“Partnering With” Parents Much More Effective Than “Dealing With” Them

At your school, do you deal with parents, or do you partner with them?  There’s a definite difference and it begins with you as the school’s leader.

In my travels, many teachers and school leaders believe that parents of students today are different.  Teachers leaving the profession note that parental engagement and challenges with parents are among the chief reasons for their departures.


The cartoon (above, credit to Pinterest) has circulated around the education word for the last few years.  The extent to which this characterized parents most likely differs from school to school, but it is hard to argue that relationships between school and home have changed over recent years.  The questions that school leaders should be asking, however, can potentially reverse these trends.

  1. How do my teachers view the parents of their students?
  2. What would a closer partnership between parents/school mean for student achievement?
  3. How do we move from dealing with parents to partnering with parents?

Just as teachers who have been around for awhile would say that the parents have changed, its just as true that parents would say the same, that teachers have changed over the years.  Waxing nostalgic is not a great stance or strategy.  School leaders should be wary of painting such broad strokes about a group of people so critical to student success.  That said, we have much more influence on how we, as a school, view and relate to the parents of our students.

A quick reminder of where student achievement derives is plenty enough reason to place a new priority on our relationships with home.  Despite all of our efforts at school, our contribution to student achievement makes up about a third of a student’s performance.  While we have worked hard to fine tune our part of the contribution, we would be well-served to assist in the other areas (home and community) that contribute to a student’s success. 


The leader sets the tone, shapes the norms, and develops standards by which the school operates.  If the principal and administrative team tolerate parents, then the faculty will follow that lead and learn to manage them while proceeding with their efforts to educate the children. If, however, the leader sets a positive tone towards parents and embraces them as partners in their children’s success, the faculty will follow suit.

Yes, there are challenging parents at your school and every school, but what if we began to double down on our efforts to engage and partner with parents?  What if the result of this work led to the students at our school giving a greater effort in school?  What would your school look like if all of your students increased their daily effort by 10%?  15%?  25%?  You know what would happen.  Decreased behavioral issues; increased performance; happier students, teachers, and parents.  That’s what we could get if we had a renaissance in parental engagement, greater effort by students.  

Is this all just talk?  Hardly.  But the reason that everyone isn’t doing is it is because it’s hard to do.  Be the leader that makes a difference.  Think about how your school and home relationships stand today and what you can do to make them closer than ever.

#Leadership365  /44




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