Monday, July 7, 2014

Living the core beliefs, with trust #ptcamp

I must start with this- I love the conversations we are having on Voxer.  Although I haven't added much too far due to being on a family vacation, I have listened to and read every Vox.  When I have been able, I have even commented a time or two.  Reading Beyond the Bake Sale has provided us all a common language and allowed for us to share all of the great things we are doing in our schools.  It has also helped me put more of a focus on the best ways for our school to partner with parents.  Thank you for stretching my thinking as well as validating my thoughts.  And now on with the assignment.

Core belief 1- All Parents Have Dreams for Their Children and Want the Best for Them
This is my favorite of the core beliefs.  I have never met a parent who didn't have a dream for their child.  Being a father, I want my daughter's life to be better than mine.  At times I push her a little further than maybe I should, but it is because I love her and want her to live up to her potential.  I guess you could say I'm just like any other parent.  And that's what I remember every time I speak with a parent about their child and the concerns they might have.  Now I'll remember to include this question in every conversation- What are your dreams for your child?

Core belief 2- All Parents Have the Capacity to Support Their Children's Learning
I think we sometimes forget this about our parents.  They are all doing the best that they can do for their child.  They might not attend every school function, including conferences, but they are all there to support their child.  I know that I need to provide more information to parents about our curriculum, but I don't know how best to do this.  We have had parent nights for math and Readers' and Writers' Workshop, but they haven't been very well attended.  Some of the ideas I have heard in our Voxer conversation will hopefully spark more attendance and conversation to help our parents provide more support for their children.

Core belief 3- Parents and School Staff Should Be Equal Partners
This is a belief I hold but I have work to do to help all of our staff believe this as well.  I work with a great staff but sometimes their is a fear of parents that comes from previous experiences.  I'm hopeful to develop a Parent Advisory Committee this year to help foster this partnership.

Core belief 4- The Responsibility for Building Partnerships Between School and Home Rests Primarily with School Staff, Especially School Leaders
I truly believe that in order for a partnership between school staff and parents, I must make it a priority for both the staff and parents to develop this partnership.  I know that I can't do it alone, but there are many great parents and staff in our district who I'm sure share this same belief.  I will be having a table at Open House to try to get this started, but I know that a personal invitation will be much more successful in getting this started.

The three-point joining process seems simple enough, but each of the three points involves trust.  Building trust is not an easy thing to do.  And once trust has been broken, it is even more difficult to rebuild the trust than when it was initially developed.
1. Welcome parents into the school.
We all welcome parents into the school, but do they really feel welcome?  How they are greeted when they enter the school is just one facet of this point.  It goes beyond this, though.  Parents need to feel welcomed at any time, whether its to volunteer in a classroom or the library or during parent meetings or conferences.  I love the idea of having the children invite their parents or significant adults into their classrooms.  This seems like a great way to start making our parents feel more welcome in our schools.
2. Honor parents' participation
I know that our teachers and staff thank parents regularly for their participation, but we still can do this much more often.  We have a volunteer breakfast, but this is no more than a one-time event.  We need to make sure that we honor parents' participation more than just once.  We should honor what they do on a more consistent basis.  A personal phone call would be a great start.
3. Connect with parents through a focus on the children and their learning
Right now, we do this only during parent/teacher conferences or when there is a concern about progress.  Why don't we do this when students have done something well?  That would definitely help foster parent communication and engagement.  My favorite phone calls are those that I make with a student when they have been successful.  There is always apprehension on the other end of the call as, unfortunately, I don't make these kind of phone calls often enough.  Maybe I need to take the lead and make more of these phone calls to show staff and parents the benefits or positive communication in building trust.

I guess I have just reiterated Core belief #4-  The Responsibility for Building Partnerships Between School and Home Rests Primarily with School Staff, Especially School Leaders.  Let the new partnership begin!