Sat 07-10-2017 23:18 PM
ABU DHABI, 7th October, 2017 (WAM) -- In collaboration with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD, Qudwa 2017 Global Teachers’ Forum held a teacher talk session under the theme "Parents as Partners in Teaching."
Three inspirational teachers Anika Mir from Oaktree Primary School in the UAE, Fidaq Zaatar, a finalist for the Global Teacher Prize in Palestine, and Yordan Hodzhev from the Georgi Benkovski Primary School in Bulgaria headed the panel discussion.
The session was moderated by Elizabeth Fordham, Senior Advisor Global Relations and Deputy Head of Policy Advice and Implementation Division, Directorate for Education and Skills, OECD. Based on studies that indicate the positive influence of parental involvement in a child’s education on academic outcomes and well-being, the participants discussed how teachers can engage with parents and make them partners in teaching.
During the session, Mir said, "First and foremost, we have to acknowledge that parents are our biggest stakeholders, and with my experience in England and Dubai, I know that they have very high expectations of constant and almost immediate responses to their queries. While I understand their need to be informed all the time, I strongly feel that there should be a good communications policy for teachers and parents. In the same way, we also need to implement a similar approach to set realistic goals to manage the expectations parents have of their own children."
Highlighting the effectiveness of technology for communication between teachers and parents, Mir pointed out that popular apps such as ClassDojo allow for a creative and seamless exchange of information on the student’s progress.
Responding to a question from the audience on how to address the trend among certain private schools of limiting communication with parents, Mir said, "We can find alternatives to communicate with parents. For example, in my school, we send out a newsletter at the end of the week with a summary of the week’s lessons and what is lined up for the following week. This helps the parents understand much more about what their children are learning. This is a great way to address a gap in communication between teachers and parents."
Speaking about her experience in Palestine, Zaatar said, "I realised early on that education was important to empower younger generations. However, we witnessed a rise in school drop-out rates and set out to understand the social, physical and psychological factors impacting the child’s ability to attend school. This approach helped us set pre-emptive solutions to address this issue. It also became clear to us that in order to develop solutions for our students, we need to communicate with their parents.
"To illustrate this example, we faced a serious issue of first-grade students coming to school without having eaten breakfast. Some of the students with packed sandwiches chose to throw them away. To address this issue, I launched an initiative to meet with parents and understand the challenge with school meals. Following this, we agreed on healthy and appetising meal plans, which were then consumed during a set time in the morning, with music playing in the background. This made the whole experience of eating breakfast more enjoyable, to the extent that the students started to look forward to their breakfast sessions."
Hodzhev added, "My first experience with teaching science in schools was quite chaotic, with a complete lack of interest from the students. However, this made me wonder what was causing the disorder in the classroom. I found out that the parents of these children from nearby villages were mainly engaged in mining, and studying science was never seen as a priority for determining their career. I realised I needed to work with the parents and gradually managed to convince them to show more of an interest in their children’s progress. This exchange was the beginning of what became a transformation within the classroom, where my students were more engaged and even went on to win science fair competitions. More importantly, I believe this engagement better-equipped students for their future and the future of our country."