub of advisory. Students stay with the same peer group of about 15 students — as well as the same advisor — throughout all four years. “Advisory gave me a place in school that I looked forward to,” recalls Harley. “In middle school, I would dread every day having to be with those kids again, but at Big Picture, I looked forward to seeing not only the group of people I considered friends, but the group I considered family.”

Students at Nashville Big Picture attend advisory Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (their on-campus days) for 15 minutes in the morning before classes and two hours at the end of the day. (They’re off-site at internships on Tuesday and Thursday.) During advisory, they have individualized learning time where they work on projects and assignments for their classes; ten-minute one-on-one meetings with their advisor weekly (the frequency and time can change depending on their students’ needs); and relationship-building activities, like family meals, problem-solving discussions, and games of Uno.

Nashville Big Picture has a 95 percent attendance rate and a 98 percent graduation rate. “They want to be here because they feel welcomed,” says Chaerea Snorten, Nashville Big Picture’s principal. “They feel like they matter. They feel loved and appreciated.”

If you want to create a culture where your students feel supported, appreciated, and safe to open up to you, here’s how you can adapt Big Picture’s philosophy of building intentional relationships, both inside and outside of advisory.

How It’s Done

22 Ways to Build Intentional Relationships With Your Students, Even If You’re at a Big School

If you can’t fit advisory into the master schedule, you can implement a lot of what Big Picture does during homeroom, in your classroom, or during lunch and break periods. At the heart of advisory is building intentional relationships with your students. Here are 22 ways to do that.

1. Know your students’ names, suggests Snorten. When you use someone’s name, you’re recognizing their identity. It’s simple, but it helps your students know that they’re being seen.

2. Recognize something that your students like. “Even something as simple as, ‘I know your favorite color is green,'” recommends Snorten. “Or, ‘I know your favorite football team is the Washington Redskins’ — anything like that. It’s a talking point.”

3. Notice something about your students. “‘Hey, I love your blouse. It’s really pretty.’ That extends itself for a conversation,” explains Snorten.

4. Ask your students about their experience in after-school activities. You can say something like, “’Hey, I know that you were able to go speak in front of the mayor. Tell me what that experience was like for you,’” suggests Snorten. “Or, ‘You all had a softball game the other day. I understand it was pretty tough. Share some fun things about it.’ These kinds of conversations are quick, and they don’t take hours and hours to build.”

5. If a student is late (or acting up), check in with them. “Instead of saying, ‘Go to class,'” suggests Courtney Ivy Davis, Nashville Big Picture’s school counselor and internship coordinator, “start a conversation, and say something like, ‘Hey, I’ve seen that you’ve been late for the past couple days. What’s going on? Do you need some help with anything?'”

6. When you’re having conflict with a student, use that as an opportunity. As a teacher, you’re positioned to help students problem solve and work out their issues. The language that you use in these situations is key, and Snorten advises asking the following questions:

  • What happened with this situation?
  • Was there something that you could have done differently? What would the outcome have been?
  • What are resources that you can use to help you work through issues or concerns that you have?

Related Resource: 13 Common Sayings to Avoid

7. Have your students address you by your first name, offers Snorten. This helps humanize you to your students. You’re not just their teacher or principal, but you become Miss Courtney or Mr. Gary who has two cats and loves to freestyle rap.

8. Know that it takes time to build relationships. Whether the role of advisor is new to you, or your advisory group just graduated and you’ll be starting over with freshmen again next year, remember that building relationships takes time. “It takes time to get through your students’ walls,” says Derick Richardson, a math teacher and advisor. “I have an awesome young lady in my advisory. It took a few years for her not to blow up on me whenever we had conversations revolving around conflict. Now I know how to present things to her so she can receive it.”

9. Be open, honest, and vulnerable with your students. “There’s nothing off limits,” says Gary Hook, a Big Picture history teacher and advisor. “I’m honest with them, I’ll say, ‘Hey, I had an argument with my wife this morning. I’m sorry if I’m in a bad mood. We’re going to get through it.’ I’ll say that, and it disarms them, and they may say, ‘I had an argument with my mom this morning, and I’m feeling …’ I like to take that approach because, at the end of the day, I know the real student versus a false personality. We get in touch with the human side of one another.”

10. Bring your personality into your advisory. If you walk into four advisories at Big Picture, you’ll notice that each one is different, and each one reflects the advisor’s personality. In Hook’s advisory, for example, they’ll sometimes have freestyle Fridays. He has been a fan of hip-hop since he was ten, and now he uses hip-hop as an avenue to connect with and engage his students; they challenge him to freestyle rap battles. “I’m pretty much undefeated,” he says. Another Big Picture advisor ends each advisory with a game of UNO, which has become an ongoing tournament.

11. Help your students learn that not knowing the answer is OK. “The number one thing that students think about is not wanting to appear as if they don’t know something,” says Laura Davis, a history teacher and advisor. “That’s a big hurdle to get over, getting them comfortable with asking for help.”

12. Guide your students to become resources for each other. “They learn who is good at computers, who is good at art, who’s good at organizing, and who is good to practice their presentations with,” says Davis, “and that is a life skill.” Help your students recognize their strengths — as well as the strengths of their classmates — so that they can support each other and know who they can reach out to for help.

13. Make sure you take care of yourself. Staying balanced is necessary, says Hook. As a teacher, you’re always thinking about your students. The same is true for being an advisor, and maybe even more so. When considering your students’ needs, don’t forget your own in the process. If you’re burnt out, you won’t be able to be fully present for your kids.

14. Create advisory expectations with your students on day one. “The most important thing in ninth grade advisory, from day one,” emphasizes Davis, “is setting what the culture of the room will be like. What are the expectations for the students and for the adult?” Have your students create the classroom norms, but allow yourself veto power. Be clear on each expectation and what that looks like. If be respectful is an expectation, what would being respectful look like?

15. “Whatever happens in advisory stays in advisory,” stresses Davis. It’s important to include confidentiality in the advisory expectations so that your students are comfortable sharing their feelings, struggles, and successes in a safe space.

16. Focus on teaching your students skills with long-term benefits. “Teaching them how to manage their time, their projects, due dates, syllabuses, and multiple apparatuses of online tools — that’s extremely key,” says Davis. “Reflecting, journaling, we do that every day. That happens at the very beginning. I want them to take these skills with them all four years. These are things I model every day.”

17. Check in with each student for ten minutes. If you have an advisory or homeroom, use some of that time to check in with your students one-on-one. “We talk about school, internships, life, and things they want to let me know,” explains Davis. “If you’re in a school with 500 students,” adds Hook, “and you don’t have the ability to connect with a small group, start having conversations about how to do that. Could it work if you add 15 minutes to your day, or if you take ten minutes away from your lunch?”

18. Do something fun. “If you have a homeroom of 36 kids, what could you do tomorrow to build relationships?” asks Davis. “Do something fun to get your students to start slowly breaking down their walls.”

19. Let your students do walk-and-talks when they’re having a hard day. When Davis’ students are having a difficult day, she lets them leave class momentarily to walk with her (while someone covers her class) or with a peer so that they can share what’s on their mind. “I think that’s really important for kids to know that they have a supportive group of peers — and an adult — that will listen,” says Davis.

20. Use family meetings to resolve conflicts. If there’s an issue, “we gather in a Quaker Circle and talk about what has happened and where we move from here,” explains Davis. “It prevents the ‘he said, she said,’ dialogue. Anyone can call a family meeting. I can, or the students can.”

21. Host family meals. “Every first Friday, we pick a menu, and every person has a responsibility,” explains Hook. “They bring in their food, and we eat, hang, and laugh together. That’s just my way of bringing them all back to this space, refocusing our energy, and hitting home the idea that we’re a unit, and we’re moving forward.” Family meals initiated from a holiday brunch. Hook’s students loved coming together to cook for each other, and they came up with the idea to have a family meal to celebrate all of the birthdays for each month. Hook begins each family meal with a lesson or philosophical question, like discussing what is wealth, or what traditions the modern American family no longer follows and what’s the impact of that. “Sometimes they entertain my questions, and they want to talk about it,” says Hook, “and other times, they’re just like, ‘Oh, gosh, here he goes again.'”

22. Reflect on your practice. At the beginning of each school year, as well as bi-monthly with their professional learning community, Nashville Big Picture’s staff looks at how they can improve what they’re doing. “We don’t just sit in one place,” says Ivy Davis, “and say, ‘Hey, this works,’ and leave it that way. No, we’re always looking at, ‘Is this still working? Do we need to keep it? How can we enhance this?'”

Building relationships is one of the most critical elements at Big Picture, says Snorten. “That’s key because it’s the catalyst. When a student can relate to you, and they know you care, that makes a big difference.” Nashville Big Picture has cultivated a relationship-focused culture, and advisory allows them to deepen those relationships.