Junior Sub School Manager
We. Not us and them.
When working in any environment that has such diverse people and personalities, inevitably you will have different ideas and possible disagreements on how to move forward to achieve success. There is nothing more certain. There are few working environments where this is more evident than in a large school setting. Different ideas and perspectives are always important in achieving success. This involves listening, discussing and working towards change when change is a necessity.
For me, the relationship between parents/ carers and staff is just as important as the relationships staff form with students. Although parents/ carers and staff can often come from different perspectives this relationship must be protected to ensure the best outcomes for students. And at the end of the day, we must remind ourselves of this, because the way in which we act and react directly impacts on what outcomes are achieved and students model their behaviour on our behaviour.
It is important that all stake holders attached to North Geelong Secondary College consider and understand the variety of different ideas and priorities that student, parents, other staff and those in the wider community present. These ideas and beliefs should be communicated in a way that opens the lines of communication for constructive and progressive conversations to occur rather than placing energy into ‘reactive’ and ‘defensive’ discussions.
My experience has shown me that (at times) one of the biggest barriers that can prevent a child from achieving their full potential is conflict between parents/ carers and school staff. When I talk of potential, this is not only measured by a result on a test or an assessment but potential as a team member as a leader and a positive contributor to our community. We must ensure that we equip our students with the valuable skills to achieve in the workforce and in life. Content of discussions should not be focused on what others have done wrong or who is to blame but more so on how can we acknowledge wrongdoing? Then focus on moving forward to achieve success.
Such conversations must be approached with an open frame of mind and a certain level of calmness (where possible!) If a student believes that they cannot be honest in fear of repercussions then both parents/ carers and school staff will receive a distorted version of the truth. In turn, this will impact on the ability to move forward with the student receiving the support they require. Why do I say this? For a student to face up to the music at home and be 100% honest can be challenging if the likely outcome will only end in negativity so please keep this in mind when the school contacts you with a different version of events. What music is played at home is under your control, you play a significant role in how truthful a student can be both towards you and school staff as well.
Teachers (like most others) are human. Contact home can be difficult when predicting the response that you may receive from parents and carers. Teachers take no enjoyment in contacting home to discuss areas of concerns or specific incidents that have occurred at school. Such contact should be about; this has happened, now how can we move forward? If teachers are faced with ‘challenging’ parents or carers this makes the process more difficult and a positive outcome less likely. Conversations should not be focused on ‘I am right, and you are wrong’. If they are, you’re missing the point of the conversation. I can assure you that the teacher makes no assumption about your ability to care and educate your children when making that call. In actual fact, if parents and carers are understanding and eager to move forward to minimise such behaviours, this reflects on parenting far greater than any other response.
I find it ironic that on occasions that a teacher makes contact home to discuss the lack of respect that a student has shown in a lesson only to be challenged with negativity when making the call home. If the student is within ear shot of this call, then I can assure you that this not only exacerbates the situation but also enables similar behaviour to occur in future.
Phone calls that school staff do enjoy making are those where a teacher can acknowledge an improvement in student behaviour or effort that a student has placed into a piece of work. A common phrase in teaching circles is “catch students doing the right thing”. Unfortunately, correcting others can become second nature, so to praise the efforts of others is something that we should place greater effort into acknowledging as students, parents/ carers and as teachers. To ensure that we can have more of these conversations, I encourage you to work with us. This is in the best interests of parents/ carers, teachers but most importantly our students.