I just came back from a wonderful dinner out with a group of teachers and parents. I worked with all of them on the Spring Fling Committee, and we decided to meet tonight to reflect on our fundraiser and look ahead to next year. Over the course of the dinner though, we started talking about many topics in education, including,
- cursive writing — my favourite topic of all time! 🙂
- spelling tests.
- math drills.
- the use of technology in education.
- differentiated instruction.
The conversations were great ones! We didn’t always agree, and that’s part of what made them great. These were incredibly respectful discussions. We all shared our viewpoints, listened to others, asked questions, and critically looked at all sides of the issue.
Tonight made me realize that we need to have these types of discussions. We need to hear from all stakeholders in education. Thanks to inspiration from educators like our Parent and Student Engagement Consultant, Aaron Puley, I speak a lot about establishing a strong home/school connection. I believe in the benefits of parent engagement, and not just involvement. But now I’m questioning if my practices always match my beliefs, as I don’t always engage parents in discussions about these controversial issues.
Education is constantly changing, but how do we communicate these changes with parents? How do we engage in open dialogue about them? What would you suggest? What do parents want? A great conversation over a good dinner this evening made me see the benefits of informal discussions, but does this method work for everyone? I’m still thinking …
I applaud your commitment to parent engagement. Your approach, as described above, clearly provides the foundation upon which to nurture it. Rather than working from a ‘I will TELL you what is best’ stance, you invite parents into ‘Intellectual Partnerships’. We have a far higher probability of collective mobilization for the greater good when we work from an equal footing that is anchored in mutual respect and relies upon the complementary competencies of all. I would certainly suggest that you are on the right path. Merely engaging in honest conversation rather than dictatorial lecture, as you did, is the secret. Well done!
Thanks for the comment! Last night kind of happened by accident, but on my car ride how, I couldn’t help but think about the discussions over dinner. They made me realize that these kinds of conversations need to happen more often … and on controversial educational issues. Makes me think about the benefits of EdCamps, and the need to have parents sharing in these talks. I’m curious to hear what parents have to say about this!