Monday, March 31, 2008

Investing in Parents

I have four sons, each of whom is now at school. Unfortunately, I do not feel terribly informed about my children's education, as parents are being excluded from the daytime learning. And when I look back at my own teaching, I'm alarmed by how little I kept parents 'in the loop'.

My rights as a parent should go beyond a 10-minute parent-teacher conference, and a quarterly report card filled with meaningless grades and comments extracted from a menu.

I'd like to see the full curriculum placed online for me to peruse and discuss with my children, and I'd like access to their assessment calendar and criteria by which they will be assessed. And I don't think I'm being unreasonable, as I'm tired of seeing the drop off of interest from parents as their children pass by the early years of education.

Many teachers would argue that there's no point informing parents because most wouldn't be interested, but I don't think that that justifies a closed curriculum.

Other teachers would argue that it's just not possible, as time and resources wouldn't permit. However, with great tools like moodle, wikis and Google Sites, we should be planning our curriculum online from the outset, and then opening this up to parents. In fact, why aren't parents invited into the planning process? And the students too, for that matter?

I'm very proud of the way that I.S. 339 is opening up the school and hosting a Parent Expo, and I think we need to welcome parents back into schooling more often and in more imaginative ways. I would love to see one of my sons' classes ustreamed, or see a few more of their projects on the web. I'd welcome them to blogging, and would happily Skype in to their classrooms to facilitate a group session.

It's wrong that parents are 'left out in the cold' - only called in to pass time and offer up voluntary hack work at Parent meetings, or to sell a few raffle tickets when some fundraising is required.

As teachers, we're quick to complain about 'parents who don't care', but we haven't been as hasty in opening up the school to parents who do.

Sorry to be posting negative thoughts, as I try very hard not to do this. I just wish that we could make more of the parent capital in our school communities.

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