The New Face of Parent Teacher Collaboration
Oct 1, 2009 Other 3164 Views
When parents get involved in the academic (and other) aspects of their child's school life, a certain kind of magic happens. A new partnership is formed between the parents, teachers and the child, and the entire schooling process takes on a richer, revitalized meaning.
More and more parents are beginning to realize that home and school are not so separate a set of concepts, after all. The message that a big number of success stories bears is simply this - such partnerships mark the turning point in a child's life. This is true academically, emotionally and in terms of all-round development.
This new breed of parents has shed the silo mentality of yesteryears and adopted the collaboration model. To be sure, it is not easy for some of them - especially the ones whose children have not been doing well at school, sometimes due to learning disabilities - have to first overcome some negative emotions. Such parents are very averse to attending local PTA meetings and interacting with their child's teachers personally. This is the result of the disappointment, anger and feelings of inadequacy, which lead to a chronic us-versus-them mentality.
With increasing parent involvement in their child's school life, new ways of helping the child do better academically rapidly emerge. The idea is for parents to generate the willingness to work in tandem with their child's school, rather than as silent and often hostile watchdogs of the school authorities. This is sometimes easier said than done - the confrontational and defensive attitudes in many parents do not go away easily. A certain 'buffering' distance is at first necessary, while at the same time opening up lines of communication between parents and teachers.
Interactive portals for parents and teachers are a new method for them to communicate. The adversarial element is effectively dealt with by negating the need for face-to-face meetings at first. Later, when new levels of trust between parents and teachers have been established, these portals provide a means for them to interact, exchange valuable insights into the child's home and school life, and plan remedial measures when required.
When parents, teachers and school administrators learn to work symbiotically to address the child's academic issues, a once murky and confusing picture attains vital clarity. Often, parents lose their aggressiveness; they begin to understand that teachers and school authorities are on the same page as they are. Often, parents lack the qualities that trained educational professionals have - qualities such as a rational perspective, perseverance and patience. By the same coin, many teachers are unaware of a particular child's special problems.
Of course, interactive parent teacher portals and forums should not replace personal one-on-one interactions entirely. The final objective is a breaking down of ALL barriers, including those of distance. While online tools remain the only means for parents and teachers in thinly-spread countries like Australia and New Zealand to communicate, nothing can replace the efficacy of regular attendance of local PTA meetings and informal visits to the child's school.