Several weeks ago, I was chatting with an acquaintance about school. Our school. The one our children attend classes in each day. Our district, like all others, has a plan for the future, and everyone is adjusting to change. Sometimes, it’s hard to know how to help. It’s hard to know how to ask difficult questions, and it’s hard to know how to get good answers. There isn’t enough time and there isn’t enough space, and parents don’t often get together in any organized way to learn more about how they can help their kids better.
“I was a teacher,” my friend reminded me again that afternoon, “and I can tell you from experience that teachers just want parents to lend a hand, respect what they do, and go with the flow. I couldn’t stand parents who made my life difficult.”
I get that. I do. I was a teacher for a long time, and I’ve dealt with my fair share of unreasonable and unsupportive parents. But I’m a mom first, and I think that there has to be a way for reasonable and supportive parents to collaborate around education issues that matter most to them. We need to learn more from one another about how to help our kids, and we need to define nonthreatening ways to approach teachers and administrators in order to create real change. We only get to do this parenting thing once, and I’d hate to think that we don’t act in the best interests of our children because we’re more concerned about what others might think about us.
Parents need to know how to inform themslves best, and they need communities to share information within too. Parent-Teacher organizations are fabulous, but I’m thinking about a different sort of community. I’m thinking about a learning community for parents. In fact, I’m not just thinking about one. I’m inviting parents in my school community to start one, and I’m hosting the first very informal get-together at my house in January.
I’m volunteering to do this–it’s not about my business. It’s about using the best of what I know to give back in ways that might help locally. I think there is something potentially powerful about capitalizing on the combined expertise that parents have about kids and schools and learning. I also think that there is something potentially powerful about providing parents information that can help them act as better advocates for their children.
I’m hoping that parents from my community will find the time to come, and I’m planning to invite area teachers and adminstrators as well, to provide our little group some much needed perspective about how to help our kids while treating the great people who work in our schools with the respect that they deserve.
If you would like to come, just shoot me an email. The more the merrier! If you’ve done something similar in your own community, please share your ideas in the comments section below. Right now, this is just a seed of an idea….I’m eager to see how it may grow.