Connecting With Parents
"I'm not a teacher, but as a parent..."
That's not the type of prefatory statement commonly heard in discussions at an educational conference. The speaker was Sarah Hubbard, of Belmont, California, and when she spoke up, I think every teacher's attention grew a little sharper. There were thirty to forty teachers in the room, and we applauded her for being here and speaking up.
Hubbard is attending the NBPTS Conference, as she attends other conferences, in a professional capacity for her employer, Professional Publications Inc. However, in this particular session on the topic of teacher leadership and promoting National Board Certification, Hubbard spoke up just providing her perspective as a public school parent. Her comment pointed out to us that for the moment, we had overlooked parents as a powerful ally in the effort to bring certification to more teachers in more schools. "If parents were more aware of what this professional development could mean for their kids, they would be demanding it," she remarked.
Speaking to me after the session, Hubbard said she has been around other groups of teachers, but never among a group so passionate about developing leadership and using their influence. However, her observation that we had overlooked parents was instructive.
In order to achieve National Board Certification, teachers must provide evidence that they work effectively with the parents of their students to improve student learning. Talking among ourselves about education policy, however, we sometimes get wrapped up in how we work with other stakeholders and lose sight of parents. If our reflections about teaching practice extend to reflections about leadership practice, then Hubbard has done us a service in prompting some reflection.
With a leadership position of her own in her school's PTA, Hubbard says that she intends to suggest that the PTA support National Board Certification, by providing information, advocacy, and perhaps funding to help candidates. Not only should the teachers in that district appreciate Hubbard's support, but also those teachers from all around the country who benefited from her perspective.