COLE: Trust, collaboration needed between school and home

By Roger Cole

Morley Stanwood Community Schools Superintendent

 

For the regular readers of this column, you know the theme has been “Building Blocks of High Performing Schools” from the Michigan Association of School Boards. This month we will look at building block No. 4: “High Levels of Collaboration and Communication.”

Roger Cole, MSCS superintendent

For new readers, you will notice as you read on that I have been comparing building a high-performing school to building a healthy family. So far the comparison has been pretty easy to see, and I would have to suggest that this month seems equally clear. Having worked in education for more than 20 years now, I can assure you that “high levels of collaboration and communication” are essential for building a healthy school. As a married man and father of two girls, I know “high levels of collaboration and communication” is equally essential for building a healthy home.

Let me quote something directly out of the booklet:

“High performing schools encompass a community of learners. … All members of the learning community – including students, parents and members of the community – work together to create a supportive learning environment and to actively solve problems and create solutions.”

This goes right to the heart of all of us working together. How many times have I said we are all in this together? That isn’t just my opinion, as you can see from the quote above. It never hurts to continue to drive home a good point. For those who are new, well, you will see this theme again.

Regularly – I might even be able to say almost daily – I am involved in conversations with employees here at school about how to improve what we do. I make no bones about the fact that I don’t have all the answers. We have to work together within the walls of this building to improve what we do and solve the problems we encounter. You, community members, need to be part of the solution as well.

Here’s another quote:

“The research clearly shows that collaborative professional communities are associated with high-performing schools. … Collegiality among teachers where teachers are able to work together in designing curriculum and in assisting one another in improving instructional techniques particularly impacts performance.”

This is why we have Mohawk Mondays. The time provided on those Monday’s is invaluable. They are devoted to curriculum development and teaming.

Look at this quote:

“Trust is essential between the school board and district leaders and staff for this kind of collaborative environment to exist.”

I can say for a fact that is true within the walls of these buildings. I also know it is true at home. Parents have to trust each other, children have trust their parents and parents, we have to do our best to trust our children. Trust is built over time, and yes, it can be lost, but I am a firm believer that it can be rebuilt as well.

The question for this article is “What level of trust exists between home and school and between school and home?” This is essential. Let me end with this quote from the text:

“Successful schools also have family and community partnerships. Parents, teachers, students and others view one another as knowledgeable partners in education. There is a belief that students learn and grow at home, at school and in their communities. “

Now let me ask you, would that be true if we didn’t trust each other? Let’s continue to build that trust by communicating and collaborating. I encourage you to contact your children’s teachers if you have a question, talk to your kids about their day when they get home, attend a board meeting, join the PTO or a booster club. The better we all know each other, the easier that trust will grow and the stronger it will become.

 

Roger Cole is the superintendent of Morley Stanwood Community Schools. Contact him at rcole@morleystanwood.org.

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