Friday, November 22, 2013

Building a Village #SAVMP

As teachers, we cannot educate our kids alone. I am often awed when I think about how limited my own experiences are, and how important it is to bring varying points of view into my own students' learning. My students and I are lucky to be surrounded by such a diverse population within our school and community.

One of our greatest resources is the wide-range of perspectives our parents can bring to our school community. As a middle school teacher, it isn't often we get parent volunteers in our classrooms, as this is often mortifying for our adolescents. But, our school is really great at engaging parents outside of the classroom.

Last week we hosted two major events that attracted a lot of parents. The first, our annual Reading Night, invited parents to learn about reading strategies they could use at home with their children. This was completely organized by rum teachers, but the students were really at the center of the event. The teachers and students worked with parents to guide them through fun and powerful fluency-building activities that could be used at home.

For the middle school portion of this evening, we have four times as many students as parents for the session. The students demonstrated our readers theater and repeated reading strategies. They answered parent questions and guided them through the lessons. It was amazing to see our students engage with adults with such confidence.
PPPCS Reading Night
Two days later we hosted our school's first ever Astronomy Night. This event was very special because it was nurtured out of our FedEx Professional Development Day. Our science teacher, and novice astronomer, wanted to marry his passion for space and our schools amazing Sky Lab open roof-top space. Thus, Astronomy Night was born.

This event attracted enough people to completely fill our science lab. For two hours parents and children rotated through the never-dying line to look at the moon through a telescope. Many people there told me this was the first time they had looked at anything in the night's sky through a telescope. Children and adults alike were in awe of the power of both technology and our natural universe.

PPPCS Astronomy Night
At a time in history when we have more information and resources available than ever before, we need not overlook the power that comes from gathering a community together. Parents are the most powerful force in our students lives. They love them more than we will ever be able to, so we must partner with them to help foster experiences and growth in our kids. We must help grow our parents through new experiences, support them in learning, and guide them in helping our students in all areas of life.

How are we encouraging parents to grow alongside their children? How do we empower our parents to be a connected resource for our school community? How we provide opportunities for our village to build an unshakable foundation in the vision of supporting our students? If your school lacks parental involvement, how do you tap into your parents' collective passions to build a village and strengthen learning?

As we move into the holiday season, remember that parents often need support and encouragement just as much as our students. Offering opportunities to bring parents together, build community, and connect people can have an intense impact on the work we all do with our kids. Remember that a kind word, a short note, and smile and invitation to be part of something bigger can provide opportunities to cement a foundation of strength for our families.

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