I must begin this post by communicating that I have struggled in the beginning weeks of #PTCamp as I think of how I can immediately apply what I am learning. If I were still in the classroom, I see so many possible ideas. If I had my first principal position, I obviously have many possible plans to work on with my staff and home communities. Starting as a Technology Integration Coach next year, I will work directly with teachers to help them integrate technology into their classrooms. I’m hoping that at the end of these six weeks, I can see a way to work with my four building principals and varied staffs to look at ways to build parent partnerships.
Core Belief 1
All Parents Have Dreams for Their Children and Want the Best for Them
In my experience, this belief is vital, yet it too often reaches a sticking point at the high school level. Too many schools seem to want to tell parents, “We’ll take it from here.” And, unfortunately, too many parents don’t feel welcome to talk about their hopes and dreams for their children. This is my favorite of the core beliefs. Someone said this in one of our early voxes for this week: Every parent sends us their best kid. That really resonated with me this week. Parents want the best for their children, but sometimes life puts obstacles in the way that make it difficult for them to help as they would like. It doesn’t mean the dreams go away. When working with my building principals, I hope to find ways to help them build and broaden these parent partnerships by using the technology tools I am tasked to help them learn and implement. If I become a principal, I want to engage with parents early and often and focus on their dreams they have for their children and how I might help them.
Core Belief 2
All Parents Have the Capacity to Support Their Children’s Learning
This ties into what I wrote in Core Belief 1. All parents have the capacity to support their children’s learning. Maybe they can’t help their child with homework, but they can certainly help ensure it gets done. And, why are we sending home the hard stuff instead of doing it at school, where the expert teachers are who can offer necessary support? Some of you in our Voxer group have amazing initiatives in place that engage parents and help you to form true partnerships. I will have to fight the urge to try it all at once, especially if I become a principal. As a teacher, I know how these shifts in thinking get viewed as “initiatives” an immediately tossed into the “it’ll go away at some point” pile. I hope to use our shared Google Doc to identify ideas I might work on with my staff.
Core Belief 3
Parents and School Staff Should Be Equal Partners
This again ties back to #1. I hold this belief as dear to me. My high school colleagues want parent help with discipline and homework completion, but I do not sense a desire for an equal partnership. I hope to be able to help my staff (as a Tech Coach or Principal) to believe in the importance of an equal partnership to the overall well-being and vitality of our school community. My principal last year started a true parent advisory committee – one with actual decision-making power. When I presented a Volunteer management app to her, she immediately loved it, but she took time before having me present it to the advisory committee. I viewed the app differently than they did, and they provided crucial guidance about how to best use an app like this (They decided that booster clubs would make the best starting point for the app and that, if successful, we could look to expand to other volunteer uses). My principal let them make that decision, and the parents seemed to value that their decisions mattered.
Core Belief 4
The Responsibility for Building Partnerships Between School and Home Rests Primarily with School Staff, Especially School Leaders
Sea-changes like this don’t happen just because the principal says “Make it so.” We want parents to feel they are partners, but that starts with me and my staff. We need to reach out to parents and make this work. The principal at the school where I have the least FTE assigned has reached out and asked me to attend registration this summer, so I can help parents understand our new SIS. We have arranged to have Chromebooks on hand so that every parent can be “hands-on” instead of watching a presentation or receiving a users manual. I think this is a great step and one that invites parents in and starts the support and partnership before school even begins.