The Elephant in the Relationship

What might we learn from the social culture of elephants in building better parent -teacher -student connections?

Photo of Chris Good
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In this old 60 Minutes clip we learn about how young elephants benefit from the presence of older role models.

Perhaps the parent teacher conference - a place where parent and teacher come together to learn about a students progress, address a specific challenge, or praise a particular success - could be something more meaningful.  If young bull elephants are positively influenced by the close presence and interactions of their adult peers, maybe creating a sustaining and positive Parent-Teacher relationship can have the same effect?

[Optional] Synthesize a little! In one sentence, describe something you learned from your empathy exercises or analogous research.

What if the Parent-Teacher conference was not a formalized scheduled event to be attended and checked off the schedule - but rather a deep and meaningful partnership - visible and viscerally felt by the student- and interwoven in their daily school experience.

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Photo of Clint Heitz

If you'd be willing, I would greatly appreciate your support for Guideposts to Success by heading to the post and leaving a positive evaluation, as well as suggestions to grow the idea even more! Thank you!

Photo of Chris Good

Thanks Clint - I am happy to help in any way I can. I love the Guideposts to Success idea. Hope my suggestions help it grow!

Photo of John Faig

With rare exception, very few other industries provide a formal, sit down several times a year.   Schools tend to over structure many things.  I think a more consistent and incremental flow of information (e.g., Digital Learning Portfolio, personalized LMS) would strengthen the relationship between parents, teachers and students.  It would give students the opportunity to periodically reflect on their progress, build more meta-cognitive skills and take more agency.

Photo of Charles Gramatges

A step further, John, would be to EXPECT this of a parent-teacher-student relationship. You are hinting at a climate change in the way a school is run - and I love it. "It takes a village to raise a child" has significant meaning here, and demands our attention as educators. The family conference is a key potential player in this climate change.

Photo of John Faig

Regarding your "village" comment, I think schools should strive to have older students mentor (and teach) younger students.  I also think the ePortfolio would allow for more frequent and less formal check-ins (in place of or in addition to conferences).

Photo of Chris Good

These are awesome comments! and anything that puts more info in the hands of parents (more frequently) is  a good thing - but I don't want to discount the value of a positive interpersonal relationship withe teachers-parents-and students. Being there together and building a role model relationship (where all three stakeholders have both a voice and an opportunity to lead) is soo very important.

Photo of Molly McMahon

We are only a couple hours in and you're already bringing tears to my eyes. Glad to have you back!!