The school conducted an all-parent workshop on August 31st regarding ‘How to Work with Your Child’s School’. The minutes below are a summary, for those of you who were unable to make it. Special thanks to Ms. Rama Deepthi (Zera’s Mom, Serenity) for putting this together for us so beautifully.
The workshop was addressed by Ms. Pallavi Phatak, an education consultant from Chennai who’s worked with a range of schools over the last decade – under-served, conventional, as well as Montessori. The workshop was on how to work with the school to provide a harmonious environment for our children to work in. Following are the key highlights of the talk.
What it means to be in A ‘small’ school
First, there is a difference in the way the the bigger school chains and small schools think and run respectively. A small school is a team with a well thought out vision, mission, objectives and plans on what they want to do and hope to accomplish. It should not be expected to function like a typical service provider, merely offering educational services against fees.
Second, teachers are trained/ skilled professionals and it is important to remember that they undergo extensive training to do what they do. What it is not to be viewed as, is merely a child care/ day care center, although care is very central to everything that is done in the school. Also, our children love their teachers. Any un-befitting conversations which they become privy to, either directly or indirectly, undermines the respect they otherwise carry for their teachers.
Third, a small school is about the collective effort of everyone who is involved and not individual agendas. To be collective would also mean to be constructive, not critical and proactive, not entitled. Parents are important stakeholders in this collective effort and hence, can volunteer to help out/ work with the school in their operational aspects as well.
PARENT BREAK-OUT SESSION
Ms. Phatak emphasized that we need to go beyond individuality, think beyond just our children and look at how we can contribute/ work towards the benefit of all children. A group activity was carried out where the parents formed approximately 6 groups of 6-7 members each to ideate and discuss ways in which parents can contribute through volunteering efforts to the school and to the community. 20 minutes time was given to brainstorm for ideas, at the end of which one representative from each group presented their thoughts. Some of these ideas (not an exhaustive list) that were proposed are as follows:
- Car-pooling for children coming from same localities to be more environment friendly as well as reduce traffic issues during drop-off and pick-up times
- Parent Partner Program: Recognizing the need for better communication, it is proposed to have a parent volunteer group to help structure and implement this
- After-school activities: With help of parent volunteers who have the knowledge and skills to do it, such as book-reading, story-telling, gardening, chess club, entrepreneurship, in-door games such as kabbadi, board games, etc.
- Periodic outdoor sports activities with children from other communities/ schools
- Volunteer to assist during pick/drop-off times, maybe 2 to 3 days a week
- Organise a book exchange club among children, etc.
Obstacles in helping the school
Most parents felt that awareness (not knowing what is required)/ communication/ logistic aspects (such as time and distance) were the main roadblocks to volunteer more. Ms. Pathak also added that another roadblock could be each other, when there is distraction, non-constructive criticism, resistance, etc. regarding the school. She concluded by stressing on the importance for parents to be aligned/ stay connected with the school and work together to be able to create a harmonious environment, so our children can benefit from it.
Additionally, the school shared some important updates:
- Beginning September 3rd, 2019, WhatsApp will no longer be considered as a mode of communication for any information, requests, enquires or updates. All communication needs to be made either through email or through the school landline (040 48518348) only.
- Mr. Nageshwar Rao is the school admin staff and will be handling all the landline calls and any day-to-day communication that needs to passed on, such as updates regarding lunch drop off, late pick-ups, etc. Request all parents not to WhatsApp such information, but to use the official channels such as email / school landline to communicate the same.
- During the pick-up times, it is requested for parents not to crowd the small gate area, so that younger children have enough place to walk out comfortably. This was a concern shared by one of the parents and the school has requested the same accordingly.