Friday, March 14, 2008

Relationships Matter

After attending a two day in-depth session on High Poverty Learners: Research Based Practices that Work I would sum it up with two words, "relationships matter."
Out of the eight strategies our presenters William Parrett and Kathleen Budge discussed 1)effective leadership, 2)engaging parents and the community, 3)holding high expectations, 4)targeting low performing students (schools), and 5)build and sustaining instructional capacity; these in one way or another deal with relationships.
Relationships between teachers and students, parents and teachers are always stressed. However, there also have to be good working relationships between teachers and the district and parents and the district. I will focus on teachers and parents however through two routes. For many reasons parents stay away from schools but when the reason a parent stays away from a school is a lack of trust we wonder how do we fix that? I say one route is through the student. If we focus on the student by setting high expectations and creating relationships with them those relationships will hopefully be mentioned at home. When a parent realizes that their students teacher truly cares and has high expectations and that the student trusts the teacher I believe the parents will do the same and thus we've accomplished engaging parents and the community.
The second would be meeting the parent where they are at, literally. One of the stories we heard was of a teacher who had every meeting with a particular parent in the school parking lot. That parent had been a drop out of the school and therefore did not trust the school. So meeting the parent where they were at was essential. Another district went door knocking to invite parents to conferences and still another held parent teacher conferences over the phone or at the students home because parents did not have the transportation to get to the school.
Building relationships is not an easy job but building them is the foundation to having an even better school.

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