Most things in life are seen through the prism of one’s experiences. Most situations we encounter we judge based upon our own perspective. In schools, students, parents, teachers, bus drivers, custodians, and administrators have their own perspective on school issues. Every issue may seem very clear cut to one person and another person may see them very different based upon their own perspective.
The key to helping each other is to understand the perspective of the other person. Sometimes we may still disagree, but it helps to understand why the other person views a particular situation differently than we do. One example that many people have differing opinions and perspectives concerns homework. Many teachers, especially math teachers, see homework as a crucial component of the students’ education. Spending time studying and trying to complete problems on their own allows teachers to see where students struggle, therefore allowing them to help the students more effectively. However, many parents see homework as an additional burden in an already busy schedule. Many parents believe school work should be done at school and work assigned outside school is cutting in on their family time. While it is true that the two sides may not agree on the homework issue, understanding the perspective of each other may establish some common ground. Both parents and teachers want the student to receive a quality education, but opinions may differ as to the best way to accomplish this outcome. The ways to achieve the goal may be different but if we are both striving for the same goals we may be more tolerant of the other view point.
The homework example is just one example of how perspective skews our way of thinking. For people such as me that have worked their entire lives in a school, things that seem very normal may seem very strange to those who have not worked in a school. Just like any job, we do not truly understand how things work behind the scenes until we do the job. We all have friends and family that work in institutions with which we have regular dealings. Sometimes after having things explained to us, many things make much more sense than they did on the surface. The only answer to solving many of the world’s problems is effective communication.
Our school has many tools to communicate with parents such as Twitter, e-mail, Remind, and the website just to name a few. Unfortunately, many of these methods are one way communication which do not allow parents to speak back with us. We sometimes administer surveys which a very small percentage of parents decide to take but the surveys do give us some feedback. Many times we are asked questions at school functions and despite what many people believe, we do not hate questions. Actually we had rather answer a question than for rumors to spread that are grossly inaccurate. I recently heard of a rumor that the principal decides which classification our school is in terms of athletics. For example the principal decided to move us to 5A from 4A. Of course nothing could be further from the truth, but somehow this rumor had started. I only heard about this rumor after a grandparent asked a board member about the issue at a ball game. This is an example of miscommunication and the school having no idea of the misinformation that existed.
Our school officials, we rely on parents and community members to be our ears when it comes to school matters. We truly want questions from the parents and community because we want our supporters to know the truth and not false information. Any organization struggles with public misinformation and perception and schools are no exception. We will continue to try and make ourselves more accessible and hopefully working together we can improve the communication between home and school.
We constantly look for ways to improve parental input, but we know everyone is very busy and attending formal activities may be difficult. We have tried things such as “Breakfast with the Principal” but only two parents signed up so we discontinued the program. I know that parents have a perspective that school workers do not have. We want to listen to our parents but are constantly looking for a method to make it convenient for parents to provide the feedback. We encourage our parents to call, e-mail, or come by and see us when you have an idea that you may think could improve our school.