As schools begin or gear up for another year of learning, we often focus on students and staff. A crucial piece to the educational puzzle: parental involvement. Yes, I’m aware that this is not earth shattering information, but I’ve noticed recently that parents are getting swept under the rug in some areas of education, and that’s not cool.
With all that being said, there is a line.
- Inviting parents to be involved in school
- Keeping parents up to date with what’s happening in schools
- Tackling parental issues once they have streamlined through the proper channels
- Helicopter parents
- “Icing out” parents because you don’t want to be bothered
- Having uber-parental involvement because they feel “entitled” / tight with a BOE member / “that’s the way it’s always been”
I’ve experienced both sides of the fence. No doubt, striking a medium is a hard task. Following the first list above seems like a no-brainer, but what happens when it’s bad news from the start?
You start clean. You lay out objectives and set one non-negotiable item: we are all here for the students.
I have been fortunate enough where I’ve had some great experiences with PTA / PTO / home-school associations. We held breakfasts, partnered up in providing teachers what they needed, and even worked with the community to generate positive buzz and foster the “we” environment.
I’ve been unfortunate to encounter the opposite. I had a parent who took it upon herself to try to micromanage everything from selling a school “spirit wear” to producing the yearbook. Overreaching is an understatement; the first year, I watched — the second year, I acted on what needed to be done. After realizing she attempted to cultivate an “us versus him” atmosphere, coupled with running to a board member whenever she didn’t her way, I essentially stripped her of everything, as she was more of a nuisance to the school than helpful. Could I have done some things differently? Of course. I am happy that it soured like this? Absolutely not. It was learning experience on both ends; now it’s shared with all of you hoping that you can avoid something like this as you begin your navigation.
Bottom line: parents, more than ever, are critical to the education of our children. Get them involved, keep them informed, and for a solid working relationship. “If you don’t” is not an option here.