Travis Nakayama, University of Hawaii at Hilo
Advising teacher education students can be a challenging task, as there are many requirements to be aware of. First, advisors should be familiar with (1) academic policies within their respective institutions, (2) teacher licensure requirements for their respective states, and (3) national teacher accreditation requirements.Collectively, these policies and requirements mandate that teacher education programs place a strong emphasis on content knowledge and refining pedagogy. Lost within the bureaucratic requirements of teacher education is the need for teachers to become in touch with parents and the community. As students frequently visit their advisors for guidance, advisors should recommend to their students that they take an active role in establishing relationships with parents and the surrounding community.
Where Do Parent and Community Relationships Rank?
At the end of the University of Hawaii at Hilo Teacher Education Program, mentor teachers are asked to appraise the teacher candidates’ performance to the Hawaii Teacher Performance Standards. Each teacher candidate is assessed on a scale of 1-3, with 3 being “exemplary,” 2 being “proficient”,”and 1 being “functional.” Based on the results, teacher candidates received near exemplary scores on the Teacher Performance Standards that relate to pedagogy, classroom management, professionalism, and content knowledge. Contrastingly, teacher candidates received proficient scores for TPS 10, which focuses on establishing relationships with parents and the community.
How Important Are Parent and Community Relationships?
Beginning teachers must work toward establishing a professional rapport with parents. Jeanne E. Ormrod (2011) in Educational Psychology: Developing Learners suggests “students whose parents are more involved in school activities have better attendance records, higher achievement, and more positive attitudes toward school” (p. 482). She also indicates that “parents are apt to become involved in school activities when they have a specific invitation to do so, and when they know that school personnel genuinely want them to be involved” (p. 483).
Another integral part of teaching entails working with the community at large. Many students usually participate in activities outside of school, which may include sports teams and church groups. Teachers are most effective when they understand the environments of their students (Ormrod, 2011). By taking part in local community events, teachers will educate themselves regarding the various cultural backgrounds found within their communities, which can lay the groundwork for establishing positive relationships with the institutions and people that play a major role in the lives of students (Epstein, 1996).
What Can Advisors Do?
In order to successfully advise teacher candidates about the importance of establishing these relationships, advisors need to understand each student’s needs, as well as the various groups that influence a particular community. Since every student is different and has various strengths and interests, recommendation to a particular community group needs to be made on a case-by-case basis. Here are some tools advisors need to have to better assist students in developing parent and community relationships:
- Identify Various Groups Within Each Community. In order to successfully recommend a community group to a teacher candidate, an advisor must understand the various groups within their communities. Certain groups focus on particular interests, and therefore not every group will match the interests of each student. Developing a list of the various community groups and the interests they serve can help an advisor locate and recommend community groups to their students.
- Identify Interests and Strengths of Every Student. Advisors should identify the strengths and interests of every student and match each with a particular community group. Students that enter teacher education programs choose different licensure routes and have diverse interests and backgrounds. The community group advisors recommend to the student should match their particular interests.
Where to Start?
As advisors are often visited for input and guidance, prospective teacher candidates must be reminded that parent and community involvement are key aspects to becoming a holistic teacher. Often, establishing these relationships requires time and perseverance, especially for candidates who are not familiar with a particular culture or community.
Below are three general resources for prospective teacher candidates to help them become acquainted with the people and culture within a particular community.
- Local Affiliates of the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA). Becoming involved with a local affiliate of the National PTA is an easy way to connect with students, teachers, administrators, and other stakeholders who share interest in a particular school and community. PTAs are often used as a resource for parents to keep abreast of the progress of their children.
- Local Chapters of the National Education Association (NEA). Involvement with local chapters of the NEA is a great way for prospective teacher candidates to meet new and veteran teachers from various schools within their community. NEA involvement also provides an opportunity to learn about new legislation and laws affecting the public education landscape.
- Academic and Social School Events. Within every community, there is a plethora of events dedicated to showcasing the academic and athletic talents of the youth. Participating, whether by being a spectator, official, or mentor, can be very beneficial for the growth of prospective teacher candidates. Through these interactions, they can better understand that personal and social development is equally important for children and adolescents.
Even as we advise our teacher candidates on the numerous topics and hurdles that they need to understand, we as advisors should not overlook the standards that are similar to Hawaii’s TPS 10. We must remind our teacher candidates that establishing and cultivating relationships with parents and communities is a personal and positive step to ensuring a better future for education as a whole.
University of Hawaii at Hilo
Epstein, J. L. (1996). Perspectives and previews on research and policy for school, family, and community partnerships. In A. Booth & J.F. Dunn (Eds.), Family-school links: How do they affect educational outcomes? Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Ormrod, J. E. (2011). Educational psychology: Developing learners. (7th ed.) Boston: Pearson Education Inc.
Cite this article using APA style as: Nakayama, T. (2012, June). Advising for activism: Encouraging teacher candidates to establish parent and community relationships. Academic Advising Today, 35(2). Retrieved from [insert url here]