Parent-teacher action groups working with Project Respect in San Francisco came up with these notes on their experiences in school:
Parents say: I am an intelligent, confident person in my life. Why do I feel intimated when I visit my child’s school?
School staff could ask: What elements of interactions with parents could make them think and feel this way? How would you like a parent to feel after a conversation with you?
Parents say: I was helping out and I made a flyer for the school. I made an error in grammar and a teacher put it on the blackboard and corrected it in front of everyone.
School staff could ask: How do we demonstrate respect for parents? How will we know if parents experience our efforts and actions as respectful?
Parents say: When I have a meeting about my child, all we talk about are the problems. They say that if my child does not change now, his whole future will be messed up.
School staff could ask When a child is challenging, how can we talk about the problem without blame? If we paint negative pictures of a child’s future, what does that say to and about the family of that child?
Parents say: I am a young African-American woman and when I go to the school on days that I don’t work, I wear casual clothes. People look at me funny, they talk down to me, and they don’t take me seriously.
School staff could ask: What assumptions do we make based on appearance? How are these shaped by the person’s race, class, or gender? How do we want people to feel about coming to our school?
Parents say: I have a loud voice and I speak my mind. When I go to school I always feel like I have to “tone it down.” I can’t be expressive. I have to accommodate the teachers’ ways.
School staff could ask: Are there rules for how people should act in and around school? Who sets them?