As the president of my district’s parent group (DPAC), my biggest goal is to support better parent-teacher relationships.

At our orientation meeting at the beginning of the 2008/09 school year, one of our amazing District staff development experts came to present about the importance of initiating conversations with your children’s teachers.

And as part of that presentation, she guided us through an “appreciative inquiry” exercise to help us connect with the best parent-teacher interactions we’ve had.

The exercise went like this:
– on an index card, write down you name, your children’s ages and the school(s) that they attend.
– write about a time that you had a great interaction with a teacher
– take your index card, introduce yourself to someone you don’t know, and describe your story to that person (and vice versa)
– trade cards with that person
– find another person you don’t know and tell them the story of the person whose card you’re now holding (and vice versa)
– trade cards with the second person
– find a third person you don’t know and tell them the story of the person whose card you’re now holding (and vice versa)
– choose three words that describe the stories that you heard

What would happen if every parent-teacher conversation, conference or disagreement was conducted with caring, support, encouragement and respect?  What would our chances of finding successful solutions for our children be if we could remember to co-operate, be open, understand and appreciate each other?

At one of our DPAC meetings, we talked about this graphic and the kinds of interactions that produced results.  We talked about the things that get in the way of these kinds of interactions why don’t we do this all the time??  And we talked about ways of increasing the likelihood of each interaction including all of these qualities.

What if we all, in our learning communities, talked about the kinds of interactions parents want to have with teachers and how we can help each other create those situations? I think Ill raise this discussion again at the beginning of the new school year approaching, to get everyone thinking about the positive interactions possible for us.

We’re all human and it’s hard to remember to focus on the big picture all the time.  In my opinion, if we’re all talking about the same questions and have the same goals, then we’ve just tripled the probability that one of us (parent, teacher or administrator) will REMEMBER to pull us all back to our real goal to have caring, positive interactions that help find solutions for our children!

And isn’t that what really matters?