"Productive collaborations between family and school, therefore, will demand that parents and teachers recognize the critical importance of each other’s participation in the life of the child." -Sara Lawrence Lightfoot
Dan Meyer discussed "Back to School Night 2007" on his blog today. As a K-12 teacher/librarian, I participated in two of these rites of autumn this week.
I still remember how stressful it was for me, as a parent, attending Open House for my own son and daughter. A lot of information is thrown at people who may not fully understand standards and curriculum but do care very deeply about how such issues affect their children.
Among the handouts in my district was a brochure with FAQs about policies and procedures and a listing of all staff members' school email addresses and voicemail numbers. After a brief welcoming speech by the appropriate principal, parents dispersed to meet teachers and (for MS/HS) follow their child's schedule. The event ended with cookies, punch, and informal chats in the cafeteria.
If Parents' Night fosters a feeling of collaboration between teacher and parents, it's an evening well spent.
"Parents do not give up their children to strangers lightly. They wait in uncertain anticipation for an expression of awareness and interest in their children that is as genuine as their own. They are subject to ambivalent feelings of trust and competitiveness toward a teacher their child loves and to feelings of resentment and anger when their child suffers at her hands. They place high hopes in their children and struggle with themselves to cope with their children’s failures." -Dorothy H. Cohen