We’re On The Same Team

Nov 14, 2016 | by Janice Smith

The summer between my first and second year of teaching I decided to adopt a puppy.  I spent all summer training him, and the following fall taking him to Beginner and Intermediate puppy training classes once a week.  And I’ll never forget the first time someone commented on his poor behavior to me.  I immediately found myself getting defensive, and wanting to point out how hard I was working on his training, and all the good things he was able to do, and that this was just ONE mistake amidst all the things he was quickly getting good at.  Plus, the person commenting (and attempting to give me advice) didn’t even have a dog!  How could they possibly know how challenging it was, and how hard we were trying?!


This was a huge A-HA moment for me when it came to how I built relationships with my students’ parents and families.  Prior to this, I can reflect on many phone calls and meetings that were spent talking about what their students had done in class, or the poor choices they had made, in a way that was reporting what had happened.  I missed the part where I let them know how much I cared about their students, and asked their advice about perhaps what I could be doing differently to help them succeed.  I entered the meeting with a mindset that I knew best, and I needed to tell them how they could help me.  This mindset is so dangerous for many reasons, but most importantly ignores the years of experience our kid’s parents have with them, and the fact that they have the potential of being a huge source of insight and advice on how we can better serve their kids.  Plus, it almost never works in the best interest of our students.

So this week we’ve put together a new collection called ‘Parent Relationships’, featuring interviews with a bunch of our favorite teachers (K through 12th grade), and how they approach building strong relationships with parents and families.  The two clips below are short, but perfect, clips that highlight the shared mindset we’ve found amongst the teachers who are most successful at building strong relationships with families.  The idea that we are all on the same team.  We all want the same, great things for these students, and two minds is always greater than one.


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