Sunday, January 13, 2013

Learning Communities: Families?

Learning communities include students, educators, support staff, families, and community members.  The learning community includes a student's home, community, and the many educational resources in real time and online, esources such as websites, museums, local businesses, land preserves and parks.

As we move from the notion and structure of school to the broader idea of learning communities, I'm wondering what the family role is?

Long ago, when most moms were stay-at-home moms, schools were filled with parent volunteers and moms who had time to help out. Their presence helped to define and communicate their many roles with clarity. Today, however, families bring new schedules, needs, investment and ideas to the learning community.

What are the needs, roles and responsibilities of families in learning communities today?

I offer the following suggestions:
  • Respectful voice, concern, and education with regard to new tools, curriculum expectations and student coaching. That might include the following:
    • School councils (parent-teacher-community members--currently in place in MA)
    • Orientations
    • Student-Family Coaching Sessions to teach new tools, strategies and practice
  • Expectation lists created by the learning community council.  A list of expectations so that families understand their role in a broad sense.
  • Family-friendly school schedules, activities and supports.
  • Streamlined and concise communication.
All members of the learning community are integral pieces of the education puzzle, and as we move towards creating conditions of excellence with regard to student learning, it is essential that we support and develop this community with strength.