Very early in my career, there was an administrator at the school where I was teaching who had a sign in her office that read:
If you promise not to believe everything you child says happens at school, I’ll promise not to believe everything your child says happens at home.
While, on the one hand, I’m not sure that I completely appreciate the somewhat cynical tone of this statement, I do believe that it sheds some important light on what is often a challenging dynamic for all school communities—namely, how we as parents, teachers and administrators effectively communicate with one another.
Fortunately, the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) provides us with some very good guidance and advice through its publication of what it calls Principles of Good Practice, a series of brief and succinct documents that are regularly updated and expanded on, and intended “to define high standards and ethical behavior in key areas of school operations.”
Included among those “key areas” that one might expect, such as admissions, boards of trustees, and financial operations, is a set of principles for what NAIS calls Parents Working with Schools, School’s Working with Parents, and the set of standards reads, in part:
Parents and independent schools work together to create effective partnerships… characterized by clearly defined responsibilities, a shared commitment to collaboration, open lines of communication, mutual respect, and a common vision of the goals to be reached.
The phrase, “open lines of communication,” in bold, is mine for emphasis. Put another way, perhaps, I would offer that the sign in the administrator’s office might be replaced with one that would state, very simply and directly: “Let’s talk about it.”
Would you agree?
Tim Daniel, Head of School