One goal of all great schools is to establish a good working partnership with parents. Parents are not stockholders with voice and vote on administrative decisions, but they are “stakeholders.” Their large “stake” in the school is that it operates effectively so that their investment with their children and their tuition dollars is rewarded. In this sense, they are also customers or clients, as opposed to “friends” or “family members,” who on occasion expect accommodations from us that are not in either party’s best interest. The satisfaction of customers or clients is important for an operation to prosper.
HAYIDION The Prizmah Journal
Parents are the school’s primary clients—and often, the most difficult stakeholders to manage. Acquire wise guidance for engaging parents, turning them from clients to genuine partners in the work of the school and their children’s education. At the same time, learn tactics and strategies for working with “difficult” parents through effective policies and boundaries.
Click here to download the PDF and printer friendly version of this issue of HaYidion
The interactions between parents and schools occur in two locations: at school itself, where parents come into direct contact with school life, and at home, where children literally and figuratively transport school back to their families in their knapsacks. In the Spring 2008 HaYidion, I argued that day schools have in recent times taken on the roles traditionally played by synagogues in the lives of North American Jewish adults as Beit Knesset, Beit Midrash and Beit Tefillah; they have become places of meeting, study and spiritual inspiration, for adults.
We know what our parents think…they have no problem picking up the phone and letting me know just what’s on their mind.”
“We’ve surveyed parents before and got about 30-40% to reply.”
Parents of day school children are, as a rule, idealistic. That idealism shows up in the expectations parents have for their children’s school, which they want to be of the highest quality in both Jewish and general studies. And their idealism underlies their expectations that their own children will not only succeed but excel. And therein lies the root of many problems parents encounter both with the school and their own children.
Have you kvelled over your children lately and felt a sense of pride at giving them a wonderful Jewish day school experience? Are their teachers filling their heads with more Hebrew and Judaic knowledge than you have, even though they are only in the first grade? Have you shared this with anyone else—grandparents, a neighbor, a colleague, or a friend?
It is trite but nonetheless true that middle school is all about transitions. Students begin these years as children and end them as young adults. The overt chemical and physical changes that their bodies undergo during these years are complemented by (mostly) unseen mental and psychological development that brings them academically from rote memorizers to abstract thinkers and from children on playdates to teenagers on, well, dates. Indeed, one wag once commented to an audience of public school parents that “middle schoolers come to us as babies—and leave us able to have babies.” While this may scare some of us (or make us glad our children are educated somewhat more insularly), the summary is apt.
At the last RAVSAK conference, Dr. Alex Pomson shared with us research findings on the motivations of parents who enroll their children in our Jewish community day schools. Large numbers come in search of community. Above all else, they wish to be involved in their children’s schooling for both their children’s learning and growth and their own learning and growth.
Being a teacher or administrator in a Jewish Day school at a time when Blackberries, Facebook, and Twitter prevail is not easy. It probably wasn’t easy before parents had a myriad of ways to find us, but we live in an age of instant gratification. In other words, parents want to be responded to immediately and we feel in the hot seat to do so.
- ‹ previous
- 2 of 2