Parents as Classroom Collaborators

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This one-day course explores the potential of parents in the classroom. While parent volunteers are a common sight in many schools, they are often an under-utilised resource. From K through to 6 and beyond, parents - and grandparents - can be a valuable asset for teachers willing to invest in a collaborative relationship.

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.

Collaborative Relationships

The foundation for effective parent participation in the classroom is a collaborative relationship.

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.

Skill Building and Mentoring

To get the most out of parents, you will need to help them build their capabilities and confidence in the classroom.

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.

Richer Classroom Pedagogy

The benefits of parental collaboration are twofold. Most immediately, it improves the outcomes of parents doing the tasks they are already doing in the class.

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.

Register Interest

Want to learn how to make the most of parents in the classroom?

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.

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Completing Parents as Classroom Collaborators will contribute six hours minutes of QTC Registered PD addressing 3.3.2, 3.7.2, 4.2.2, 6.3.2 and 7.3.2 from the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers towards maintaining Proficient Teacher Accreditation in NSW.

Select and use relevant teaching strategies to develop
knowledge, skills, problem-solving and critical and creative
thinking.

Plan for appropriate and contextually relevant opportunities for parents/carers to be involved in their children’s learning.

Establish and maintain orderly and workable routines to create an environment where student time is spent on learning tasks.

Contribute to collegial discussions and apply constructive feedback from colleagues to improve professional knowledge and practice.

Establish and maintain respectful collaborative relationships with parents/ carers regarding their children’s learning and well-being.

Interactive, practice-based workshop format

In developing the format of the course, we wanted to create a learning environment for participants that reflected key aspects of the approach itself. In particular we built a course that is collaborative and provides opportunity for critical practice and reflection.

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.

Modular topics and resource materials

To cover the material, the course is broken into four 90-minute blocks. Each block is made up of several topics that are complemented by reference sheets specifically designed to support integrating the skills into your practice.

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.

Be at the forefront of classroom innovation

In developing this course we have intentionally gone beyond established best practice to draw on emerging thinking and to integrate new research with practice.

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.

Course Facilitation

The 'Parents as Classroom Collaborators' course was developed by our training specialists at Schoolhouse, in collaboration with leading academics in the field. Each time we run the course it will be delivered by one of the course authors.

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BRETT ROLFE

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, SCHOOLHOUSE CENTRE FOR PROGRESSIVE EDUCATION

Brett leads a number of initiatives for Schoolhouse, including the advocacy of parental involvement in the classroom. He is a passionate advocate of the power of collaboration and the benefits of student-directed experiential learning. Brett has a bachelors degree in Psychology and a masters degree in Teaching (Primary).

Find Out More

For more information about 'Parents as Classroom Collaborators' or our other courses you can email us at courses@schoolhouse.edu.au. We look forward to hearing from you.

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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.

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'Parents as Classroom Collaborators' is part of The Schoolhouse Centre for Progressive Education's 'Parents as Co-teachers' initiative.
Feature image on this page by Candateshia Pafford. Accompanying image courtesy of Kennedy Library.