In recent weeks I’ve heard a parent say to me that they chose not to attend an educational conference because they feared they wouldn’t have been welcomed. I’ve heard of parents who have not engaged teachers in conversation because they felt they wouldn’t be heard. I know this isn’t one-sided. There are plenty of educators out there that make similar comments about parents…and ones that I have met that seem to have little respect for what a parent can contribute. But we do ourselves, children and schools a great disservice to make blanket statements and/or assume all are the same. I’m not minimizing the perceptions. They are valid and I know that individuals exist on both sides fitting those roles. But you will never know of the great individuals out there if you don’t give them a chance. (And I’ve found there are far more great ones than not – especially at Edcamps!)
In the last 12 months, I have met in person (and virtually) so many wonderful educators from all over. They’ve welcomed me into their conversations, respected my contributions, and always willing to share their knowledge and/or advice whenever needed. I am not an educator by profession. I’ve never studied to be one. I am a parent. A parent who just like all the other parents out there, want nothing less than the best for my children and all the other children out there. I know that we cannot accomplish that by pointing fingers or blaming others, and we cannot do it alone. So please don’t shy away from a phenomenal opportunity to learn with and from others, or from a conversation because you fear what an individual from “the other side” might say or how they might act. There always needs to be someone to take that first step, open that door or extend that hand. Why not be that one? Model for others what it means and looks like to put personal differences and agendas aside and choose to do what is best for kids. Choose to not only point out where improvements can be made, but also be willing to make those improvements happen, AND celebrate the successes.
As we go into 2015, I look forward to continuing to meet more great individuals out there doing amazing things for kids and schools. I hope to see more parents participating in the conversations about education (be it in a school, on a chat or in a setting such as Edcamp). Less of a line between the two sides, and definitely fewer remarks like those at the beginning of this post.
Thank you to the many educators that I have been so honored to chat with, meet in real life, work alongside, and present with this last year. You all are nothing less than amazing! Thank you to the parents (and those filling that role) who have chosen to be part of the conversations and learning. You all are an inspiration to others.
Have a wonderful holiday season (what remains of it) and a safe and happy new year!