An Open Letter to Our Parents from the Headmaster
One of my well-known mantras is “At TASIS Portugal, we believe the education of our students is a partnership with parents, and together we will achieve the greatest learning outcomes.”
But what does this mean? What should that partnership look like?
I've spent the greatest portion of my time in these early days of the school trying to define, demonstrate, and model what our educational partnership should resemble. I call it "creating the school and community culture of TASIS Portugal." I have written about school culture in broader terms in past blogs, but here I will attempt to put a finer point on it.
First, the school has the largest responsibility in this partnership. We must state our goals, live our mission, and communicate frequently. That communication takes the form of policies, protocols, our website, and our strategic plan. More intimately, our administrators and our teachers communicate regularly with parents via email updates, weekly newsletters, webinars (Coffee with Keith) and video of our school in action.
Most recently, we webcast our school assembly and soon will do the same with our holiday celebrations. Further, you should expect personal responses to your questions by phone, email, and in-person meetings to discuss your child´s progress. During the pandemic, this is only possible in small groups or by video-conferencing which, while not ideal, is the next best option. As our first term comes to a close, you will have had two parent-teacher conferences and a very robust and detailed set of written reports. Additionally I know, because I've seen many of them, you receive detailed correspondence from our teachers when your child requires support or has received a special acknowledgment.
As headmaster, I meet families at drop-off and pickup whenever possible, and never shy away from reminding both students and parents when expectations of respect, tolerance, self-discipline, and positive reinforcement are required. That is my job–to set the cultural expectations for the school.
As a parent, you are expected to do your part as an active partner. That means we are both communicating. However, by that I don’t mean through WhatsApp or other social media. Teachers deserve to hear from you regarding the areas in which your child might require support, what children are saying about their classes, and whether their educational experience is satisfying and productive.
Too often, parents communicate when their expectations are not being met (which is fine) but fail to message directly with the teachers of their children. Teachers have a very challenging job and they are always buoyed by the positive commentary that flows to them, sometimes from you to me and me to them. I must say that in that regard, our parents have been outstanding. The level of support for what we are doing and how we are doing it has been very uplifting. The positive communication you share makes a big difference in creating the supportive culture of this school community.
Lastly, in building our community, please remember that it is all about relationships, just like any family. If you want to inspire your children and those who work most closely with them, the more respectful and productive your relationships are with the teachers of your children, the more positive the educational experience will be for all. There have been only a few examples of less-than-respectful communication between parents and the school to date, mostly from parents who are still establishing the trusting relationships and appropriate tone required to build strong partnerships with the school.
Together, we can accomplish amazing things with your children. Let us continue to focus on supporting your children, our students, by doing our part to build their self-esteem and self-discipline. If we continue to present a united front in setting expectations and communicating in a positive and respectful manner, your children will reap the greatest benefits.
In closing, I am very proud of where we are in these nascent days of the school´s evolution, and I look forward to building, with you, the healthiest school culture and strongest partnership.