You have used an interesting phrase to describe your internal conflict, suggesting that if you are not part of the solution then you are part of the problem. I would counter that claim by asserting that if you recognize a problem exists, you are already part of the solution. Simply recognizing that parents need to become more involved in the education of their kids is a pretty big deal in a world where more parents pay for their kids to see a concert than take the inside a bookstore for free! (Noel, Stark & Redford 2015). In other words: don’t be so hard on yourself.
You are a committed, active, involved educator trying to do a good job in a world that is changing so fast it is sometimes hard to keep up. I keep going back to that guest speaker last year who said boasted about how his research had turned up nearly 4,000 different articles and studies and reports that had something to say about the connection between getting parents into the classroom and sending the kids out into the world better equipped to deal with it (Afolabi 2014). Remember how the very idea of reading all that stuff make our heads spin? I think what you are experiencing is a little bit of residue left over from that guy. You don’t need 4,000 different studies to confirm what you already know. In fact, you may only need one.
I recently came across a fascinating article (wonder if it was one that guy’s 4,000) about how to get parents more involved. Believe it or not, but the conclusion indicated workshops were one of the most popular activities. Yeah, I know, I was skeptical, too, until they immediately used the example of offering “the opportunity to learn how to construct a story with their children” (Hara & Burke 2015). I think we both agree that if there one aspect of all those studies that we know from experience to be absolutely true in the real world here inside the school, it is that when we can get the parents to start showing a little interest—and even excitement—in what we’re trying to teach, the kids of those parents start becoming more interested and even maybe a little more excited, too (Pavalache & Tirdia 2015).
Here’s my solution to your problem. It’s modest, I know, but I also know how great you are teaching kids how to create stories. Okay, next to getting parents to actually come here and talk to us, what is the single biggest obstacle we have to face as far their taking part goes? Exactly: making those kids do their homework. You and I both know there’s tons of reason for parents to shirk that job, but I must admit to doing a little more reading and while I disagree 100% with some of what these guys say, I absolutely with their contention that when it comes to make kids do their homework, attitude is everything (Matei & Ciascai 2015). As far as I’m concerned, once you get the parents in here to show off your magic in turning every student who can lift a pencil into a storyteller, you’re going produce generations of parents who start taking a better attitude toward getting those kids to get your homework assignments done.
Okay, I know it’s exactly the earth-shattering revolutionary kind of advice you probably wanted to hear. And I’ll be frank. If I lived a thousand years I could not possibly come up with anything that is going to suddenly make you think you are part of a solution that is going to have a big time impact on getting these parents to finally start realizing we can’t do this job alone. But we can do two important things: we can get the parents involved as best we can and by doing that we can also educate those parents. If we can just find a little bit of success in attempting those two things, the result is always good (Lau, 2013).
You are part of the solution. And you will only become part of the problem when you stop trying.
- Afolabi, OE 2014, ‘Parents’ Involve and psycho-educational Development of Learners with Special Educational Needs (SENs): An Empirical Review’, International Journal Of Early Childhood Special Education, 6, 2, pp. 177-203
- Hara, S. and Burke, D. (2015). Parent Involvement: The Key To Improved Student Achievement. School Community Journal, [online] 8(2), pp.219-228. Available at: http://www.adi.org/journal/ss01/chapters/Chapter16-Hara&Burke.pdf [Accessed 9 Nov. 2015].
- Lau, W (2013), ‘Examining a Brief Measure of Parent Involvement in Children’s Education’, Contemporary School Psychology (California Association of School Psychologists), vol. 17, no.1, pp. 11-21
- Matei, Ş. and Ciascai, L. (2015). PRIMARY TEACHERS OPINION ABOUT HOMEWORK. Acta Didactica Napocensia, 8(3), pp.29-36.
- Noel, A., Stark, P., and Redford, J. (2015). Parent and Family Involvement in Education, From the National Household Education Surveys Program of 2012 (NCES 2013-028.REV), National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC. Retrieved [13 December 2015] from http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch.
- Pavalache, M. & Tirdia, F., 2015. Parental Involvement and Intrinsic Motivation with Primary School. Elsevier Science, Volume 187, pp. 607-612.