Tuesday, September 23, 2008
You talk, I listen. Parent Leadership 101
My definition of a parent leader in education includes two basic characteristics: one who listens and one who can bring others to a meeting or event.
I constantly have to explain, even to colleagues I work with, that I don't see leadership as something that happens after we have done basic parenting classes, and reviewed the responsibilities of parents etc. I'm really not interested in providing a full array of workshops on how to be a good parent. Families must lead and partner with schools to provide a great education for all children.
Leadership is integrated into every aspect of our work. It is fluid, organic and relational. Rather than search for and support an assertive and public spokesperson we want to nurture a community of families that are mutually supportive and that collectively act to have the best possible neighborhood for all children.
Example: An early activity in our series of meetings is Peer Listening. Paired off participants interview each other:
1. What do you think about the quality of your children’s education?
¿Qué piensa sobre la calidad de la educación que estan recibiendo sus hijos?
2. What do you think needs to be done to improve the schools?
¿Qué son las cosas que usted piensa se necesitan mejorar en las escuelas?
3. What do you expect from your children’s teachers?
¿Qué espera de los maestros de sus hijos?
4. What positive things is your school doing to support parent participation? ¿Qué cosas positivas esta haciendo sus escuelas para apoyar la participación de los padres?
5. What more should schools be doing to have more parent participation?
¿Qué mas deben hacer las escuelas para tener mas participación de los padres?
6. What else would you like to tell us about your schools, the education your children are receiving or about parent participation?
¿Qué otra cosa nos quiere decir sobre las escuelas, la educación que estan recibiendo sus hijos, o la participación de los padres?Their homework is to interview other families and report their findings at the next session.
Emerging parent leaders become careful listeners, which also increases their ability to invite and bring other parents to meetings. Being listened to is a very powerful way to build assets within the community and greatly increases the chances that the one listened to will accept an invitation and actually show up at a meeting.
Our family leaders in education listen to other parents and can get two or more people to attend a meeting.
The first class session in parent leadership in education, 101, has just ended.
Go, interview and invite.