The Price of Admission

Parents and teachers have difficulty empathizing with each other. Here's a great idea to address that issue.

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Special Education Guru Rick Lavoie allowed parents to attend one of his workshops for free  is they brought a teacher and vice-versa. His idea was this would facilitate the two getting to know each other to build empathy and create bonds.

Let's use that idea to bring parents and teachers closer together and break down walls! What are the can't-miss events at your school? Could you allow parents free admission if they bring a teacher and vice-versa? 

Outline: The Price of Admission


Districts and schools can hold events (or partner with community organizations that have them) where teachers get in free if they bring a parent and vice-versa. Additionally, local businesses such as coffee shops and restaurants could offer free items for parent/teacher pairs.

Potential For Impact:

This idea will bring parents and teachers together in a safe and neutral ground on which they can build a relationship. Secondly, by working together, parents and teachers will understand each other better, helping to prevent misunderstandings. Finally, as Rick Lavoie once said, teachers need to understand parents have more obligations than parenting a specific child and parents need to understand teachers have more obligations than teaching a specific child. Having both sides see and relate to each other outside the traditional parent-teacher conference, breaks down barriers.

Value Proposition / Pitch: 

How will you convince key stakeholders that this is worth a try? Free admission to exciting events and the opportunity to break barriers.

How would I get this idea off the ground?  

What is a low-cost, easy way to test this idea? I could work with Orange County Schools or my school to see if there is an event we can try experimenting with.

What is a possible MVP (minimum viable product) version of this idea?  

  1. Go to a school sporting event… Buy a bulk package of snacks and announce that the first 10 parents to bring a teacher to the concession stand gets a special prize. When you give the food to the winners, ask them questions as they arrive… make the questions kind of funny, and make it so they hear each others’ answers, to kind of build some connection... and as you distribute the food ask if they wouldn’t mind having another short discussion on a certain topic (give them several discussion prompts).
  2. A school can partner with a local coffee shop. The coffee shop can offer BOGO coffee or dessert to parent/teacher pairs. Businesses could offer deals like this in exchange for ads in football programs/playbills, etc.


What are the minimum requirements? Ideally, we just need an event that a school or district usually charges admission to and would be willing to change the price of admission to accommodate this idea. Possible adaptations: get a local organization/venue to honor the idea at one of their events, offer free admission to the first five parent/teacher pairs that arrive at an event, partner with local businesses to offer free or discounted items to parent/teacher pairs.


What can you measure for evidence, to determine if this idea is successful? Parents could take surveys at the start and end of the school year. Survey questions to could measure connection to the school and parent satisfaction.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Tom Mullaney

I had the honor of speaking with Rick Lavoie over the phone today.

Takeaways from the conversation: he actually did it for events that had an admission price but were struggling with turnout. His events were about working with students with learning disabilities so parents and teachers were the target audiences. He also said he did this years ago in an old job. Usually, the parent and teacher would meet for coffee beforehand. This was a while ago. As Ben Gibbs mentioned, would contemporary schedules allow for that?

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