Anyone working in the field of education, especially those working with primary or secondary students, will tell you that what is expected of staff goes beyond behavior management, a strong understanding of classroom pedagogy, or a strong school culture that ensures rigor and targeted outcomes for students. The field of education is now, more than ever, about holistic child development. If you are not seeing it, the change might be slow, but globally there is a shift away from studying for the test, and work to develop a more well rounding citizen. In fact, as education evolves, so do parenting styles, and there is a term coined by experts for this new type of parent as the “Dolphin Parent.” Instead of the ferocity of a tiger, the dolphin parent wants their child to be well rounded, in a way best suited to their interests, and can experience a variety of things to help them hone who they will become one day.
Many people have heard about the “Tiger Parent.” This term often refers to a parent who is focused on academic performance that places their child in the top 1%, finds time to make sure their child is in various enrichment activities, and wants more than anything for their child to be on the advanced track within the school. This contrasts with the “Dolphin Parent” who is gentler in their approach to parenting, is more relational, less transactional with their child’s development, and not as heavily focused on their child’s academic KPIs. Their views on development and learning blends classroom learning and extracurricular activities that align with their child’s needs in a nurturing way.
As educators, working with a “Dolphin Parent” might be a welcomed change as the mindset is more focused on holistic development, experiences, and the nurturing a student’s interests to make them the best they can be in the area they choose. This is doubly exciting because it means there is a growing population of parents who might be able to find time in their busy schedule to participate in classroom activities, and, where possible, clear their schedule to be available to support with classroom events to help chaperone field trips.
Finding experiences that nurture interests and new open doors for your students is challenging, but a proven way to do this is by bringing your students outside of the classroom to experience new things or places. Yes, it can be stressful to manage a classroom of 35 students at the art museum or have to spend a night or two away from your family if you are selected to go to a theme park as a chaperone for your grade team, but being able to step outside of the four walls of a classroom can both give insight into who your students are, and introduce them to new, exciting things that might inspire them to become an artist or an architect!
While the idea of inspiring students might be the reason to go on the annual art museum field trip, it is important to remember that part of the planning process around any field trip is making sure you have your i’s dotted and t’s crossed, and this means a trip plan and having a permission slip signed by the parents of each of your students. With any activity or event, communication is critical with parents, and, even in this age of constant connection, there always seems to be challenges communicating with a few parents despite your best efforts.
Your effort rides on the intention of creating a great and safe educational experience for your students. However, communicating the calendar of activities, classroom needs, and other events to parents can be challenging. Regardless of what the experience is, or how you are working to create a holistic academic experience for your students, things like parent communication and permission slips are still crucial to the whole planning process! If you work with primary and secondary students, the “why” behind a field trip permission slip and the permission slip template used is to make sure students have permission to leave campus. However, what you might not know is the importance of these forms in protecting you and your colleagues in the event of an accident. Instead of thinking about the document that protects you from liability in the event of an accident, let’s focus on what we can do to create relationships with parents that will be available to support throughout the year.
Your effort rides on the intention of creating a great and safe educational experience for your students
The knowledge that more parents are wanting to be more involved and want their children to experience new things, there are opportunities to build a “pod” of dolphin parents who you can rely on to help you throughout the year both inside and outside the classroom. Yes, permission slip templates are your shield of against the swinging sword of liability in the event of an accident; however, when you are outside the classroom, knowing that you can put more eyes on students significantly reduces the chance of an accident on a field trip. By recruiting parents and having a classroom ratio of 1 adult to every 4, 5, or 6 students, you are creating a situation that allows for easier management of the students, helping to always keep eyes on the students, while also allowing parents to be more engaged with their student’s learning while building strong relationships that help you and your fellow teachers ensure classroom success.
With the knowledge that more parents are eager to be involved and invested in their child in a way that allows them to grow and develop in a way that is most comfortable for the child, you can most likely expect to more questions, comments, and involvement from parents, and a great way to do that is to have them work with you and participate whenever they can! Whether that be field trips or in-class holiday celebrations, with everything you do, be sure to build a pod of parents, much like a pod of dolphins, to create a strong classroom community, and make learning a fun and engaging experience for both parents and students.