I see 3 directions PICs may take: encourage/strengthen School Advisory Councils (SAC) at the grassroots; provide Board wide SAC/PIC events that parents can participate in; be a sounding platform to the board on how/when to engage parents and provide input (consultation). I will concentrate on the first and explain ‘once those are in place the third becomes unnecessary’.
All schools are to have School/Parent Advisory Council to promote and provide parent involvement/engagement. 'Involvement Matters: What to Tell Parents' All boards are to have PIC to support & promote parent involvement/engagement throughout the board.
I see the main role of the PIC is to support and strengthen the local SAC. How will they do this? Well like everything else, each situation is different. Many parents and schools struggle with parent involvement, due to the fact that it can and does look different to so many people. Bloggucation's 'The Family Path' Whether it is discussing school at home, helping with homework, volunteering at the school or in the classroom, organizing school activities/events, providing input on school & board policy & direction are all involvement. Some value one over the other but they are all vital to the child/student and the effective education system. Where parents feel comfortable and see the need is where they will participate, whenever, however. It is up to the School Advisory Council and school to promote and assist and welcome this participation. Some areas need to be worked on, to make parents feel their time and voices are important. The PIC can support the local SAC by providing information, resources, and workshops for members/parents to assist in their personal and group growth. The need for communication whether done by notes, newsletter, emails, phone, twitter, facebook, skype or website is first step and maybe the deciding step. Your School Doesn't Need A Webmaster' The need may be not to just to inform/educate parents and to encourage involvement/engagement but also those in the system on how to promote and accommodate it in their particular role or situation. Mechanisms need to be in place so that ALL parents can be involved. 'Understanding Parental Involvement' This can be a challenge for the SAC or school. The stronger, the more knowledgeable the SAC (parents), the more entrenched parent involvement is at the school level and affects the role of the PIC.
The second point comes out of PIC as a ‘Let’s do something different’. Whereas SACs are at the school level PICs operate at the Board level. As stated they are to support local councils. Doing a Board wide event, whether a workshop, discussion meeting or hosting a guest speaker, can bring parents across the board together. We all know the benefits of networking to learn. Connect people. 'IgniteParents'
I said that the third point would ‘become unnecessary’ with strong SACs. If parents are informed & active (involved and engaged) SACs become a place of collaboration between parents and school for effective education. The mutual acceptance of everyone’s role can do so much. When parents are knowledgeable and their voices welcome the need to request input will not be needed as it will be happily given. The consultation and input will start from step one, the where, when & how becomes automatic. Grassroots participation at work. 'Parent Involvement Is Smart'
I have stated many times ‘knowledgeable, educated or informed parent’. This is a two way street. The needed/wanted information needs to be readily available to and understandable for parents. Whether this is a Ministry directive, board policy or curriculum question, with today’s technology, information and resources are at click of a button. Parents need to take the step to obtain this information (or better still offered to them to start with) to become informed. Why is this being taught? Why is it being taught this way? How can I help? What programs are in place for assistance? What are the bases for this policy? The education system does not need to be confrontational but can it be better? Yes. Does it start with a small step by parents or a small step by educators? How about taking the steps together. 'Study Group - Parental Engagement'
There are still areas that are appear off limits but many issues arise due to not knowing how to or how able to accommodate parent involvement. Is it still the student’s work, the teacher’s classroom, the principal’s school, the board’s direction, the Ministry’s policy? Parent Involvement Coordinators' Some parents think the meaningful inclusion of their voice is taking too long. Could it be that parents and the system wanted this but both were unprepared how to incorporate it? Your thoughts - 'Lifting Bans on Parents in Classroom'