As we start the 2017-2018 school year, educators know more than ever the importance of the “triangle of stakeholders.” When the student, school, and parent are working together and supporting each other, the chances for student success significantly increase. Towards that end, I have a quick message for parents as they send their child off to school this year.
Assume Positive Intentions
I promise you that the parent and the school have the EXACT same goal for your child and that is for them to be as successful as possible. As a parent, head into the school year with that understanding. The school is not “out to get your child” nor are they “playing politics.” Have the mindset of assuming positive intentions. Assume the educators in your child’s school are in the profession for all the right reasons. Assume that they will do what is right and ethical as often as they possibly can.
As a parent, there will be times this year when that mindset it tested. A few hypotheticals that might lead to that:
- Your child comes home says they are being bullied and no one is doing anything about it
- The teacher “yelled at me”
- Your child says there is a field trip tomorrow they didn’t know about
- Enough homework to last a month comes home on a Tuesday night
- Your child says the principal punished the entire class for the actions of one student
My guess is most parents have experienced one or more of those situations. I’m not saying the school is always right or you shouldn’t investigate further. That’s not the message at all. Just consider all the alternatives, while assuming positive intentions, prior to picking up that phone or firing off that angry email. Consider your child may have shared part of the story with you. That could be intentional or unintentional. Consider there may be another side to the story. Consider the rest of the matter still needs to be investigated. Once you have gone through that process, contact the school, ask questions, share what you know, and do so in a professional and respectful manner. Allow yourself to be fully informed and then part of the problem-solving process that may need to take place. If there is a reason to be upset or concerned at that point, you have done your due diligence.
By assuming positive intentions, your positive relationship with the school will immediately be focused on your child. There will be less time spent on being adversarial and more time spent on getting to solutions and the support your child may need. When the student knows that the school and parent have high levels of communication and speak positively of each other, they understand that everyone is rowing the boat in the same direction.