Summit of Trust: Collaboration between school and parents

23 November, 2021

Collaboration involves a division of responsibilities between school and family. Both teachers and parents can develop an effective collaboration.

Collaborative relationships between schools and families are increasingly being promoted as an important factor for student success and achievement. Sometimes the relationship between parents and teachers can be challenging, and collaboration between these can also be marked by tensions or misunderstandings which often lead to defensive attitudes and strong emotions. Dr Michael Thompson's interview at the Summit of Trust  highlights some steps to resolve these tensions.

Positive collaborative relationships between school and family have been shown to improve children's academic achievement, social skills and emotional well-being. When parents and teachers work as partners, children perform better at school and home. When collaboration between schools and families is encouraged, children's work habits, attitudes and grades improve. They demonstrate better social skills and a greater ability to adapt to stressful situations. When working together as partners, parents and teachers communicate more effectively and develop skills to support children's behavior and learning.

Collaboration involves a division of responsibilities between school and family, expectations and roles are not always clearly expressed and this can inevitably generate tensions. Dr. Michael Thompson points out that when parents pay for a school, their expectations and hopes are high because they are choosing that school out of a desire to meet the goal set for their child: to succeed and be physically and psychologically safe. 

Strong collaborative relationships between school and families support children's learning and their ability to develop lifelong skills and networks, while strengthening parents' ability to engage in their children's school experience.

Dr. Michael Thompson states that "for the most part, things go well: we intersect with loving parents who want their children to be part of a good community, to do well in school, are understanding and open, but sometimes we also run into more tense situations, moments of frustration about what is happening in the education system, the hopes and desires of parents and the hopes and desires of teachers can collide. Collaboration suffers when parents lose trust in the school."

What both teachers and parents can do to develop an effective collaborative relationship:

Open, clear, constructive and timely communication. 

Frequent two-way communication is important to keep in touch with what is happening at school and at home. Consistency in sharing feedback about the most important announcements, but also with student progress, parents should be  informed and involved with what is happening in the classroom.

Fair, clear and consistent classroom arrangements 

The expectations of each member of the educational collaboration (student-parent-teacher) must align.  These expectations and practices should be communicated at the beginning of the year and should be followed faithfully. Commitment to systems and consistency in expectations shows parents and students that a teacher can be trusted.

The importance of accepting and integrating feedback from each other

Parents and teachers may have different perspectives on a student's educational journey. Real feedback can only facilitate the process when both parties show openness to listening to this feedback and a willingness to integrate it in order to obtain better results.

Active listening and empathy 

Both teachers and parents have their own, well-structured value system; a vision of what would be good for the school; their expectations about the child's performance, the collaboration between school and families, and what this involves. Sometimes the process of collaboration is challenging, but a secret to success is to listen more to what others have to say and to show mutual empathy. Collaboration between school and families has a common goal: maximizing the potential of the student, and this can happen when we are ready to communicate effectively and clearly when we set common goals and synchronize our expectations when we are transparent and ready to receive and integrate feedback. 

Kinderpedia is a complete communication and management solution that significantly reduces time spent on administrative issues. As an easy-to-use application, communication with parents will be transparent and in real-time. With just a few clicks we can have complete classroom management, parents have access to personalized profiles of their children, teachers organize class timetables, upload materials, and keep real-time communication with parents.

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