It Takes A Village
I believe that establishing effective and positive relationships is a significant factor in developing high functioning schools and promoting student success. Students, parents, and teachers all need to have a mutual feeling of trust and understanding with each other. John C. Maxwell summarized this belief saying: “Students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” While I believe the relationship between students, teachers and parents is paramount, I have come to believe the relationship needs to be extended.
Shared Vision of Learning
The Alberta Education document, Inspiring Education, suggests that schools must engage the entire community in the process of educating students. The community should not be limited to parents, students, and teachers. Rather, schools must engage the entire community in the process. Laurel Beaton (Twitter: @laurelbeaton) suggests that by engaging the entire community a shared vision of learning can be achieved. In addition, a shared responsibility for learning will result.
The shared vision and shared responsibility for learning is a significant component of learning in the 21st Century. The process of learning has become more important than the content students learn. Students who sit in my class have immediate access to more information than I could ever think to provide to them. However, they need practice in developing the skills to access this information in such a way so as to solve complex problems and share their findings with a wide network of people. When a shared vision of learning exists, all community members can have input regarding the skills which they deem to be important for our students who will enter the work force in the near future. By sharing a vision of learning, schools can better prepare students for what they will face outside the classroom.
Us vs. Them
I sometimes feel that the world of education is an us vs. them mentality. It seems that the public is sometimes at odds with the teachers and vice versa. This troubles me quite a bit. Are we not all in this together? I would suggest that a shared vision of learning will remove the adversarial relationship that sometimes exists in regards to education. I am not suggesting that it will be easy nor immediate. However, we must be willing to take the first steps in furthering our community connection. This should not be left to school leaders, policy makers, or the public alone. This is a shared process and must include everyone. We will all need to be vulnerable and admit we don’t have all the answers. It will take an open and honest debate. Even though this prospect seems daunting, are our students not worth it? After all, are we not all in this together?
Have a great day,