8.3 Networking with parents, the community and other schools
Networking is a way to make the most out of all available knowledge and expertise to raise the community’s awareness on different topics, encourage all parents to send their children to school, make them stay in school and reach their full potential. Networking avoids efforts being duplicated and has a more powerful and effective result.
Case study 18: The reflections of Mr Dogo, a teacher at a primary school in Mango, Togo
Here I am with a class of 58 pupils.I really need the help of parents, colleagues and other members of the community, including NGOs working in the area, so that I can succeed in my work. But where do I begin? Parents do not seem to be interested in the education of their children in this area, let alone the other members of the community. They do not come to parents’ evening meetings. It would be good to find a way to induce them to come. … Hmm. I think I'll start by doing two things.
First, I will see the head teacher so that we start a school correspondence program with outside schools. This will lead us to do environmental study visits. We will, with the children, write questionnaires on various topics, which we will distribute to parents and other community members. I think I saw a TESSA resource on how to write a questionnaire with pupils and how to get ready to use it. I’ll get that. And I was told that the Apréli@ OER () could help me find ideas on class training activities. That will be great!
In addition to discovering their culture for academic purposes, pupils will also discover their community beliefs, culture and opinions on a range of topics. And the community will be involved in the life of the school. This will be an opportunity for us teachers to be more united and to work together. And NGOs can also support us!
On the other hand, I think I should establish an Individual Educational Project (IEP) for young Nana, who has learning difficulties, and Boga, who is restless and aggressive. This is an opportunity to be more connected with their parents, who seem to believe that teachers detain all knowledge and leave their children to be educated at school. When I prepare the IEP, I will make sure to define clearly the role that the parent, guardian or community member will have to play in achieving the goals I will have identified for inclusion of Nana and Boga and in helping them to improve their learning. It will have to be short-term goals and the implementation and evaluation will involve parents, myself, and why not the school?
Good! I will think over these ideas more deeply and make concrete proposals to my head teacher.
Activity 39: Improving relationships with the community
This activity will help teachers to identify ideas to reinforce the bond between the school and the community.
Mr Dogo, the teacher, wants to improve the relationship between the school and the community.
- Make a list of the strategies he has identified. Are these strategies suitable? Are they achievable?
- Can you think of other strategies? Add them!
- Do you have goals you want to achieve? Think of the key players that could help you to achieve these goals. Who are they?
- For each goal you have set, list the benefits and challenges they present and ways to address these challenges.
You can, if you wish, formulate your answers in a table and discuss them with your colleagues and other institutions.
In the chapter ‘An appropriate support for all’ you will find more ideas on how the community can provide support in the classroom.
It is important that teachers help the pupils and the community to understand that good interactions contribute to the children’s success in school. To connect the school and the community and to open the school to community life, teachers can plan and organise field trips. To prepare these field trips, teachers will work with pupils on developing questionnaires, surveys and the best ways for using them.
These field trips will not only be used for pedagogical purposes in class, but will also serve as a foundation for school correspondence among classes within the school, between classes in different schools and between schools in the region and beyond. What is collected during these outings can be used for writing a school paper/magazine. Both activities bring family and social life into the classroom and give pupils the desire and authentic reasons to write and speak about and share their written and spoken work with the community, not only through the school’s newspaper but also during the open days at school or in the community.
The outings and the activities that ensue enable pupils to understand their world and members of their community. They provide an opportunity for community members to be involved and aware of the various topics related to school life, such as disabilities, and to be invited to the school. This allows each pupil to realise that the community is just as much part of the school, as the school is part of the community. Thus, the members of community may be requested at any time to intervene in class as resources to share knowledge, support, equipment, etc. and to solve difficulties.
Pupils with special educational needs (PSEN) have an even greater need for the community. The IEP is a favorable means to involve the latter. This tool is designed by teachers to help take better account of, to monitor and assess the PSEN’s progress, in collaboration with their families. It allows teachers to measure each learner’s potential and difficulties (impairments, disabilities and barriers). It also helps to set a goal and achieve it through an action plan. This action plan is the responsibility of each: the teacher, the pupils, the parents or any other member of the community whose action can help pupils reach their full potential. It also sets a timeline to assess whether the goals have been achieved or not and whether to establish another action plan.