Arborland Montessori Children's Academy, Fullerton, CA
It is a well known fact that positive and enthusiastic parental support is crucial in successful education of the child. The school can provide the best environment, state of the art materials and the finest teaching team, and still fail to achieve the goal of education without the complete confidence and support from the parent. This does not mean we expect the parent to actively help with instructions. It means that, we as the educators need to win the complete confidence and trust of the parent so the child is presented with a united front. Parental trust in the school is such an important tool and plays such a major role in education that it would be time well spent discussing how we may achieve that trust.
It would appear that trust and confidence comes only after a teacher has proved herself and has a track record. However, this is not always entirely true. There are several ways in which trust can be started very quickly, and the purpose of this article is to explore different ideas of how this may be achieved. If everyone plays an active part and makes a constructive contribution, you should be successful in achieving and maintaining an excellent trusting relationship with the parent body very soon in the school year.
1. Right from day one make a personal contact. Don't let the parent be intimidated by you, be approachable and empathetic. Empathy does not mean becoming overfriendly, it means remaining professional, but conveying to the parent you will always be on ally and try to feel what they feel about their child, see and understand their point of view, even if you do not fully agree with it.
2. Don't be intimidated by the parent no matter what demanding or unrealistic expectations they have of you. Always show yourself willing, not necessarily give in to every demand, but appear willing. This is a strong positive trait, and will help to bring a difficult parent's guard down, and you will have sown the seed of trust.
3. Never, ever get defensive if a parent brings a complaint to you even if the parent is wrong and you are right. Maintain your point of view, but convey that yes you do understand theirs. Don't feel you have to be proved right and win every battle. You don't need to win little battles; you need to win the entire war! (The war is to earn parent's trust so that they allow you and your school to educate their child.)
Parent's complaint ---- The work you are giving is too easy. (Parents only have one or two children. Many of them keep very close eyes on their children and know their child well.)
Incorrect response --- Your child cannot do all the steps required, he has to stay on what you think is easy till I am ready to move him/her. Or--- here is the difficult work see if he /she can do it with you! (Do not create a battle!)
Correct response ----thanks for bringing this to my attention, I will encourage him/her to see if more challenging work is possible. (Let the child continue what you, the teacher think needs to be done, and just throw in some harder work occasionally, don't worry if they don't get it right, as long as you are keeping track of where the child needs to be, he will catch up to where the parent wants him to be eventually) (You need to win the trust to win the war.)
Once the parent sees you are willing to see their point of view, they will leave you to get on with your work, and be supportive of your action in front of the child.
4. If you need to take a strong disciplinary action with a child, make sure you get your side of the story to the parent before the child does, and do so in a loving, gentle kind way. Never let the child see he/she has made you mad, never loose your temper. Always show love and caring even if you have to discipline the child. Showing love does not mean you give in or be all soft and a pushover. It means being firm in a kind respectful way. To get this message across always try to send the child home happy at the end of each day, no matter what strong disciplinary action was taken. Don't hold a grudge or carry it over to the next day.
5. Always let the parent see you are on their side, whatever the problem. Foster the impression that you are there to fix and help in unity with them. Never give the impression, "I don't know what else I can do help your child". No matter what the challenge, form a bond with the parent, a bond to help in partnership. Your attitude should be, "Let's see what we can do together"
6. Communicate, communicate, and communicate! You don't have to be their buddy or friend. Be approachable, and friendly while also being professional. You might think all this constant communication will be time consuming, but in fact it could possibly set you free to do your job with fewer complaints and interference from overprotective parents. Find your own method of quick communication when there is need to do so. The parent will get used to this, and as trust develops there will be less need to do it. A common mean of communication is by email, and could take up no more than 20 to 30 minutes a day. Whatever works for you is acceptable. Lack of communication is not acceptable, and will hinder you in your goal which is the overall successful education of the child, while creating a rapport with the parent.
7. If you feel the parent is being unfair, picking fault, or too demanding, don't let your ego get in the way. Remain calm, the parent gets subjective, you need to remain objective and set your ego aside at all times.
8. Two big obstacles to cultivating a trusting relationship ---- a grand ego and lack of patience. Lose your ego; fill the empty space with buckets of patience! At times it may appear that the parent is making a personal attack. This is usually never the case, and as soon as you let your ego go and appear willing, their frustration usually immediately dissipates, and typically they will work with you and not against you.
The above points worked for me and I developed my style over time. Each of you need to keep the points in mind and develop your own special style, you have that option. You do not however, have the option to be close minded, not include the parent or alienate them. Without full parental confidence we will be fighting a losing battle, and waste precious time with unnecessary explanations of our actions. It is wiser to invest time early in the year to get the parent as your enthusiastic team mate, rather than have them as annoying critics all year through! Most of you are parents and should easily able to empathize with all the hopes, fears and insecurities that accompany parenthood throughout life, and especially when you dispatch your most precious cargo into the unknown realms of a school filled with other people who will have control of them for the major part of each day.
Arborland Montessori Children's Academy specialize in <a href="http://www.arborland.com><b> before and after-school programs</b></a> that enhance students' development socially and physically. We serve <a href="http://www.arborland.com><b> students Kindergarten</b></a> through 12th grade. We believe that by offering a place where the students always feel welcome and comfortable.
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Note: This article was sent to us by: Ms. Monica Elsesser; Dr. Sueling Chen at 08192009
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