Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Strengthening partnerships ; Empowering parents & children through building social skills

Collaboration between a team of teachers digging into the data from children and parents led to a recent parent event. Here is a reflection around the process and outcomes so far. Thanks to the St Patrick's staff and Lucas Tuan-Mu for their valued contribution to the event and this post.

School Community Sphere
Target (Index figures for 2018)
Evidence of change
To strengthen partnership within our community
Community Engagement 77(Community Engagement Variable)
-Review and analyse feedback from parents/action learning events

-POPE parents as open partners in education meetings

-Develop Learning Community Site
-Creation of targeted goals and actions from feedback to promote school community partnerships
-Increased attendance at school/ family partnership events eg Family Masses and Host Family nights, Information Nights
-Learning celebrations, open sessions for the community and utilise skills from parent
Parent engagement in student learning is strengthened

The above actions form part of our St Patrick’s Annual Action Plan 2017 Here is the link. The School Community goal provides a context for our purpose to engage parents.

Research around the value of collaboratively sharing expertise and using the Spiral of Inquiry framework as a guide going forward, lead to the engagement of parents as partners in a “Building Social Skills” initiative.
Based on playground data and conversations with children, teachers and parents; staff innovatively created a renewed approach to supporting the development of positive social and emotional skills in the Middle Years. This commenced with the Year 4 children.

The action team began with the Deputy Principal, Student Support Leader and Principal. This grew to include the Year 4 teachers, Student Well Being Leader, teacher librarian and registered school psychologist. Many planning meetings took place, leading to the initial parent evening. Details around the specific wording of the invitation to parents, the format of the evening, proposed outcomes, the best venue and necessary resourcing evolved, as part of the depthening of this inquiry.

One goal for the evening was to allow time for parents to interact and share their experiences with each other as part of the planned parent activities.

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Parent’s participated enthusiastically as they shared and discussed social challenges for their children and families at home. Common issues rose to the top of the ranking ladders. These included answering back/ arguing, sibling rivalry and electronic devices.Screen Shot 2017-03-19 at 2.06.48 PM.png
Our Deputy Principal, Liz Hills, spoke about the social challenges some of our children may face at school. Liz explained that we want to empower all children to take ownership of any issues. If children are feeling anxious or worried, for example, about school friendships, they may not be able to focus on their learning.
Together, parents and teachers can help empower children to develop the life skills to handle worries and concerns. Instead of writing an email directly to the teacher, when a child shares a concern, parents can ask the following questions and support children to solve issues:
How did you manage that ?
Who did you tell ?
How did you feel ?
Our Year 4 teachers, mentioned the ongoing support for children in classrooms. In particular, the work with Friendly Kids, Friendly Classrooms. There is a display outside the Year 4 classrooms.
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Our Student Support Leader, Kerryn Oliver, explained the importance of a holistic education. We have a large team of dedicated staff who want to support all children to succeed.
Kerryn introduced Lucas Tuan-Mu, our school psychologist, an expert in this field of work.

Lucas explained his day to day work and the importance of supporting all students to develop positive social skills. Developing social skills will enable children to be more successful and confident in relationships now and in the future. The following slide summarises a range of social skills topics that Lucas has had experience supporting.
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Thirty four parents attended the evening. This is 70% attendance from the Year 4 parents. Feedback from parents was overwhelmingly positive with a request from parents of other year levels for a similar event.
Potentially, a follow up event to this initial parent evening will be planned to continue to strengthen parent partnerships to support learning through building social skills. Supporting parents and children until the end of Year 6 at St Patrick’s will ensure a strong, positive transition to secondary school. The Spiral of Inquiry is ongoing. We will continually collaborate to strive for successful outcomes for the whole community.

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