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We're All in this Together!

How many times have you heard the question, “How can parents teachers develop effective relationships?”  Teamwork Englewood is continuing its efforts of providing parents, community members, and stakeholders with information to help those concerned about education, make informed decisions and serve as partners in the educational process.  On Friday, February 15th, Teamwork Englewood’s Education Leadership Initiative hosted its second community engagement forum.                                                                          

We often hear teachers say, “Parents need to be more involved in their child’s education…” or parents ask, “How can I become more involved in my child’s education?”  Those key statements and questions were addressed by both participants and guest speakers. 

Joseph Butler, Organizer with New Schools for Chicago; and Pamela Creed, Principal of Fuller School of Excellence offered valuable information from three different perspectives: community involvement, parental involvement, and administrative involvement. 

“Effective Strategies for Parent - Teacher Relationships” provided participants with the tools needed to establish an effective partnership between parents and teachers.  The topic of Effective Strategies for Parent – Teacher Relationships was extremely important and timely due to the release of the CPS school closing list, which included 19 schools in the Englewood community. 

One of the key issues raised during the meeting was the importance of being proactive rather than reactive. 

One of the many ways that parents and community members can be proactive in their child’s education is through parent-teacher engagement.  Here are a few of the tips that Joseph Butler shared with participants on how they can become more effective partners in the educational process:

  • Make an introduction: introduce yourself and child to the teacher; share information with your child’s teacher regarding their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Be present: attend school functions, especially the open house; ask questions; and show an interest in understanding the teacher’s vision and plans for the school year.
  • Prepare for school visits and remain focused: when attending school functions, make sure your discussion is related to the focus of the function.  Do not attend school functions and begin to discuss student grades or behavior.  Arrange a meeting to address specific concerns.
  • Maintain a positive opinion of your child’s teacher: always assume that the teacher has the best in mind for your student.  Do not enter a meeting with the thought that the teacher has it out for your child.
  • Communication: maintain regular communication with your child’s teacher.  Do not wait until there is a problem to talk to the teacher. 
  • Volunteer: if you are able, try to spend a day in the classroom and help the teacher as much as possible. 

From an administrative perspective, Pamela Creed agrees with the tips offered by Joseph Butler and acknowledged that the principal “sets the tone” for increasing parental engagement and positive parent-teacher relationships.  There is an open door policy for parents to come into the building at Ms. Creed’s school.  “Parents can be an ambassador [for the child] because they are there.”

Communication and dissemination of information are a few of the tools that will help improve the level of parental and community involvement.  “If we did not have a good network, we would not have the information and tools needed to be involved.”  That is the ultimate goal of Teamwork Englewood through the Englewood Education Leadership Initiative, to disseminate information and provide its parents and community members with the essential tools needed to make informed decisions. Parents are not the only ambassadors. The community can also serve as ambassadors too.  Sunni Powell, a community resident and business owner, became a mentor in the schools.  Sunni agrees that parental and community involvement, as well as structure is critical for children to succeed.  

The next forum is scheduled for Saturday, March 9, 2013 and will feature Dr. Charles M. Payne, a noted professor and author in the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. 



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