On completion of the course, teachers will be better prepared to invite parents into their classroom; to build collaborative relationships and mentor parent skills; and to take advantage of working with capable parent volunteers to transform their ways of teaching. Participants will also gain a thorough understanding of the relevant legal and regulatory considerations relevant to having parents in the classroom, and have strategies for connecting with communities of practice to support their personal exploration of the potential of parents.
The course will focus on three foundations to effective collaboration with parent volunteers.
The course introduces you to ‘cogenerative dialoguing’, a technique to help establishing expectations and maintaining open communication. This kind of dialogue is the cornerstone of effective parent relationships.
The course presents mentoring and apprenticeship as an established framework for building parents’ skills. It also outlines some key skills that many parents can benefit by learning – and provides resources that will help them do so.
Beyond this, the course also explores how the presence of a parent in the classroom can enable you to employ richer, more experiential, innovative and progressive teaching methods.
This course is a full day interactive workshop for groups of 4 to 12 teachers. Generally we run the course on-site for schools who want to build the skills of a number of their teachers, but we also organise 'open' courses where we invite teachers from different schools to attend individually or in small groups.
The course is delivered as a small full-day workshop using guided discussion, without digital presentation aids. Participants are encouraged to bring their own experience and perspectives to the experience, and to actively engage with the material and each other. The facilitator will explicitly use the cogenerative dialoguing techniques described in the course – both to demonstrate these techniques and to foster a suitably collaborative environment.
The first block explores and unpacks participants’ experience of and attitude toward parental engagement and having parents actively participating in the classroom; legal and regulatory considerations are discussed; evidence is presented for bringing parents into the classroom as a way of reducing the student-to-adult ratio and enabling richer teaching approaches.
The second block introduces the cogenerative dialoguing approach; participants are instructed in the technique, and given the chance to implement it in short role-plays. The third block begins with a collaborative discussion of what basic skills may be most valuable for parents to learn; resources are shared for building a number of common skills such as basic numeracy and literacy support; mentoring and apprenticeship approaches are discussed for supporting parents’ learning in the classroom environment.
The final block looks at what new teaching approaches participants may explore with the support of a parent in the classroom. Broadly underpinned by a more student-directed focus and more experiential hands-on activities, a series of techniques are presented. The session finishes with a discussion of reflexive practice, how participants intend to implement learnings in their classroom, and how they will engage with colleagues as they refine their approach.
As a result, the course acknowledges that teachers engaging with parents as collaborators may find themselves battling deeply entrenched norms regarding teaching and parental behaviour. We present the ideas and techniques to be engaged with critically, and we suggest that a consciously reflexive approach will be required when implementing them.
For this reason, participants are also encouraged to become part of an ongoing conversation with colleagues (in their schools and more broadly) to share learnings and refine their own approaches.
Parents are already a part of many Australian classrooms, engaged in activities from reading groups to one-on-one maths tutoring; from supporting art projects to assisting with physical education.