Today, like every year since I married a lovely Italian lady over 20 years ago, I was involved in the annual family tradition of making tomato sauce. It was hard work but I was struck by the many good feelings that always come from working together on this family project. We had a common goal. We all had roles that were essential to the completion of the project according to our capabilities. Whether it was cleaning the jars and lids; bringing in the tomatoes; cutting and cooking the tomatoes; running the tomatoes through the machine; filling the jars; tightening the lids; or boiling the jars; everyone had to work together to make it happen.
A school community is so much like this. We need to engage everyone in the community. Everyone needs to feel that they are important and an essential part of the community. They need to know that they are doing real work that is just challenging enough at every point in their development. My children have moved from putting basil in the jars to being trusted to carrying the heavy buckets of hot tomatoes and filling the jars.
Parents in our school communities also need to know that they are an essential part of the community. We need to seek them out. We need to solicit their input. We need them to know that we value their input. When parents feel valued by admin and other staff they become much more engaged and supportive. We build capital with them so that when we make mistakes (and we will) we have built the relationships to get past them.
The feeling I experienced while sitting in my sister in law’s front yard eating tomato salad and a panino during a break today, reminded me of our Parent Council Barbecue last June. A family and a school community. Both feeling satisfied in a job well done. Both feeling safe and content with a group of people who trust and value one another. This needs to be our goal in every classroom, in every staffroom, and in every school. So – pasta anyone?