As a teacher, you have a vision for education. Do you sometimes wish you could work more closely with parents to achieve your goals? In this video, Mark, Martha, and Matt remind us that we must make sure we are investing in the parents’ goals. They describe attitudes that have helped them support the community’s vision–and in turn experience the community’s support for the school.
How do you prove relationships with parents? You’re busy as a teacher. You don’t have time for it.
I think probably one of the largest changes for me is as a as a new teacher I saw myself there—I mean yes, I was there to assist the parents but I was also going to help the students if the parents were deficient. And that just doesn’t work. I don’t see any direct scriptural mandate for the Christian school. So, we’re here as a school only because the church and the parents want us.
It doesn’t matter so much if students like me or not so much but I do, I really do care if parents like me.
And so we really do need to work at “How can we serve the parents?”
I try to make sure that they know that I care. Some of the things I do: for absences, say, so a parent comes and says, “Well, we’ve got some family thing. Can my child be off school this day?” Well, I really do groan inside but I try to be as nice as possible. I try to give as well as I can on places that I really think are unnecessary but I try to give as well as I can as much as possible on things like that.
I try to keep parents current with what’s happening at school.
I just like to keep the relationship open with the parents. My parents pretty much know that if I have an issue with their child at school I’m going to come talk to them. To me that is one way to keep your relationships current. Like, they know that they’re not going to come to PTF and I’m going to just load them with all sorts of grief that I’m experiencing at school that they had no idea is happening.
For PTF conferences I serve tea and coffee and most or half of them don’t take tea or coffee because it’s in the evening and they don’t want caffeine or something. But I think it’s just a really small gesture that here’s someone who sort of cares.
Parents really do care about their children. Even if they say they don’t care about education. There’s very few parents that really don’t care if their children can’t read very well. They care about that. Even if they say they don’t. They might not care about high school but they care about a basic education.
They’re my friends. They trust me. I know what they want, know why they send their children here to school and what they expect from me as a teacher. And they know what to expect from me because I’ve been here for a long time.
Is it a place where it feels like my students—my children are being taught values that I want them to? They’re respectful. They interact well with other children.
I mean, if school is a place where there’s bad attitudes and there’s just issues coming up that really are tearing down what we as a family want to teach—want to have happening in our family, there’s not going to be much energy for the school.
But if it feels like the school is promoting what we’re pushing at home, that can help.
And maybe we need to help them think about it because they don’t—as parents we don’t always sit around thinking, “Now what do I want for my children?” So maybe as a teacher you can help parents think about that.
Don’t fight the parents too much. Yes you have to—I mean, that happens sometimes. You might have a parent. But if you’re really having your own agenda that you’re trying to push here and you’re not bringing the community along it’s not going to work.
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CONTRIBUTOR: Martha Stoltzfus
CONTRIBUTOR: Mark Fisher
CONTRIBUTOR: Matt Peachey