My name is Mrs. Iha Hayer and I am the Byrne Creek Community Room main blogger. A little about me: I have been an educator for the past 15 years and I love my career! I have been very fortunate to have worked in diverse communities throughout the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Quebec and the country of Bermuda. Currently, I am the Community School Coordinator at Byrne Creek Secondary School in Burnaby, British Columbia.
Byrne Creek is a vibrant and dynamic learning community. Over sixty-seven languages are spoken inside the school building, and our youth originate from over seventy different countries. At Byrne Creek our intention is to honour and involve the many cultures, languages, and religions present in our community. The school has become a multicultural hub and exemplar of how people from many different countries come to Byrne Creek, and learn to live and thrive together as British Columbians and as proud new Canadians. I plan to use examples from Byrne Creek and enlist the help of my parents, teachers and students to answer your questions.
Mr. Nick Noorani, Canada’s leading Immigrant Champion, asked me to discuss some of the ways that new Canadians or visiting parents can more seamlessly adapt to the Canadian School System. Todays topic: What are the ways that parents participate in student learning in the Canadian System? This will be our focus for the next few “What Can You Expect in a Canadian School?” posts.
It is really important to remember that the ways, as well as the amount of parent involvement toward children’s education, differs greatly between countries and cultures. This fact can create misunderstandings and frustrations if not understood. For example, I have learned from many of our parents at Byrne Creek that in many countries and cultures parents expect the school to be primarily responsible for their youth’s education.
In Canada, however, the subtle yet significant difference is that parents, and in some cases grandparents, as well as educators are seen as partners in the journey each youth takes through the educational system. The schools, therefore, have an expectation that parents will be teammates, involved in their child’s education. For example, parents are expected to communicate regularly with teachers, attending PAC, volunteering at in the school, and assisting their child in completing homework or enrichment projects, to name just a few.
Let’s look at what these expectations look like for parents.
Communicating regularly with the school can be done in a variety of ways. You will want to know what your child is learning, how they are doing meeting these goals and how you can help them to be successful. You might e-mail, communicate through a teacher website, phone, and make an appointment to come to the school. One opportunity I suggest is that you do not miss is “Meet the Teacher Night” at your school. Attending “Meet the Teacher Night” is a great way to learn about your child’s school but, could be difficult for some parents for a host of reasons. All parents’ ideas and attendance at these important nights are highly valued! At Byrne Creek we are able to engage translators if needed. Please do not allow language barriers to stop you from attending a “Meet the Teacher Night” or communicating with your child’s teacher or teachers! Find a way to make it work! Bring a friend or your child to translate. Meetings during “Meet the Teacher Night” are usually just 15 minutes with each teacher. Teachers want to meet you to make sure that a two-way communication is established.
Another meeting that I would like to suggest you attend is PAC. What is PAC? The purpose of PAC (the Parent Advisory Counsel) is for parents to have the opportunity to hear about the schools goals, issues, etc. This is also the forum for parents to share their opinions or volunteer their expertise in the multilayered educational tapestry of their school. Attending PAC allows parents to learn from the school leadership team about both the school, and also about the BC educational system. In BC our new BC Education Plan will bring many additional changes to our education system over the coming years. We at Byrne Creek often discuss these possible changes at our PAC meetings. For example, at our April meeting, Principal David Rawnsley led discussion groups to help inform parents his School Growth Plan for the following school year. This Plan will shape the focus of the school’s approach to education over the following school year. Our principal greatly values input and approval by parents in each year’s School Growth Plan. Not all PAC meetings are the same! But most have the underlying goal to inform and create a space for parents to meet each other and be a partner in governing overall school business. At Byrne Creek we have a list of presenters and topics that lead each month’s meeting. For example: “Scholarship Night”, “Children and Internet Safety”, and “Supporting Children Who Are Anxious About School”.
What questions do you have about our introductory post? I would love to hear your questions!