Saturday, July 16, 2011

Stimulating Conversations

I met with another group of Tacomans last night....Good conversation.

Like everybody, these folks want good schools for all the students of Tacoma, in all the neighborhoods of the city.  They also understand that teachers and school staffs are essential to the delivery of quality education.  Education bureaucracy does not teach.  Forums and panels do not teach.  People teach, and they do better at teaching when they have effective and trusting relationships to those they're teaching.

That's why one of my primary goals as a board member will be to create opportunities for school staffs to have some more contact--outside of school time--with the families of their schools' neighborhoods.  When people work together, that is, undertake tasks together, things get done and relationships get stronger.  And better relationships allow for the undertaking of even more work together.

I'm not saying that one Saturday morning work party at the school is going to raise this year's MSP scores at a school.  But a consistent commitment to working together--expressed in actual work undertaken--will stimulate involvement and engagement, and these will help academic performance for more kids.


Bea said...

Sounds nice, but for the investment of time outside of school, this would not accomplish much. The parents who would turn out for a work party are the type of parents who are already involved. Would the staff (not staffs) be paid for this extra time or be voluntary?
Wouldn't this time be more productive if there was one hour set aside each week right after school for some one-on-one with an individual student that would provide some time to review where they need help, tudor, general councelling, or discuss how to help that student. There should be a room set aside in the school by the office where this could be done privately but with a door open to another area where people are present or a room with a two way mirror to record the session. It should allow for private and uninterupted conversation but without the risk of liability for student or teacher.
This way the teacher can see how each of his students learns, how their home life influences their learning, and grows a bond of loyalty and respect for the student with the teacher.

Andrew Milton said...

Yes, to all this, AND I'm not thinking so much of work parties, but other support activities that the staffs (of the various different schools, so plural to connote numerous schools) could get involved in.

For instance, there is an organization in Tacoma that has done parent support nights, with a meal, and had good success in supporting families in this way. I would like the staff members of the school that hosts the event to also participate. That's what I mean by staff connection to the support activities.

Jon said...

The diversity of ideas about how to improve our public school's results is encouraging, but unfortuantely most speak from the experience of the past; anywhere from a few years ago, to decades back. I consistently read about ideas to improve results from those who try to implement them from the management level down to the teacher in the classroom. Yet, I NEVER find anyone talking about asking those very teachers what they understand from the "trenches" would work best. After all, it is they who work directly with the children and not the administrators in some distant central office. For 30 years of my public ed. career, it was extremely rare for any administrator to say to me, "We hired you because we trust your skills and ability to know what will be the most effective for the students you teach. What do you need from us to support your being the most effective with them?"