Create space for parents to share both their dreams and fears.

I was a teacher for 10 yrs. It wasn't until I was a parent that I realized how little space we create for parents to share their dreams.

Photo of Aaron Wilson-Ahlstrom
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At the beginning of each year, schools should facilitate a space that helps parents get to know one another, and to share with one another and their child's teacher some of their hopes, fears, questions, and insight they have into how their children learn best. Ideally, that's home visits to each family's house. But it could also be a 90-minute event at the school, with parents doing some individual reflection around some core prompts (see below for some ideas), talking in small groups, and large group sharing. Such an event helps parents get to know one another around something they all are immensely invested in - their own kids' success and wellbeing. 

When our oldest child Malcolm was going into kindergarten, the teacher came to our house before school started for a visit. "Tell me about what you're most excited about for him this year," she asked. "When have you seen him light up and deeply enjoy something?" "What questions or fears do you have about him coming to our school?" Those questions gave space for an incredible conversation. We were so grateful to have the chance to articulate dreams, fears, concerns we had for him. I became an immediate fan of this teacher (because she demonstrated she cared about Malcolm, about us, and was committed to his emotional and intellectual wellbeing and growth). I wanted to do anything I could to support her in making the year a great one for all the kids in her class. 

Share research or student experiences that informed your idea!

In the last decade, there's been a host of research around the importance of Social-Emotional Learning, and the ways in which the social-emotional wellbeing of children impacts their ability to learn. Parents have deep investment in the wellbeing and success of their children, and often really keen insights that can help teachers.

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Photo of Alysha English
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Aaron Wilson-Ahlstrom Aaron, thank you for sharing! This idea genuinely made me smile. I love that this is grounded in the alignment of shared dreams and starts with the foundation of understanding that parents and teachers are both invested in the holistic growth and dreams of the student. There's also so much research on the impact of home visits. A really cool prototype to build might be a sample agenda or conversation starters for the visit to help guide the conversation, especially for a teacher that might be trying this for the first time. I love this! Thank you for both the idea and for sharing your personal experience.

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