by Jose Gonzalez

While I was on the SLT at Highbridge Green School (a middle school), I helped lead the creation of a collaborative curriculum project that was a joint venture between some teachers and parents. Always looking for ways to engage parents and increase their roles in their children’s educations, I teamed up with a teacher, Anna Staab, who was also interested in that type of collaboration.

Our parent community is largely made up of immigrants, so when I found out that Anna’s next unit included a study of the book, “Dragon Wings” — about an eight-year-old who immigrates to the U.S. from China — I realized this could provide an excellent opportunity to involve parents in the curriculum. Anna, along with some of her fellow teachers, collaborated with a group of seven parents to jointly design the “Dragon Wings” study unit. (We first drew parents in by bringing a group straight from our PA meeting to the English Department meeting that was going on in the building at the same time.) The study unit involved interviews of parents and community members, essays comparing interviewees’ perspectives on immigration with those in “Dragon Wings,” a Saturday subway trip to Chinatown (for which several teachers voluntarily joined parents and children), and a fair where the children and adults learned many of each other’s stories.

Everyone involved thought this collaboration was a great success — parents and teachers were able to create a more enriching educational experience than either would have alone; parents, students and teachers all came to know each other better, and are looking forward to greater collaboration in the future.