Coffee and Conversation with Parents
Did you know that many CCSD59 schools have events that allow parents and guardians the opportunity to get to know their school’s principal? The sessions are onsite at school in a casual setting and provide an open forum for parents to ask questions about current topics or areas of interest. Some schools offer these events monthly, in the evenings, or at alternating times during the year to make it easy for families to attend.
This article will spotlight one of these sessions, the recent Coffee with the Principals event at Salt Creek Elementary School with Principal Dr. Nicole Robinson and Assistant Principal Griselda Tapia.
We asked Principal Robinson to answer a few questions. Here is what she had to say.
Q: Why do you think this type of event is important to have at our schools?
It’s important to me, especially as a new principal at Salt Creek, to offer many different opportunities to engage parents in discussions about what is happening in our school and get their feedback about our school. I want to get to know parents personally and establish positive relationships with them, and this event helps me to do just that.
Q: Does any other staff participate in this or is it truly just the principal?
Mrs. Tapia, our assistant principal, and I participate.
Q: How often do you have these events?
This year, we have scheduled 1-2 parent coffee events per trimester.
Q: What is the typical event like?
First, I share information about the focus topic (in this case, it was modern learning and CCSD59 curriculum changes), and then we have a small group discussion with parents and guardians regarding questions I would like to gather feedback about. Groups share their thoughts and have the opportunity to ask questions and share concerns. I also share available resources in case parents are interested in learning more about the topic. Our school provides the coffee and snacks for the events.
Q: What types of questions/comments do parents usually share?
We have different topics we address at each event. In October, we spoke with parents about homework. We asked for their thoughts about the pros and cons of homework and solicited their suggestions about the kinds of purposeful practice they would like to see coming home with their students. That information was then shared with teachers as they developed their grade level’s homework practices and routines.
At the event on January 26, we discussed modern learning. We first watched the modern learning video, and I asked parents to look for evidence in it that learning in classrooms has changed since they attended school. We compared those differences and our small groups discussed what conditions are most conducive for “sticky” learning to occur – the kind of learning that sticks with our students for years to come. We compared and contrasted conditions for powerful learning vs. what happens in traditional schools. I outlined how our district has changed our curriculum and instruction to align with more self-directed learning, less memorization, and more critical thinking via our district outcomes. Parents analyzed the skills needed for their children to be successful in careers. They agreed that the more opportunities students have to apply skills, solve problems, and learn to collaborate, the more prepared they will be for whatever they pursue in the future. It was a great discussion!
Q: What do you think is the most beneficial result of having the event?
Giving parents a venue to share their thoughts, suggestions, and concerns, and also to ask any questions they may have, is the most beneficial. Not only does it open lines of communication between home and school, but it helps me refine my school improvement plan with the parent perspective in mind. I truly value the home-school partnership and believe that only by working together can we best serve our students.