Sunday, April 17, 2011

Parents - A Positive Attribute of Successful Schools

     I recently had the pleasure of delivering the opening keynote at a parent conference hosted by the Simcoe County District School Board.  The "Circle of Learning" conference ( is organized by the parent involvement committee (what a great idea for all districts to have) and part of their mission is to connect parents with student  success. This is the third year they have organized the conference and the goal is to build the participation levels each year. I also had a chance to sit on a panel and hear some interesting perspectives and some common themes that align with my daily work.

Circle of Learning 2

     The comments also served to remind me of the valuable role parents have played in many of the successful outcomes I've seen happen in my twenty-eight years as an educator.  Whether it was a commitment to communicating with individual parents about the positive attributes of their children I was privileged to teach or seeing a middle school PAC grow from a small core of fundraisers to a group of 50 or more that initiated change and became the strongest advocates for our school, their contributions have also been precursors to larger positive outcomes.
     Communicating with parents continues to be an important part of my work today. Often times the point of interface is the midst of a crisis where resolutions are not as quickly achieved. Still those moments provide deep insights such as this recent communique I received from a parent:
“He is not the perfect child, if there is such a child, and I'm sure he will have his moments, but I would like them handled with maturity and fairness and with the professionalism that we can expect from the school and the adults who have been trained to deal with these situations.”
The point being made is that parents generally believe that educators have skills and abilities additional to their own and this might provide a deeper insight into resolving the challenges with the child.  Ponder this question - Do you think that your communication with a parent about a problem their child has is a revelation to that parent? More often they are aware of the challenges and limitations as they spend significantly more time with the child.  They are looking for some additional assistance in managing the problem and, in my experience, are much more likely to feel part of a team when invited to co-create a solution.
     Anything we can do to include parents in the daily lives of schools and to remain active participants in the education of their children will almost certainly guarantee a positive result.

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