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New Family Connection Program • ENGAGE for Dec. 13, 2018

Scott Erickson, Head of School

ENGAGE is the newsletter of the Head of School. His message to parents is reproduced here.

We want to build a learning community with a strong sense of belonging. (In fact, we just finished a three-part GATHER talk series on the topic.) To help us achieve this goal, we want to elevate our love-of-learning culture into our family community because you and PBS teachers are co-educators of your children.

Throughout the fall, I have been thinking a lot about parent education as a love-of-learning opportunity. My purpose here is to enhance a peer-to-peer learning environment that honors the uniqueness of each family’s values while ensuring we deliver our mission, model our core values, and provide tools you can use at home. I’ve reflected on educational research, faculty-parent surveys, coffees attended by 233 parents, and dozens of discussions. Here is what I’ve learned:

  • Our mission and core values comprise the anchor for everything we do.
  • This strong foundation means we can re-imagine family education to improve in new areas and address complex topics on parents’ and teachers’ minds.
  • You have reacted positively to my suggestion of a customized series of sessions, not one-size-fits-all.
  • You like the idea of sessions that are co-planned, co-owned, and co-led by school and parents – an approach to offer both expertise and personal experience.
  • You appreciate in-person discussions, with videos available if you’re unable to attend.
  • You are glad that we’ve been developing new initiatives to improve academic rigor and grow confident, well-prepared students. As a reminder, here’s my November ENGAGE article.

Based on all this feedback, we have designed the next generation of parent education at PBS. We’re calling it the PBS Family Connection Program:

  • Pilot series January to May, then taking what we learn to build a full program next year
  • Each session planned and presented by a team of parents, teachers, and administrative leaders
  • Sessions track directly to PBS core values and offer suggestions on a variety of topics, something like a helpful toolkit for PBS families.
  • Each session tackles a top-of-mind issue, thus an opportunity for new learning.
  • Each session will reinforce the Community Charter that we co-created at parent coffees.

PBS Family Connection Program

1. How to Optimize the PBS Curriculum at Home

Thursday, January 10, at 8:30 a.m.

Independence and mastery are research-based learning objectives that we measure in PBS progress reports. To achieve these goals, teachers need to know what their students are able to do on their own. Parents often ask questions about how best to advance learning without being too proscriptive or detracting from curricular mastery. This session will offer tips and guidelines on how to bring the PBS curriculum to life at home. (Add to calendar.)

2. What to Do When Things Go Wrong at School

Thursday, February 14, at 8:30 a.m.

Ups and downs are inevitable in any school – related to academics, emotional intelligence, teacher-student relationships, and more. We cannot avoid every pitfall, yet it is helpful to set the tone, standards, and guidelines for what to do when things go wrong, are headed in an unexpected direction, or get off on the wrong foot. This session will define what two-way communication needs to look like so that high-quality tone and language defines the PBS school-home partnership, especially when things are complicated. (Add to calendar.)

3. Increasing Accountability and Responsibility by Being Both Firm and Kind

Wednesday, March 20, at 8:30 a.m.

Our school community does a great job modeling and acting on our core value of kindness. Because of that, it’s really important to be intentional that we also value being firm and direct so students learn to be accountable to their teachers and peers. We also want them to understand there are consequences when they do not live up to their responsibilities, something apt for student behavior as well as for a healthy academic life. This session will outline practices in class and at home that can help us teach children to own their behavior and to increase responsibility and trust in their relationships. (Add to calendar.)

4. Readiness Series

4A. Reading Readiness: Tracking the arc of progress

Thursday, April 11, at 8:30 a.m.

It’s wonderful to watch our children and students develop and grow as readers. We also want them to be voracious readers and to love reading. Although we know that children progress differently and at different paces, it can be difficult to avoid comparing them to their peers. This session offers both expertise and experience on how reading develops in young children, what parents can do to support reading development, and how PBS keeps a careful eye on individual student progress to ensure they are on track. (Add to calendar.)

4B. Middle School Readiness: Our graduates’ experience and performance

Thursday, April 25, at 8:30 a.m.

Ninety percent of PBS graduates have been admitted to one or more of their top three middle school choices, and 80 percent of last year’s graduates were admitted to their first choice. At the same time, parents have noted readiness for middle school as a top concern. To address that concern, and to reflect the best educational research, we have been developing new initiatives for our academic program. This session will share specific information on how our graduates are performing in middle school and will outline how PBS is continuing to develop a curriculum that increases their preparedness. (Add to calendar.)

5. Parenting and Teaching in an Age of Anxiety

Thursday, May 23, at 8:30 a.m. 

There are many wonderful opportunities and exciting learning experiences available to today’s children, which were not even imaginable a decade ago. At the same time, we know that stress and anxiety are on the rise in middle and high schools, with increased competition and pressure to achieve. In addition, curricular change is fast-paced and sometimes difficult to understand. Indeed, families are experiencing a lot of pressure, which has caused some observers to call this the Age of Anxiety. This session will articulate how to create a healthy learning climate at home and school, and we will share tips for parenting and giving children the skills to manage their anxiety. (Add to calendar.)

Sessions Coming Up in Fall 2019

  • Parenting and Teaching to Support All Learning Styles
  • Readiness Series: Efficacy of standardized tests and how to prepare for them
  • Math Teaching and Learning
  • [Your Idea Here]: If you have ideas about sessions for our Family Connection Program in 2019-2020, please let me know.

Scott Erickson has been Head of School at PBS since 2011. In that time, he has focused on curriculum growth, faculty support and professional development, expanding parent and community relationships, partnering with the board to strengthen the school’s financial position, and developing and implementing the school’s Strategic Action Plan. Scott enjoys reading, public speaking, projects at home, exercise, traveling, and time with family, friends, and pets.

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