Senior leaders and parents from Hampden Street School share how they connected with parents as they introduced the development of their innovative learning environment. The sudden introduction caused some concern for parents. Since then, they have sent several newsletters, developed a “Frequently asked questions" document that was sent to all parents, and run several parent evenings. The school has an open to invitation to parents to come into classrooms and the response by parents has been positive.
Don McLean: We all know that changes in society mean that parents want to be part of the school, they want to feel like they can approach us and talk to us.
Darren Palmer: The introduction of modern learning environment at Hampden Street School was brought in very suddenly. The staff, the principal, the board came to us and went, “parents, we’re going to do this”. For a lot of us, all we heard was things like, “bean bags”, and, “breakout spaces”. So this new modern learning environment gave us an opportunity to get nice new classrooms, but what would it really mean? Since then, in the two years, I’ve changed my mind. From being an absolute sceptic to start with, now I’m part of it, locked and loaded.
Don McLean: We probably, in reflection, could have introduced our MLE pedagogy better than we did but that was a good learning curve for us. Since then, we’ve done things like I put out a newsletter to parents, “Frequently asked questions about the MLE”, so I wrote down all the questions that I’d had from parents over time and I put down all the answers to them on there and sent that out as a document to the parents so they understood where a little bit of the thinking was and could answer those questions that they had obviously, and one or two brave parents had come forward and asked. We had our initial parent evening but since that evening we’ve probably had about five parent evenings on various things.
Rachael Kearney: We had lots of email contact from the school and invitations to attend seminars and we got to talk to various people from the Ministry and Don. They’ve sort of kept us up-to-date with the things that they were going to do, or are doing
Rebecca Armstrong: When you’re in the middle school, to say, “these are the sorts of things that are going to happen for you guys next year”, so you were prepared for this big ICT impact on your life because it was quite different. They’ve done it in a varied way. So sometimes there’s been a meeting straight after school while your kids are outside playing. Sometime’s it’s been really hands on where it’s a breakfast where they’ve provided muffins and coffee and people are on their way to work, have come in and just seen and chatted to the kids about what they’ve been doing and that was really great having the kids involved and for them to do the talking.
Darren Palmer: The school’s been very open to invitation to parents. You can cruise into the class and say, “Hey, is it alright if I sit and see what’s going on?”, and they’ve really welcomed us in in that respect too. So I’ve seen the teacher guiding kids, not standing at the front pointing the finger or at the whiteboard or whatever and I think it’s worked really well, especially for my ten-year-old.