Parent Seminar in our Circuit is a great success of starting the process of rebuilding our bonds with parents

We hosted our parent seminar at Muizenberg High school today. The power of the session was the collective wisdom of the parents, the facilitators from Parent Centre and Lisa from Changing Hearts and Minds organisation. Another outstanding feature was that the entire event was managed by learners from Muizenberg High School under the leadership of Leoni and Melvine, two SMT members at the school.

Enjoying quality time in the garden and bottom left, in discussion
I attended the session facilitated by Lisa Pedersen who took our teachers on a journey entitled "An emotionally literate approach working with  parents". Throughout the interactive session, the educators (which included a few of our school heads) were fully engaged. Lisa modelled the very approach she was advocating. Such synergy between theory and practice always resonates with me. She was relaxed, affirmed the participants and gently took them through their paces. This is what teachers are looking for; different effective ways to communicate with our parents. The group was given workable strategies such as the 3 Steps that are necessary when we engage with parents and the PSP(Pastoral Support Plan) which teachers can use as a resource during parent-teacher engagements. The Circle time concept was also clearly demonstrated.

Rainbow nation
  During the tea and lunch break the participants mingled freely.  There was much laughter and sharing as we enjoyed our tea and lunch in the garden. The learner waitrons (who also doubled as the caterers for the event) ensured that  we were comfortable and well fed.  It was all about equality, about validation, about affirmation - learners, parents and teachers being ordinary human beings in communion.

From Top clockwise: Pierre, Leoni, Lisa and Feroza; Learner Event Management Team x 2 pics; plenary session  pic.
One of Muizenberg High's strengths is their deliberate, consistent search for opportunities to hone their learners' leadership skills. Dave Shaw, the Head of Muizenberg High School, always agrees to host the event because they see the event as a catalyst to link "the world of work with school" for their learners. The school has hosted our RCL Leadership Conference and our Care&Support and Life Skills symposium on previous occasions.This time the learners shone again. On arrival, there were ushers to greet you and then escort you to the hall  for a morning tea. Our programme director (also a learner), took us through our paces and then all the participants were escorted to their breakaway sessions.  Wonderful, wonderful stuff.  During the tea break we had an interesting discussion about why most schools limit learner involvement to menial portfolios such as parking attendants, ushers and handing out the programme pamphlets.  We agreed that the Muizenberg model was worth exploring, even at Primary school. Learners have enormous capacity; we just have to create the spaces for them to display their gifts.

Sharing time.  
During the plenary session, the parents expressed their gratitude for the informative seminar and for creating spaces for parents to meet and learn with and from one another. One parent, an SGB member, said he  believed that this seminar was the beginning of many more meetings for parents of this nature. Pierre, our project manager at the circuit, must be having wonderfully warm feelings about the success of this venture. He helped to bring this dream of a parent seminar to fruition and steered us all to its culmination. Well done, Pierre.

 It is clear that parents are interested and they want to nurture their children. It is also evident that teachers and schools want to establish healthy relationships with parents.That is why we had a good attendance today. Our adults want to be our children's mentors; the chief caregivers. Part of our struggle is not having the tools to fulfill our role as caregivers because admit, life is hard and the world has changed. What worked in the past has lost its edge. What is good parenting and good teacher-parent relationships have also gone to pot because of the way life has changed.  Values have changed in society and we are genuinely having a tough time even finding our own identity in this rat race. However, if we work along these principles of acknowledging our gaps, sharing our knowledge and committing to regain that which is slipping from us, then we have reached a Eureka moment.

Bottom Left: Pierre highly energised.
Thus today was a step in the right direction in rebuilding our families. If we want a tipping point we should continue as Lisa said:  " Invest, nurture and repair or rebuild".


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