Friday, 5 May 2017

Reviewing the Research and Sharing Stories: Parent Conversations

"I really appreciated the opportunity to get to know so many parents," says Mary Gauthier,
Executive Director of the Greenwood Centre for Teaching and Learning and the facilitator
of our Parent Conversations.

Adolescence can be a very challenging time for both teens and their parents. Keeping up with the latest research is one way parents can navigate the thorny issues that arise during this time; sharing their stories with other parents is another.

Mary Gauthier, Executive Director of the Greenwood Centre for Teaching and Learning, began hosting “Parent Conversations” at Greenwood this year with these two goals in mind. Parent Conversations provide an opportunity to talk about the world outside the school, as well as current research that can help all parents better understand their children.

These conversations also encourage parents to share thoughts and ideas with each other. In fact, some of the most valuable insights to come out of these sessions came from parents - whether it was from a book they read, an article they reviewed or an experience they had with their own children. That’s why these sessions were conversations and not seminars - parents have much to contribute!

Mary has loved facilitating these conversations. “I really appreciated the opportunity to get to know so many parents, and it was wonderful that parents could take the time to join us,” she says. “Seeing how engaged parents were in the sessions highlighted the importance of continuing to provide opportunities like this.”

Some topics raised during these conversations also yielded follow-up opportunities for future sessions. For example, several parents were interested in learning more about teens’ use of technology - including social media and online games - and how they can help their children to manage that usage.


What did parents talk about?


Some of the most valuable insights to come out of these sessions came from parents.


Conversation topics this year included:


Click on the links above for summaries of the first two conversations. Read on for a summary of the year’s last conversations on “Teens and Finding Purpose,” held on April 24 and May 1.

Teens and Finding Purpose


There are three main ingredients that go into creating purpose:

  • A need
  • A skill
  • A love/passion

After learning about this framework, parents shared examples of when their child has been especially purposeful. This may have been in school (e.g. preparing for an upcoming evaluation) or outside of school (e.g. training for a big ski race). In every example, a need, a skill and a love or passion were present. In the studying example:

  • The need was performing well on the evaluation
  • The skill was anything from writing skills to study skills to research skills
  • The love was an affinity for the subject being studied

Parents then identified situations where they felt their child had lacked purpose - in these cases, one of these elements was usually missing. 

An “aha” moment for many parents involved discovering what purpose is not. We often attach our own adult definition to this concept and think of purpose as knowing what career we want to pursue, or what to study at university or college. For teens, finding purpose could mean deciding which courses to take in high school next year or what their summer plans are. As long as they combine a need, a skill and a passion, these decisions are purposeful.

Over 20 parents contributed to a very lively and engaging discussion of purpose at these sessions. Thank you to everyone who joined us!

Resources


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