Saturday, August 27, 2016

My New Students and their FAMILIES are all Welcome!

It has been a busy summer of reflecting, learning, and planning. With the start of the new school year a little over a week away, my focus is on my classroom and the students that will be inhabiting it for the next 10 months.

Just the other day, I came across a great blog post by +Sue Dunlop entitled "How Do You Want Families to Feel on the First Day of School?". Her post got me thinking - wondering why I have not ever really considered the 'family' on the first day (or week for that matter) of school.

Coincidentally, I found myself chatting with +Stephen Hurley that day or the next, about this very topic. Stephen was kind enough to connect with me to be on my podcast to talk about his work in education and what motivates and inspires him to do the work that he does. During our conversation we talked about School and the family context within it. Stephen offered up some ideas on how we could create a more welcoming environment for the families that belong to our school communities. Our conversation led him to write his own blog post, "Back to School: The Family Context", where he writes about some of the ideas he spoke about on the podcast around some ways that the school context could overlap with the family context. After reading his post, I started thinking about how I could help overlap the contexts in my school community. The next day I spoke to my Principal about the conversation that Stephen and I had. I told her about the idea of being more deliberate about overlapping the family context at school and sent her the link to Stephen's blog post.

My hope is that we can establish a new tradition/norm in my school community that will further assist us in building trusting and productive relationships with parents. Looking at this through the lens of the Catholic Leadership Framework, overlapping the family context and the school context would allow us to do the following:

  • demonstrate respect for parents by listening to their ideas, being open to those ideas, and genuinely considering their value
  • demonstrate respect, care and personal regard for parents 
  • create a school environment in which parents are welcomed, respected and valued as partners in their children’s learning
  • demonstrate the type of leadership that parents can trust - confident, systematic and attentive 
  • help develop staff commitment to engaging parents in the school
  • encourage staff to adopt a broad view of parental engagement and encourage more parents to be involved

We say that our Catholic Schools are the heart of the community - I think that this would be one more way to strengthen the school community by acknowledging and celebrating the family context. I look forward to revisiting this topic to blog about what my school does towards making families feel like they are truly welcome once they pass the main office.