Building Community Trust in Urban Schools is Hard Work
Editor's note: Over the few days, we have published guest postings by Renee Moore and Larry Ferlazzo on how teachers view parent engagement in public schools. Today, Larry responds to Renee's posting.
Renee’s point about how teachers are intimately involved with parents on a day-to-day basis outside of school in her rural area is a good one. In many (if not most?) urban schools, teachers never see parents (or their students) in a non-school situation since most of us don’t live in the same communities where we teach.
I’d say that rural-urban difference emphasizes the particular need for urban schools to embrace home-visiting by teachers and/or other types of “engagement” efforts. The personal trust that parents have for Renee and her colleagues in their rural community, I think, is less likely to occur in areas without that kind of personal contact.
I was told once about a supposedly old Chinese saying – “A person has to stand with their mouth open for a long time before a roast duck is going to fly into it.” The level of trust Renee describes has to be developed. It won’t happen “magically,” especially when many parents of our students might not have had a positive experience in their own school life.
At another urban school where I did my student-teaching, I would hear some teachers use, as Renee writes, the “lack of parental involvement…as an excuse for low-expectations.” I would also hear some of these same teachers say that one of the reasons they liked teaching at the school was because they didn’t have to “deal with parents” (without any indication that they saw a contradiction in their statements).
I would like to think, though, that in most instances it’s not a matter of “good” teachers wanting to make those kinds of trusting connections to children and to their families, and “lazy” teachers not wanting to do so. Instead, I think the responsibility lies on those of us who believe parent engagement is important to help other teachers see that it is in their own self-interest to make those kinds of connections and that it will help them achieve their own goals to do so.
By first making those kinds of trusting connections with our colleagues, and learning their hopes and dreams, we can take the first steps towards helping them see that they might be able to reach them by connecting in a different way with their students and their families.
Click here to browse dozens of Public School Insights interviews with extraordinary education advocates, including:
- 2013 Digital Principal Ryan Imbriale
- Best Selling Author Dan Ariely
- Family Engagement Expert Dr. Maria C. Paredes
The views expressed in this website's interviews do not necessarily represent those of the Learning First Alliance or its members.
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