Wednesday, January 8, 2014

How Do I Get Parents To Believe In SOLE?

                When I get asked “How Do I Get Parents To Believe In SOLE?” I always come back to this fact. SOLE is about giving kids the right to become active participants in their education. It is about creating a trusting partnership between the teacher and the students. It is this basic fact that gives SOLE its power. Without this SOLE is simply another research tool and nothing else.
                The students themselves are the greatest ambassadors of the program. The idea is that once you have the students buying into it, taking it home, talking about it, and talking about their excitement in learning, the parents become curious. What parent does not want their child to come home every day and answer the question, “What did you learn in school today?” with a number of bits of information the child is eager to share. Parents frequently comment they have never seen their child so excited about school. The positive environment becomes contagious. It builds on other positive moments.
                The other thing we did to help with the parents buy in to SOLE was to hold a parents information session. This information session was developed by the students. They put together a slide show, divided up the parts for speaking, set a date and invited their parents. Many parents do not normally come to the school for an information session about learning. However when their children are presenting and insisting their parents be there you get a full turnout. The students did an amazing job presenting that evening but they had an ace up their sleeve. They informed their parents they were going to perform a SOLE. There were predetermined topics, the parents were asked to form groups of 4, given a research recording sheet, and sent to computers to work. The discussion between the parents surprised the students. They had never seen their parents so animated about learning. Even those parents who were a little reluctant, “I have already graduated!” felt the student and peer pressure and joined in the fun. The students called their parents back into the group after 30 minutes and had their parents present their findings. It made for a great family night and it let the parents see and feel what the kids were doing.

                The partnership between the teacher and the students is the vital component to make SOLE work. The relationship that develops is what makes school fun. And that is what school should be about. More in depth learning takes place. More questions are asked. More involvement in learning is evident. Yes, the relationship between the students and their teacher is the core of a good SOLE and a good education.