Today Deborah Meire responded to Pedro Noreague’s last post about school reform. Here are some key lines that I want to respond to.
What we need to start with is a consensus that schools have to raise kids alongside their families; they have to join together on behalf of building a generation of strong citizens with powerful and unrelenting habits of mind, habits that provide for their own well-being and that of their families, communities, and nation. Maybe the planet’s. That to do all this we need schools that treat teachers, students, parents, and neighbors respectfully, as though they have things to learn from each other and the power to carry out their ideas. They must never settle for viewing “other people’s children” differently than their own. We also need trustworthy information that will help us all compare and contrast. We will probably not be surprised that small class size helps, that more time devoted to family conferences helps, that teachers need professional colleagues and the time to work together, etc.
Me: I couldn’t agree more with the collaboration between home and school and the deep respect for each role that is mentioned. I have seen the power of connecting home and school both for the well being of student and family but also for the direct relationship to student achievement. When a parent feels they can talk to the teacher, even incrementally (I did say talk…I am not sure if that means email. Of course if that is the way that talk can happen then so be it. Email comes with its inherent issues and cannot be trusted to convey tone especially in charged situations. I also see an increase in “adult bullying” through this venue. Too many times we go beyond the limits of what we would say in person when we communicate electronically.) with teachers trust is built. Trust…then love, makes the world go around. Trust is built around competence and transparent communication. Engaging families, students, teachers, administrators and community in dialogues and actions that invite parents into our work and inform our practice, building respect, excitement, common vision is crucial to this work of raising kids together. Practically: Do parents know about key ways we teach in our schools? Could they identify them? To what degree do they want to know about it and how can you make that relevant to you families? Do we state clearly our ways of learning in a school so anyone who walks in can see it? Do we invite all members of the community to on-going discussion and activity around this work? Does this work instill a sense of deep pride and excitement about the school. These qualities are essential to truly view “other peoples children” as all of our children.
My next post will deal with this divide between communities and what blinds us to see other peoples’ children have or don’t have and why we should care.