Community Engagement: Parent Focus Sessions

Engaging our community is important! Three questions underpin our curriculum and were weaved into three Parent Focus Sessions facilitated by Kim and myself.

What do we want to learn?

How do we learn best?

How will we know what we have learned?

School Newsletter

The session was titled ‘Past V Present’ and was presented by Nina Davis and myself. The aim was to present some major differences in the way we learnt in the past as compared to the present and why there are differences, the skills that we focus on developing at our school and to engage our parents in their learning!

We began the session by asking parents to take a stance on a range of topics. Some included:

  • Teachers are responsible for all learning
  • Homework is an essential part of learning
  • Learning can be measured by a letter or number
  • Teachers know all the answers
  • Worksheets support learning

Parents moved around the room to show their stance on these topics and in the process demonstrated physical involvement in learning and the use of thinking skills to make decisions. This was just the warm up!!! Nina and I were exhausted from just watching!

We used a Sir Ken Robinson TED Talk as a provocation titled “Schools are killing Creativity”…..we would recommend it for any parent who is interested in learning more about education. Please follow the link below.

Individually, and in groups, parents completed a Harvard University Project Zero Thinking Routine ‘Connect Extend Challenge’ to analyse and discuss the clip. The clip highlighted the need to provide students with opportunities to learn in a variety of ways, to develop individual interests and needs and to promote creativity to the same level as literacy and numeracy.

Some parent questions included:

‘How do you keep all students engaged when students are working in groups?’

‘How do you know what talents your children may have?’

Our focus then moved to the skills that research is suggesting are vital for learning in living in the 21st Century- COLLABORATION and ICT COMMUNICATION. Parents listed the skills they felt were essential for living in the 21st Century as a comparison…….Another Thinking Routine was completed ‘Think Pair Share’ where parents recorded their thinking. Some of their thoughts included ‘Organisation, Self-management, Communication, Literacy and Creativity’

Nina and I then presented the Transdisciplinary skills that our school teaches on a daily basis. These 5 skill sets include THINKING SKILLS, RESEARCH SKILLS, COMMUNICATION SKILLS, SELF MANAGEMENT SKILLS and SOCIAL SKILLS.

It was pointed out that reading, writing and mathematics are still taught explicitly in classrooms but other skills are also recognised and developed.

We concluded the session by highlighting the school’s mission statement and the school’s teaching philosophy (as Nina pointed out…not many school’s actually have either!) We aim to develop students’ gifts and talents through developing their Learner Profile and attitudes. We do this at a ground level by developing the skills they are going to need to be successful in any area they choose. Inquiry style teaching that our school believes in allows creativity and provides a format to teach reading, writing and mathematics in a real and interesting way.

We had a live chat room on for the session and parents were encouraged to leave questions, comments and ideas during and after the session. Some of the posts included: ‘How are these skills assessed in the classroom?’ ‘How can I help to develop these skills at home?’ ‘Thanks for an informative session ….

Cheers Nina


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9 responses to “Community Engagement: Parent Focus Sessions

  1. Genie

    This reminds me of Dr Sugata Mitra’s Self-Organised Learning Environments (SOLE). It’s a wonderful journey looking into how children learn through self-management and collaboration with other children and the use of ICT. After learning more about his research, I’m a big fan of Dr Mitra’s work. I’m a product of the old school teaching, where all power and knowledge lie with teachers. I was taught by the system that my creativity and my feelings were not important. My curiosity and questions were not welcome as they were not part of the education curriculum. I had no control over what I learnt. I was expected to learn unquestioningly what the system dictated I had to learn. It’s a system that has no place in our contemporary world. Don’t misunderstand in thinking that I don’t think teachers are important. In fact, they are very important as they are a source of inspiration and encouragement for young minds. So are parents. I was blessed to stumble upon your blog, Nina, as to me, you’re the epitome of what I hope my children will have for teachers. Your blog has given me insight into what happens in an IB classroom.

    As a parent, I’m trying to adopt SOLE into my home. For now, I’m doing it with my 5 year old son, as he’s not able to read yet. Next year, he’ll be starting Prep. I’m really grateful that his primary school is an IB school. There’s so few public primary schools offering IB in Victoria. I sincerely hope that there’ll be a revolution in the school community with more adopting the IB. I hope to empower my 5 year old and my other younger son, by giving them strong independent learning confidence to do well in the 21st Century, where advancement in knowledge is constant.

    To learn more about Sugata Mitra and SOLE:

    • Genie just listened to Dr Sugata Mitra. Wonderful! Will endeavour to constantly think of SOLE when I see 23 creative Year 5 students wondering what they are going to learn today! Thank you for sharing.

      • nina davis

        Hi Genie and Desiree,
        Already a fan of Dr Sugata Mitra and was recently viewing his clip with personal inquiry as the driver. Planning a presentation at school and wondering how to weave his work into the session. Thank you for your comments. I really appreciate ideas shared by others. Holidays started today so I’m hoping to catch up here with some posts. I’ve so much to write about.
        Cheers Nina

    • nina davis

      Well said! Thank you for sharing your thoughts here… and your son has had a great start to his education! 🙂
      Cheers Nina

  2. Pingback: Community Engagement: Parent Focus Sessions | P...

  3. February 2014 Parent Orientation:
    Looking forward to sharing with parents how our students learn, based on your wonderful and insightful post. Thank you Nina.

  4. Desiree Finestone

    Wow Nina! You showed the parents deep insight into the philosophies of the PYP. Great the way you engaged them in the learning experiences and thinking routines. I am on holiday in Queensland about to go for a walk. Had a quick look at my mail. (Don’t want to think of school now.) Started reading your post and couldn’t stop! Love it! Thank you for sharing. Will process this while on my walk looking at the sea on a magnificent day. You literally stopped me in my tracks!!!

    • nina davis

      Hi Desiree,
      Hope you’re having a wonderful holiday and thanks for the comment. The parent sessions were great. We even had parents from the local kindergarten… their children will start in 2014. This is something we can build on next time.
      Cheers Nina

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