We consider the positive influence of caring adults in all that we do at TASIS Portugal. We do this because we know that when the messages from parents align with those from teachers, children feel secure and do better in school. A partnership approach seems like common sense. In the past, when school communities were smaller and more close-knit, these relationships were more natural, and conversations between parents and teachers were frequent and often more social. Children understood that adults at home and school held the same expectations.
With the complexities of our modern, dynamic, internationally mobile society, schools must intentionally establish the framework of common-sense parent/teacher partnerships. Both parents and teachers know the children exceptionally well, yet do not often have enough time to get to know one another. If parents and teachers are only in conversation when a child is struggling or in trouble, the negative context can breed misunderstanding, mistrust, a lack of respect, and blame.
We must work together because parents' and teachers' roles in a child's development overlap significantly, especially during this pandemic. Children do not stop learning about moral and social-emotional development when they enter a classroom, nor do they stop learning academics or attitudes about learning when they go home. Children are some of the best observers and mimics of adults in their lives. They pay attention to and are influenced by how adults treat one another, make decisions, and solve problems.
We actively welcome parents as partners in the educational process and are consistently impressed with families' supportive and positive responses. Many families make enormous commitments of time and energy to support their children both at home and at school. Parents take active roles in the TASIS Parent Association, as volunteers, and in the strategic planning process. We plan parent education nights that mirror the topics of our faculty professional development days, and the school has an open-door policy around parent communication. Finally, we encourage questions, curiosity, patience, and manners to model a diplomatic approach for our students.
One of the critical reasons that Mrs. Fleming founded an American school in Europe was her belief in the importance of internationalism. She was convinced that if young people from across the globe had the opportunity to live, work, and play together (to get to know each other), then the world would be a much better and safer place. As she wrote in her address book, "Peace is a journey of a thousand miles that must be taken one step at a time" (Lyndon Johnson). – From “The Wit and Wisdom of Mary Christ Fleming”