Because schools are an integral part of a much larger community and represent an important hub in those communities, it can be helpful for teachers and educators to have access to information and resources that offer insight into the community, especially if they do not live in it.
Teachers, educators, parents and guardians all lead complex, demanding, and busy lives which can pose a challenge to engage in broad parental involvement or engagement beyond the formal, special events that occur in a school year. Furthermore, as a general rule, involvement and engagement of parents and guardians in day-to-day matters of school life often drops off dramatically in secondary schools. However, that gradual process can begin in the transition between the early and later elementary years. Doubtless, there are a host of variables that influence this change in pattern of involvement and engagement, not least of which can be students’ growing sense of independence and their desire to make decisions. It is important to understand that while the direct involvement of parents may evolve over time, teachers and educators should still continue to engage them.
We can, as teachers and educators, make use of every existing formal occasion and structure (e.g., parents’ nights, parent-teacher nights and orientation sessions, school councils, Parent Involvement Committees) and informal opportunities to offer parents and guardians meaningful ways to contribute to the school community – ways that respect everyone’s valuable and limited time, energy and resources.
When schools and teachers listen carefully and hear the concerns of parents/guardians, they open themselves up to new possibilities for authentic parent engagement that move the relationship beyond traditional notions of parent involvement. Parents and guardians can make meaningful contributions to the school community in ways that support and respect the role and work of teachers and school leaders.