Sometimes the press brings attention to diversity or lack thereof or controversy in the curriculum regarding what teacher's teach or don't teach. An Upper Valley parent who has contributed a lot of time to working with teachers and schools to increase understanding of multicultural issues recommends that, in the interest if honoring the school and your own contribution there, parents not grant interviews to print or other media. This person added, however, that “if there was collective action I would speak out with the action to make change if needed."?
When we identify inaccuracies, omissions, or other problems in the curriculum, we may be willing/able to partner with teachers to help make a difference. One parent from our community recently worked with a teacher on research and writing curriculum and lesson plans that involved the fall harvest celebration (Thanksgiving) and Native American studies. In addition to developing lesson plans together, this parent and teacher researched appropriate materials and language, and the parent developed and taught two projects in the classroom.
You may be able to work with a diversity forum (or similar group) in the school to collectively make change. One parent shared her experience advocating for training for her school’s diversity forum participants and for teachers (including advocating to the principal for designated in-service slots for diversity training). She also encouraged the committee to document in writing and share its initiatives in memo form to provide clarity about potential growth areas in discussions with teachers and principals. This school diversity forum is exploring resources for grants to try to develop additional materials for teachers.
A Dartmouth employee and parent shared this generous approach:
I asked the teacher what types of resources and projects/approaches are used to teach the fall curriculum. I asked what type of support the teacher had from the school, etc. When I learned there might be some areas for improvement (even with a seasoned teacher committed values to diversity), I offered a connection to an outside educational consultant as a resource (free), and the teacher asked for me to broker the connection. The teacher received feedback and participated in dialogue. I gave the teacher a few ‘heads up’ on what the consultant might suggest (removal of some inappropriate resources/books, etc.). After the meeting I followed-up with the teacher to find out her feedback and feelings. I learned that she agreed with the consultant’s input, was surprised by some of it, and wanted to make change. She felt anxious, however, that she did not have a source to improve or gain resources. I offered to fund and pre-select $350.00 worth of materials to jump start things and gave an additional $80.00 for the teacher and her assistant to purchase items on the consultant's resource list without my input. I additionally offered resources for the teacher to borrow some of my materials, and I offered to do one project I facilitated in the classroom. This was a great strategy to support and re-build confidence. It has been met with success, however one thing was unexpected. I had not anticipated that the teacher aid or a parent might have some resistance or concerns about so much change in one year. To deal with some uneasiness and concerns I tried to remain factual and empathetic and allow time to help things evolve so there isn't too much pressure for change too quickly. I was also conscious to step back and make sure the teacher was taking the lead, and I was there to support her.
Last Updated: 10/22/08