The Parent-School Relationship
I was recently reading a post by Heather Wolpert-Gawron (a.k.a. TweenTeacher) titled “What Kind of Relationship Will I Have With My Child’s School?” It caught my attention since I’ve recently had a good experience with my oldest son’s preschool teacher. She writes that she wants her child’s teachers to let her know what is “really going on” with her child and how important that relationship with her child’s teacher is to ensure that.
This made me think about the relationship K¹² parents have with their teachers. There is not likely a question about the student’s behavior or concern that discipline method between the home and school vary in any way. The child is under the care and direction of the parent all day, so there is nothing but consistency. Since many parents include their K¹² students in cooperatives and learning groups, mom and dad also have first-hand knowledge of their behavior.
The relationship I had with the parents of my middle school students as a K¹² teacher was much different than the one Heather has with her child’s teacher. The parents really were the experts in their child. It was I who needed to learn from the parents what made their children “tick” and how I could best help the child and parent to be successful with the K¹² curriculum. At the same time, I was honored to serve as an “on-call” expert of sorts for the parents when they themselves hit as stone wall with their children. I recall many conversations where the parent and learning coach would ask for my advice when their discipline methods were failing. Others would just need some encouragement that the types of behavior and learning patterns they were seeing in their maturing youngsters was normal.
I was able to help these folks because the K¹² model allowed me to spend one-on-one time with parents and students on the phone and in Elluminate (about an hour a month). By the end of the school year, I had spent around 8 or 9 hours of time working directly with these families – not counting the time we spent with each other at outings and other events. This was something I was never able to do in a brick and mortar setting where I was lucky to carve out 5 or 10 minutes with a parent twice a year on teacher/parent conference night. That was the kind of relationship I dreamt of while teaching in the traditional setting and why I remember my teaching experience at a K¹² school so fondly. It was awesome and I miss it.
What kind of relationship do you have with your child’s teachers?