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I Learned 4 Chapter 4 of The Power of Guidance

Chapter 4- The Guidance Premise: Family-Teacher Partnerships

Part One: The Family and the School
Children whose parents expect them to cooperate and to do their best at school, and who are
proud when they do, tend to have better self-discipline. [These children] are striving to achieve
family approval; to do this they must earn the teachers approval. Encouraging a high degree
of family enthusiasm for their childrens public schools and child care centers is one of the best
ways in which teachers can... build childrens self-esteem and reduce discipline problems.
Polly Greenberg, 1989

Giving Them Over to the School

This part of the chapter discusses the mistaken practice of disconnecting the role of the child
in the classroom and the role of the child in the family when, in reality, theres no separating the two;
theyre the same child. It discussed the importance of consistency between the home and school
environments and consistency of the expectations of the child in each environment. I learned that
separating the school and home role attempts to separate the influence each has and, furthermore,
forces a child to choose which environment or influence is more valuable or important, undermining
and diminishing one or the other.
I admit that I have encountered this attitude from both families and educators, but its
typically been viewed as a tool in addressing clashing interests, cultures, rules, or expectations. Its
been something I thought was a good thing at times; a familys method of discipline, lessons, or
values can conflict with that of the school or center and cause problems between the two where
consistency or compromise isnt possible. Im starting to wonder what, exactly, can be feasibly done
in each situation when this type of thing arises. I certainly agree with everything mentioned in this
part of the chapter. Im just not clear what to do about itor how much, exactly, can be done.

For the Good of the Child

This section basically reinforced what Id been discussing before in that it acknowledges that
Whether due to ethnic, racial, religious, or lifestyle factors, these [cultural] differences can and
sometimes do make building teacher-family relationships difficult. The anecdote included was
helpful in illustrating a typical instance of this nature. I learned from the anecdote that perhaps an
extra effort to connect with families is worthwhile even with the most difficult challenges present. I
thought it was interesting to ask the parent to be involved in teaching these concepts that presented
the cultural differences. Thats not something I had considered before. I realize now I wouldnt have
considered it out of fear that it might not be in line with the objectives in the class, school, or center.
In reality, it would be presenting the cultural impact for all of the children, not just the one child
whose culture was different, so that all of the children are now involved in a collective culture with a
collective understanding of all of their classmates. This addresses the issues of children being
ostracized, bullied, given different or special treatment, or neglected and limits those negative effects,
turning it into a much more positive experience and environment.

Part Two: Supporting Childrens Ties to Their Families

I learned a good way to sum up the importance of family ties in the classroom:
Family life is the experience that children know best. If children feel that their thoughts about
family are natural and completely acceptable in the classroom, they will extend their sense of
community to include both home and school. Children will be able to see themselves as
accepted and productive members of each group. The contrasting experience, feeling that the
teacher rejects ones family, causes children to feel rejected as well. Adrift in the classroom,
these children feel alienated from the complex expectation and relationships of classroom life
(Galinsky 1988). They feel stress and react against their feelings of rejection. Though it never
should be, strong-needs mistaken behavior caused within the classroom results.

Two Basic Tools

This section focused on the importance of observation, of which I am well aware, and contact
talks. Contact talks are conversations that an adult has with children in order to understand them
better. In contact talks, the adult makes a conscious decision to have the conversation, listens, and
attempts to follow the childs lead, and shares a quality moment with the child rather than use the
conversation to teach, preach, or screech;--smile).
The benefits of contact talks are:
1. ...with the adults undivided attention, children develop their thoughts, use rich
language, share feelings, andd register the adults responses.
2. ...the adult will feel she or he is a bit more attached with the childmutual acceptance
and trust have increased...
3. ...through contact talks, teachers learn about the joys and concerns of childrenand
see the particular ways that a childs world is bound up in the family.
A final thing I learned from this section, which I found particularly insightful was this: When
a teacher acknowledges the thoughts and feelings of a child (called reflective listening, active
listening, or acknowledgment), she actively supports the childs confidence and competence at
communicationeven with only a brief comment and a smile.

Observing and Talking When Children Feel Hurt

There was an anecdote in this section about a child recreating or expressing his experience
with a brother who had gone to Juvenile Detention. I imagined being in the classroom with a child
who expressed these things. I concluded that Ive seen similar expressions crop up, and that theyre
often alarming, which typically causes teachers to suppress the expression or to be unsure of what to
do and therefore ignore and neglect the issues and needs of the child. The teacher in this anecdote
talked with the child about his brother and used the calendar and counting to help the child better
understand the situation. It may not be the happiest of topics, but its important to the child, its a
teachable moment, and it is something that needs to be addressed to help the child grow, learn, and
feel self-confident.

Moving Between Child and Parent

I appreciated that this section addressed that all communication is an indication of a childs
needs, though that is not always apparent. Whats more is that this showed how smoothly addressing
the issues and needs of the child and family can be, even when there are strong emotions or difficult
issues at hand.

Part Three: Building Partnerships

I learned from this section that there are four ways to communicate between home and school:
phone calls, home visits, parent-teacher-child conferences, and parents in the classroom. As I
mentioned earlier, parents and volunteers in the classroom was something I was less familiar with,
and I greatly appreciate the insight into the practice. I guess its something Ive seen modeled in
television, but that I have seldom actually experienced in real life either as a student or an educator. I
hope to find ways to incorporate this important strategy in my classroom.

Part Four: Communicating with Parents about Guidance Issues

The first step is to understand how the parent views the child, to work at being sensitive to
cultural differences that might make communication about the child more difficult. It is important to
emphasize two things: that children are in a developmental learning process and make mistakes, but
also that children need to learn from those mistakes. Calling a hurting or disruptive behavior a
mistake does not justify it. Guidance is not necessarily permissive. Helpful correction is direction.
It helps to include the vocabulary provided by the levels of mistaken behavior, provide guidance tips,
and references or acknowledgment of the childs effort, progress, and achievements.

Communicating with Parents When There Are Disagreements

Creative conflictsarise from the diversity of life in a complex, pluralistic society in which the
right of the individual to his or her own views is accepted (Lightfoot, 1978). The teacher who respects
parents, whatever their background, realizes that disagreements in values or viewpoints need not
terminate positive relations.
Negative dissonancethe result of differences that alienate the parent from the teacher,
typically when a teacher asserts the power of the education institution over the parent, often on the
basis of the parents social or cultural background; views, values... of the parent are considered of
lesser importance than those of the teacher.

Encourage Mutual Respect.

Communicate with Staff and Consulting Professionals.
Talk to the Situation.
Model Reflective Listening.
Invite Continued Involvement.
Switch to Mediation.
Collaborate for Safety.