I have been teaching English for 18 years now and I have been involved in a lot of extracurricular activities for more than 10 years. At first, I was not sure of their benefit and I was convinced that there were no real results. Then, I got the chance to organize different workshops in school and I saw the students’ enthusiasm and their eagerness to do something different.
Also, their parents were the ones who sent messages or visited me in school in order to discuss about these activities. They told me how enthusiastic they were when they say that their children could fill their free time doing constructive things, that they were spending their time too much glued to the computer screens or surfing the internet with no real purpose.
This kind of support was the one I needed in order to understand what impact extracurricular activities have on students and not only. And this is how our adventure started and how I managed to find my place in this area of activities. I started exploring topics and projects I knew would benefit both my evolution and my students’ needs on the short and long term. I was interested mainly in those activities which were focused on developing life skills and which also meant involvement from the parents’ side.
Every time I talk about my relationship with the parents of my students, I have only positive examples of adults who fully understood that our activities are successful when all participants are genuinely involved. Nobody needs students who have to hide from their families because they are not allowed to do anything else but study nor do we need parents’ reluctance when it comes to doing things in a different manner. So I believe it is up to us as teachers to open a dialogue with these adults and explain the benefits of their involvement. Some complain they do not have enough free time because of their busy schedules at work and other household responsibilities. Others are simply not interested in taking part in their children’s school lives. In my case, parents were the ones who asked things like: “When should we come?”, “What else do you need?”, “Can we help?”, “You are doing a lot, Miss. What can we do?” or “Can I bring other people with me, too?”.
They came to workshops on healthy living tips, they took part in parents’ meetings on bullying, internet safety and preparations for exams, they brought materials for different activities with recycled objects or healthy snacks, they made costumes and decorations for different occasions such as Christmas charity fair or our Easter charity actions.
Now that we are online, their support is even greater as they keep in touch with us and make sure their children do what they need to do in these circumstances.
Sometimes, it is frustrating as there are a lot of negative aspects of online school and it is more and more difficult to keep things going in a certain normal rhythm. But still, the open dialogue and the permanent collaboration between teachers and parents are those two most important aspects that determine the success of our educational scenarios. It is the partnership which should never disappear from the school environment and which should be more encouraged by the body of government and the management teams of the institutions.