Friday, January 26, 2018

We need family support and help to teach well

To teach well today, we need family support and help. We can do a much better job when we team with families. There needs to be a two-way, ongoing conversation in order to support students well. Similar to the dance we do with students as we encourage them forward, but try not to overwhelm them, we work with families to encourage their support, answer their questions, and hear and respond to their needs.

We don't want to overwhelm families, yet we do want them to know what's possible with regard to support and how they can help. Yesterday I worked with a young child who has been struggling with math. His family has really pitched in to help him achieve greater mastery in basic math skills including facts and computation. When I worked with him yesterday, I was amazed at his progress and he was so proud. His grin spread from ear to ear. To me, this reaction affirmed my regular outreach to families.

Also, when reviewing a recent assessment, I noticed that another student who was experiencing challenge demonstrated a substantial increase in his skills. In fact, he got one of the top scores in the class. He too was delighted.

As a parent myself, I know that time, energy, and support are a limited commodity. There have been times in my own parenting when I knew exactly what my children needed, but due to scheduling and personal obstacles and limitations at the time, I could not provide that support. I didn't beat myself up over that. I assessed the situation, prioritized, and did the best I could. I was thankful that educators did not judge my lack of support negatively at that time, but instead did what they could to support my child. I also realized that they had lots of other students to teach so I accepted the support possible and didn't push for more. Over time my child was able to meet the expectations and my schedule opened up as did my ability to help my child more.

Neither family members or educators can be all things, but when we can reach forward to help our children and students in ways that matter, we support their forward movement well. Our love, support, and good communication matters as imperfect and compromised as we might be from time to time. Onward.