Tag Archives: relationship building

Tear Down These Walls…

Berlin Wall at Ronald Reagan Bldg and Intl Trade Center in DC - G.Pescatore

I hate walls! They block your view and prevent you from hearing clearly what is being said on the other side. (These particular walls I am referring to also wake me up at 430 in the morning….which note, waking up at 430 a.m. is one big reason you will not see me have anymore children. I don’t sleep a lot, but when I am sleeping….I don’t appreciate being woken in the midst.)

So often we talk about issues arising from the” us versus them” mentality; be it one ethnic community versus another; PTO board-parents; parents-school; parent-teacher; school boards-educators or parents. So often, I see and hear the comment repeatedly come up in conversations (written and verbal) that, yes, we need to build relationships and respect one another. Relationships are the core foundation of what we need for success. Yet then people say, do and write things that not only keep walls in place, but at times, make them bigger.

If we truly want to break these walls down and realize this vision of working together without walls between us…

We need to humble ourselves.

We need to realize that no one individual is better than the next (I don’t care how educated you are/aren’t or how much money is/isn’t in your bank account or if you speak the English language or not).

You can be at the top…or the bottom of the ladder in the blink of an eye.

We need to not only talk about working together – but actually have actions to back that statement (and when you dig deep, if you don’t believe it, than you really need to find a role that you do truly believe in).

We need to remember that we all are 50% of the problem….but CAN and also NEED to be 50% of the solution.

A child is just that; a child. We need to be providing them with positive reinforcement…not tearing them down.

We need to greet others with an open heart and open mind.

We need to remember we all are human; breathing the same air, standing on the same ground.

Our words can have a lasting impact on those we speak to and of…good or bad.

We all need to remember…before we say or do something; listen to what you are saying from the shoes of someone on the other side of that statement (wall). How would that impact you and your actions going forward?

Just as we tell our children to be kind and think of others. We need to practice what we preach. Our actions DO speak louder than our words…but words also have the power to shape someone’s perception of reality (and perception is reality to them). If we can knock down these walls that divide and prevent us from working together, we might be pleasantly surprised at the potential of others and what we can all accomplish.

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Reflections of a PTA President

Rainbow

Image Credit – http://office.microsoft.com

As this year comes to an end, so does my PTA presidency. It is definitely bittersweet. It seems the perfect time to look back at the experience and carefully examine the ups and downs of the position.

As a new president, I came to the job optimistic and energized, ready to get to work. I walked in with certain beliefs of how things should be done, and the time commitment I had made. Little did I know that you can never fully be prepared for what is coming around the corner.

I have never been as proud of my school as I am today. Our efforts have been incredible in so many ways. We were recognized as a National Blue Ribbon school. We donated almost $10,000 to our adopted school, Hegarty Elementary, which was destroyed in Hurricane Sandy. At the same time, we were able to provide financial support to our staff family that suffered in the storm. We had amazing programs including Caldecott winning author visits for our students. We had wonderful events for our families like Fall Festival and Picnic around the World. We were present in school board budget meetings and fought for important expenditures in our school. We were also involved in an effort to have our Board of Education write a resolution against high stakes testing. We educated parents on new academic programs in the district. It’s truly been a remarkable time to be PTA leadership.

The relationships formed will definitely be one of the most positive parts of my experience. I was able to really get to know my principal (@cantiague_lead) and contribute to the magic that happens every day at Cantiague. His leadership and passion inspired me to give a little more, push myself to learn and share. The teachers I worked with reinforced everything I believed about the staff. They are so dedicated and true experts in what they do. Their dedication to our children made it impossible not to give 100% in making Cantiague the best place it can be.

The families of Cantiague are the real treasure. The generosity, spirit, and commitment to providing the best environment for learning and growing is what makes our school what it is. Cantiague is a very special corner of the world where children come first….always.

I will always be grateful to the PTA presidents who came before me and the ones who will follow. To borrow a cliché, it is a true labor of love. The amount of work is unimaginable, but the payout is the same. It is my greatest hope that our incoming presidents will experience the same joy and sense of accomplishment I have gained. If you put your whole self in it, you will learn so much. Not just about the school, district, or education, but about yourself. The job isn’t for everyone, but for those up for the challenge it is so worth it.

I look forward to my new position of Past President come June 11. I know the relationships I have made will only get stronger and better. I also know that our incoming presidents will do a wonderful job and make this PTA their own. I can’t wait to see the new direction we go.


Off-Site Parent Association Meetings = Big Returns

partnership - sxc

 

This month we take our monthly home and school meetings “on the road”. Starting next week, we will hold our meeting at the local mosque, next month at the local boys and girls club, and in May, we will take it to the middle school that most all of our 6th grade students will attend next year.

Why do we do this? To extend a hand; open a door; earn another partner in our family and community engagement efforts. This is one of my highlights of the year. What motivates me to volunteer my time. I think its part of the “practice what you preach”. If we say we want to involve all parties in the partnership, then we need to prove it. We need to be willing to step outside of our 4 walls, listen to and learn about what others envision, and build the dream together. Going to a place of such importance to a portion of our families is amazing. I come away with a greater understanding as to why these families do or don’t participate in various activities that we host. (I say greater because I will learn more with each conversation, one time isn’t enough.) Later we are able to use that knowledge to build a calendar that better includes more of our families and earn us the support from a portion of our community that previously might not have been actively involved or felt they were part of the partnership.

How do we do it? Although it isn’t required, we use technology. By live streaming our meetings, all families can be a part of the meeting no matter where we are OR where they are. All both ends require is a computer with internet access. Are there other things you could include to make the experience better? Yes. You could add video and higher quality microphone. You could put together a PowerPoint presentation for those at home to follow along with you. But ultimately they aren’t required. You can effectively extend a hand and create new relationships by hosting meetings off-site without the technology. All you need is an open mind and genuine interest in getting to know more about others. Without the live stream, you do miss out on including those from home – but you are still creating those relationships…future partners in your home and school efforts.

If done with an open mind, meeting in a location other than the school helps include families that may not feel comfortable walking into the school or the group’s “territory” (or simply don’t have the means of transportation to go outside their neighborhood). Partnerships that might not otherwise be forged. As a PTA/PTO/HSA, shouldn’t creating and building partnerships be one of our primary goals? If you haven’t tried holding one of your meetings in a new location, I encourage you to try it.

Image credit: http://www.sxc.hu


SheilaSpeaking

A space for thinking, reflecting and sharing about education -- and the odd other thing...

Ingvi Hrannar

Icelandic educator, iPad 1:1 classroom, speaker & entrepreneur.

Penn-Finn Learnings 2013

Sharing our inquiries - March 23-30

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