Teachers find many ways to raise students’ awareness around equity, inclusion and bullying prevention, often weaving it into the curriculum and making it part of our daily classroom teaching. (See Mobilizing Your School, and Strategies for Positive Action.) Awareness-raising with parents and caregivers by keeping them informed of our classroom conversations is no less important. Ideally, this helps to ensure that the same conversations – for example, about compassion, respect for differences and being an ally – are taking place at home and at school.
Teachers can communicate to parents and caregivers when a particular issue or subject related to equity, inclusion or bullying prevention will be broached. They can propose to parents and caregivers that they initiate conversations about a particular scenario or issue.
Certain issues may be new or difficult for some parents and caregivers to discuss with their children. For example, some parents and caregivers may have never thought or learned about diversity in sexual orientation and gender identity. Others may have little information about other ethnocultural groups, or about the experiences and challenges faced by newcomers to Canada. They may need additional support and information to discuss these with their children at home.
Treating equity, inclusion and bullying prevention as seriously as academics may encourage parents and caregivers (as well as students) to give it the attention it deserves. We can remind parents and caregivers that many of the values, attitudes and social skills that are necessary to contribute to a safe and inclusive school community will also be important for students to navigate our larger society and culture. Respect for differences, assertiveness, cooperation, constructive ways of recognizing and dealing with abuses of power, are all skills and attitudes that are prized in many work environments.