Parent feedback

As the league table debate simmers, I’ve been giving thought to how we build greater levels of understanding about student achievement between schools and communities; especially parent communities. This way we build a culture of trust and enquiry.

I believe that all too often our definition of a school community is predicated on the notion of teachers as expert and parents as carers. This places parents at the periphery of the school learning experience as if it were something quite distinct from the learning taking place within the home. Too often parents defer to the “expert” the teacher because they feel that he teacher always knows best.

Our goal has to bridge the gap between what we know about schooling based on contemporary theory and exemplar practice and what parents know about schooling.

For me, part of the process of school accountability and performance relies on feedback from students and parents.  Too often though we dismiss negative feedback – depriving ourselves of a valuable tool for seeking broader engagement, gaining trust and finding new and effective strategies for learning.

I have referred to schools in the UK that, like Reggio-Emilia exist and thrive as an eco-system, a global village where everyone whether it is the cook, parent or teacher has something value to contribute to education.

A quote to ponder from Carina Rinaldi, executive consultant for Reggio Children:

…the school-family is practised not only as an individual relationship between parent and teacher, and certainly not as a relationship of subordination in which the teacher tells the parent what he or she should do, what is right or mistaken.

Rather it is a common journey for building together – parents and teachers – values and ways of educating in contemporary society, inside and outside school.

We have a responsibility therefore to join the parents into the same learning journey that their kids are experiencing. We have exciting new ways to do so


5 thoughts on “Parent feedback

  1. Well said Greg!

    All too often the parents’ suggestions, concerns and comments are ignored because some members of our profession believe that they are ‘above’ listening to the thoughts or suggestions of others.

    The topic of my research study was ‘parents expectations of schooling’.

    Quite simply put, my findings were that parents, regardless of socio-economic status, race, colour or creed wanted the best for their children. Generally speaking, parents had high expectations of their children and of schooling.

    The complicating factor in all of this is that some parents, particularly those from lower socio economic areas and those with little education themselves, don’t know how to go about getting the best for their children.

    What an onerous task therefore, for us, the so called ‘experts’.

    It is even more incumbent on us to listen to the voices of all, especially to those less educated parents who are, I believe, more trusting of our profession than many other parents.

  2. I totally agree with you Liz. Our job as leaders is often to be advocate for both students and parents within our teaching communities. Too often parents are regarded as being difficult or not doing enough. I believe parents place a great deal of trust in us as teachers and that they should be considered our ‘partners’ not our ‘opponents’ in the education of their children.

  3. Well said, now promote this amoung your young staff who, like all of us have a great deal to learn. Also we beg please give every school honest transparent leaders like Dr Ricketts. Leaders capable of the vision you have for 21st century schooling.

    As far as accountability and feedback – come to our school – talk to parents and feel their distress that we have performed so far below the national benchmarks. We have watched the decline, we have questioned the decline, we can help here but we need to be listened to and helped by those in power!

    1. Julie, we are not avoiding the hard issues – we are challenging all of our school communities to improve the learning outcomes for all students in every school. This is a work in progress and involves the whole community; parents, students and teachers. Every school is unique and has different learning needs and we recognise this. However, no school can avoid the challenge outlined above to improve learning outcomes.

  4. Hi Greg, not once did I say you avoid the hard issues, as a matter of fact I have found you more than accomodating when I have bought hard issues to you. I am however yet again requesting a good hard look at any school that has in the past few years fallen so far behind. I know you are not big on testing results, but hey these are basic skills which every child needs, just basics. Parents are saddened by their childrens lack of knowledge…the same kids whose brothers and sisters achieved high to average skills, same demographics same socio-economic status.

    I understand every school is unique but the message is clear we have not improved we have had a long slow downhill slide. Parents have placed their trust and wrapped up their hopes in you guys and are still waiting for the improvement. I’m not saying it can’t be done, I know it can, but lets do it huh.

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