Finding Common GroundJan 16, 2023
It does not always seem easy to connect quickly. But there is always one thing parents and educators can agree on: keeping their student first.
The beginning of the school year brings newfound joy and distress. Finding a way to arrive at common ground between groups does not have to be difficult; but you must have clarity of purpose.
When I taught, I recall one parent who hated coming to the school for meetings. She was very uncomfortable and did not have the greatest experience with schools as a student. So what did I do? I let her know I could swing by her house to meet. After 30 minutes and a hot cup of coffee, we had a common goal to better serve her son.
I must be clear: the only way I even knew this was by engaging her in conversation and asking questions in order to understand. As educators, we can often jump straight to the point and forget that we are talking with a person. This is why it is important to check your biases and stereotypes at the door – every day. Whatever is inside you…it WILL come out! If you are a parent reading this, I would challenge you with the same actions. Check your assumptions and opinions and realize that your student’s teacher is a person.
So is there a magical key that can take parent and educator collaboration to the next level? Not necessarily. However, by educating yourself and genuinely engaging with the other party, you are committing to one common goal: serving the student together. Education and engagement are the first two stages of cultural mastery. If you’re interested in learning more about this process, check out the book The 6 Stages of Cultural Mastery, by Ricardo González.
As you engage, whether you are an educator or parent, I would suggest the following topics to discuss:
- What is your student’s why? In other words, what excites them most about coming to school? This topic is important for parents and educators to consider. If we know what motivates students, we can better meet their learning needs. This question could also provide insight to educators on parental perspective of the student and vice versa.
- What does organization look and feel like for your student? The concept of organization is a lost art and permeates the lives of students into their adulthood. It can be a predictor of prioritization and productivity – ultimately impacting their success personally and professionally.
- How can I help my student ask questions? Parents and educators can work together to ensure their student can advocate for their needs by asking questions. I have often heard parents remark, “Just ask the teacher,” but their student remains silent. Sometimes it relates to self-concept and often, it is just not wanting to appear they don’t know the answer.
At the end of the day – if educators and parents are successful in their collaboration – the student will be able to attain the results desired by both parties. Students must know they are supported in order to thrive.
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