When teachers recognize that a particular parent or caregiver may feel marginalized or less comfortable participating in the school system, we can look for ways to redistribute power and include them in a meaningful way. At a school-wide level, administrators, teachers and other school staff can adopt strategies aimed at increasing parents’ and caregivers’ ability to play an active role in creating a safe and inclusive school culture. Such strategies reduce the likelihood that parents and caregivers will be vulnerable to exclusion and inequity within the school system.
One way to achieve this is by adopting an empowerment-based approach to our interaction with parents and caregivers, either as individuals or as a group. There are a myriad of ways to do so, many of which can be woven into everyday interaction, or integrated into whole school planning of initiatives aimed at developing a safe and inclusive school culture.
We know that not all parents and caregivers will avail themselves of opportunities to constructively share power with teachers and schools. Integrating this approach into a school’s orientation, structure and everyday functioning does establish a necessary foundation. It increases the likelihood that parents and caregivers, including those who feel alienated and unsure of themselves in a school setting, will become involved and become important partners in creating a flourishing school culture.
Overall, strategies to facilitate empowerment in order to share power with parents and caregivers seek to:
- increase their access to information;
- provide skills and resources to increase their personal and social power by building their capacity for decision-making and their ability to take action;
- build supportive networks among peers and community resources.