In your reading this week, Souto-Manning and Swick described strategies that promote positive relationships between home and school. In many of our case studies, you may have noticed a leading problem is lack of shared understanding between parents and teachers or administrators. What problems can occur when culture or economic differences create this separation and gap between the school and home? Add to the journal article’s link which is under the question for discussion by suggesting some proactive ways in which the gaps caused by these varying perspectives can be addressed, minimized, or even eliminated.
Respond to students responses
There are many problems that can occur when culture and or economic differences create separation and a gap between school and home. Once of those problems are teacher beliefs. A teacher’s beliefs can cause dissonance between parents and teachers. According to Souto-Manning & Swick (2006), “many parents are isolated from success because their patterns of relating and interacting with their children do not fit the school culture (Fine, 1994)” (188). Therefore; as a teacher, my beliefs in how parents should be involved with their children may not be accounting for “resource differences in and across parent and family contexts (Tushnet, 2002)” and “does not validate the many rich cultural habits of parents and families as at the use of visual and oral traditions” (Souto-Manning & Swick, 2006, 188).
Those are traditional paradigms on parent involvement. Instead, teachers should be viewing parent involvement in a new light. For example, the definition of parent involvement needs to be rethought. Right now, if a parent doesn’t meet the current definition of parent involvement, then they are considered parents who don’t care about their children. In reality, teachers should be “emphasizing the existing power of parents and families, and create empowerment strategies where they can use their skills and talents in diverse, and culturally responsive modes” (Souto-Manning & Swick, 2006, 188). By doing so, we have created a new definition of parent involvement. A new definition could be: “parents can best help their children succeed in school when they know how to foster and connect the learning in the home environment with the learning in school” (Souto-Manning & Swick, 2006, 190).
After reading this article, it made me realize that I do not do enough to involve my student’s parents and would like to do more. One thing that I am doing in my classroom that helps involve the parents is by celebrating holidays. I involve parents in how we celebrate it by asking for advice and/or feedback on how we should go about celebrating it. At the beginning of the school year, I sent out holiday survey to my parents, asking them if they would be okay with their children learning about different cultures through celebrating holidays. The response was overwhelmingly positive. A few weeks ago, we celebrated the holiday, Diwali. Since I don’t celebrate Diwali at home, I contacted my student’s parents that stated that they did celebrate Diwali and if they could help me plan our celebration. We only touched on the surface level of Diwali, since there are strong religious ties to it, but the celebration was an absolute success. I had parents thanking me for bringing their culture into the school, which positively affected both their school environment, but their home environment, as well.
As teachers, our experiences as both former students and (possibly) parents of school-aged children colors our views of parent-teacher relations. Often times, we run our classroom the way our favorite teachers did or, on the other hand, the opposite of how our least-favorite teachers did. In some cultures, the teacher is seen as the dominant figure and decision-maker for the child. Whatever the teacher says or believes is gospel. That perspective has been changing; the shift is now towards teachers working in tandem with parents.
There is much research about the connection between school and home. The more involved a family is with the child’s education the more successful that child will be. “Parents who engage in home-based learning rituals seem to have a positive effect on children’s school success” (Souto-Manning and Swick, 2006). Families of lower socioeconomic status often do not have this luxury of being involved due to work schedules or child care necessities. Unfortunately, teachers may see this as proof of a family’s indifference towards that child’s school success. Traditional views of family involvement does not automatically mean it is a full, current view of how involved families actually are. There is much going on behind the scenes that teachers are not privy to, which is exactly why teachers and parents need to have open communication via a chosen method.
According to Souto-Manning and Swick, “teachers often interpret lower involvement and visibility at school as lack of interest” without considering language barriers and cultural differences. The case of Tomasito comes to mind; his mother wanted to be involved, but her struggle with the English language and the American “ways of doing things” was confusing and overwhelming to her. In Latino culture, teachers make the educational decisions and not the parents.
The growing immigrant population reflects a need for “linguistically and socioculturally appropriate educational experiences” ( Souto-Manning and Swick, 2006). Teachers need to be more open minded and have multiple avenues of communication.
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