The Welcoming Classroom: Chapter One

Inside: Review of The Welcoming Classroom, Chapter 1

I just started reading this very interesting book, The Welcoming Classroom, by Johnna Darragh Ernst.

As you can see from the title, it’s all about building strong home / school connections.

Given the prevailing climate in BC right now (our province-wide teachers’ strike just ended) this book is very apropos. While it’s geared towards pre-school teachers, I’m finding there’s LOTS in here that’s applicable to elementary school.

I’m going to review Chapter 1 today and then continue with another chapter each week.

I hope you find this useful!

CHAPTER 1: Your Role in Engaging Families

The main premise in this chapter is all about building a strong foundation in terms of teacher / parent relationships.

The author outlines the reasons for adopting a strengths-based approach, rather than a deficit model.

By this she means, “Viewing families and children through a positive lens…” rather than a negative one.

For example, if you have a non-English speaking child in your room, instead of thinking, “This kid can’t speak English”, switch it around and think, “Wow! This child is making great strides at becoming a bilingual speaker.”

A simple practice, but one that has far-reaching effects; not only does it remove blame, but it shifts one’s thinking so that the strengths and talents of a child are highlighted, rather than the perceived shortcomings.

According to the author, it’s important to recognize and focus on each family’s unique strengths and provide support where needed. She suggests you ask yourself “What does this family need to develop and thrive?” rather than “What is this family missing?”

When this simple, but powerful shift in thinking occurs, it creates room for respect, reciprocity and support.

At the end of this chapter the author poses a series of questions. The one that stands out for me is:

“What are the family’s concerns, hopes, and plans [for their child]?”

Wouldn’t this make a GREAT question on a beginning-of-the-year “Let’s Get To Know Each Other” survey that many teachers send home?

I’d love to hear what YOU do to strengthen the home-school connection!

Disclaimer: Gryphon House gave me a complimentary copy of this book. The opinions I share are wholly mine.

You can find the other chapters of The Welcoming Classroom here.

If you’re interested in some other professional books I’ve posted about you can find them HERE.


10 thoughts on “The Welcoming Classroom: Chapter One”

  1. I have come to gut-level understand that the vast majority of parents do the very best for their children that they know how to do. Sometimes I have to revisit this understanding. It brings me to a better perspective and intention in connecting with families.


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