In an earlier post, Parents as Participants, the initial impetus came from A Vision for 21st Century Education, a document released last December that made the argument — the roles of students, teachers and parents need to change as our education system evolves. Over the past two months, each of our schools has considered what “parents as participants” to improve student learning would look like in their schools, and meetings have been held with students, staff and parents.
Here are some of the common themes and suggestions that have emerged:
- Share expertise with class / school (guest speaker)
- Volunteer (in class or with extra-curricular)
- Engage with newsletters / websites / blogs / planners, etc.
- Show interest in your child’s work and answer their questions (help but don’t do the work)
- Give your child descriptive feedback
- Build relationships with teachers and other adults at school
- Educate yourself on the changing classroom (and rethink what you know about school)
- Encourage healthy behaviours at home (eating, sleeping, time management, boundary setting)
- Jump in with technology alongside your child
- Extend the learning outside of class hours (family trips, extension activities, etc.)
- Model that you are a learner, for your child
- Communicate regularly with school
- Value the administrators’, teachers’ and staffs’ professional roles in your child’s school
- Help set learning goals for your child (co-planners)
- Foster independence
Here is one particularly clever and thoughtful summary from Bowen Island Community School. Thanks to Jennifer Pardee (Principal) and Scott Slater (Vice-Principal) for sharing it:
In thinking about “Parent as Participant” we were thinking of a performance which had:
1. Parent on Stage, Modelling
- Model an interest in school by reading Newsletters, Website, Twitterfeeds, etc.
- Model Lifelong Learning by sharing with students what they are learning themselves and perhaps
doing their own readings about topics in school Model Citizenship by joining PAC or volunteering in other ways
- Share expertise with classes
2. Rehearsal, Coach
- Answer questions about homework and discuss ‘big ideas’ of learning
- Show interest in both the process of creating and the creation itself
- Remember that it is the student’s performance and that while the parent can help, it is they who have to be able to perform alone
3. Parent in Audience, Child on Stage (stage = assignment/authentic transfer task) Audience
- Stay in your seat and give them some space
- Read what your child writes, clap for it, make the writing/reading experience a performance with the accountability a performance entails
4. Backstage / Connector
- After the performance, give more descriptive feedback than simple applause: what did they do well, what do they think they need to work on to get better, what will they do differently next time.
- What connections can be made between the show/learning, and other aspects of experience?
- Ask child, what can you do now? Where can you go next?
5. Next Show: Facilitator
- If the child knows where they want to go next, help them — family field trips, etc.
Idea: for parents to take time in their busy lives to be deliberate as coaches and models for their children; to explain to them not just how they support learning and the school in general, but why, and in doing so impress the point of the importance of education and the need for numerous influences on learning.
This is an important conversation we look forward to continuing, and we would like you to help continue the conversation.