As schools are becoming more embedded in their local communities, partnerships become more critical. There are growing examples where parents and local experts are contributing to the learning agenda in practical ways.
As I said in a previous post, it is understandable that parents often feel left behind in the learning journey (probably symptomatic of their experience of an industrial model of schooling in which teacher was seen as expert).
As all educators know, parents can be the harshest critics or the greatest supporters. It’s not always easy to maintain healthy partnerships with parents when there is a divergence of views and so much angst around aspects of the learning agenda. As Frances Manning says, the focus should be on process not packaging!
So why isn’t always about process?
In Visible Learning, John Hattie says that the inability of parents to ‘speak the language of learning’ can be a major barrier to student achievement.
If we are adopting new ways of learning and teaching, then perhaps we need new ways of engaging parents. If we were to develop some universal protocols then my top five would be :
1. engagement with parents from the beginning
2. regular community forums and walk-throughs (parents need to see learning in action) – what about the use of blogs as a way of educating and engaging parents in the conversation
3. involve students in giving feedback to their parents on their learning
4. demonstrating the difference new approaches to learning are making
5. finding ways of celebrating good learing and teaching
6. ensuring an outlet for parent feedback
Learning in today’s world is a journey, not a destination. As we build on what we know works and respond to teacher ingenuity and innovtions from their own learning we need to ensure that the whole school community is on the same journey!