Just as classrooms represent the diversity of our society and communities, so will the body of parents and caregivers within our school community.

When we are open to what parents and caregivers bring us, to their ideas and experiences, they may feel less judged. By making a mental effort to take in differences that may challenge our world view, and to question our judgments we create a space where parents and caregivers can feel safe and accepted, and welcome. This can decrease defensiveness and increase the likelihood that they in turn will respond with openness and non-judgment.

Being open to parents’ and caregivers’ experiences and viewpoints requires us to be willing to question ourselves. When we are open we are willing to learn from parents and caregivers, to let them be our teachers. At the same time, we need to exercise some judgment, since we are responsible for the well-being of our students.

When we practice awareness in combination with an attitude of openness, we can listen carefully to our internal responses. We can try with honesty and authenticity to distinguish between our biases, our personal values and assumptions, and our indispensible professional assessment of a situation and its impact on students.

Saying it

Here are phrases that reflect an attitude of openness to parents’ and caregivers’ perspective:

  • "I hear what you’re saying. I’d like to hear more about that. Can you give me a specific example of how you think I’ve been unfair to your child?"
  • "I can see that from your perspective, you don’t think I’ve done enough to make sure your child fits in. Let me give you a few examples of what I’ve tried, and then together we can see if there are more things you’d like me to try."