Saturday, March 12, 2011

NH Partnership for Education Conference

Today I had the pleasure of speaking at the NH Partnership for Education Conference, an annual conference put on by the NH Parent Information and Resource Center (PIRC).  This year's theme was "Schools and Beyond--The Power of Family-School-Community Partnerships."

Just when I think I am comfortable with a topic, something always changes my thinking, and for that I am forever grateful.  Today I walked in prepared to address educators about how to create classrooms with no walls--how to extend student learning into the community and help encourage parents become more active participants in education.  But only half of my audience was made up of educators.  The other half consisted of librarians, community members, parents, afterschool program directors, administrators, and family/home liasons.  At first I wasn't sure how to proceed, but when these people began to talk, it became clear to me.

Parents and community members want to know HOW to extend classroom walls...they want to know how they can help and not be "another thing" for teachers to juggle.  They want, desperately, to be involved and to invite students out into the world.  They want these partnerships.  I've been preaching that teachers need to create these partnerships, but today was a reminder that the educational process has many stockholders in it, and all of those stockholders need to have a voice. Sometimes all of our desires are the same...but we forget to communicate them.

So teachers--remember to make time to extend your students' learning into the real world and invite parents (because they truly care about their children's education, whether they show it the way you would like them to or not) into your classroom experiences.
And parents--ask your teachers how you can support them.  How can you bring relevant material to the classroom that you are passionate about and tie it into what they are already learning?

Together, we can create partnerships that benefit all involved parties and remind the world what is good about education.

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