If you want to hang out with parents who are totally committed to making education better for every child, don’t miss a middle school PTSA board meeting.
PTSA in middle school has a different feel than PTSA in elementary school. You’re not just hanging out with people from your neighborhood. You’ve sent your child to a large, comprehensive middle school and you’re only there for three years. Your clingy kindergartner has turned into a puzzling puddle of hormones who does not want you to show your face at school. There are three times as many kids and you don’t know their parents from all those elementary school soccer games. It’s easy for middle school parents to blow off PTSA and concentrate on going back to school or finally getting a job or increasing their work hours.
So the folks who show up at middle school PTSA board meetings are the real deal. They struggle to raise a budget and give it all to support the library and the sports teams and the music department and to buy supplies. They agonize over how to help the homeless kids and how to support the parents of the ELL students. They are the perfect people to talk to about the CCSS and the upcoming Smarter Balanced test because they are focused and tenacious and they know how to network.
It’s an honor to be the staff rep to our PTSA and our president was willing to give me fifteen minutes to share about the CCSS when we met in February. I wanted to use those minutes very carefully.
What did the PTSA board already know about the CCSS? The consensus was that they didn’t know much. I showed them the CCSS website and encouraged them to visit it. They all laughed at me when I admitted I was such a CCSS nerd that I had the very handy app on my phone.
I photocopied four of the sixth grade reading released items. They were distributed so that people sitting next to each other had different questions. Everyone read their reading selection, question, answer choices, and scoring guide silently. Then they told a person sitting next to them what they noticed. Finally we shared out with the whole group.
“Some of this is pretty hard.”
“It looks like answers with more details get a higher score.”
“How will this work when kids take it online?”
“These are the kind of things we want our kids to know how to do.”
Our principal answered a few questions about when the tests will start and what subjects are tested at each grade and then it was on to the rest of the agenda. Debriefing what went well with a recent fundraiser. Planning ways to support all our students for the spring science night. Brainstorming what we need to have a safer front parking lot.
About a dozen people – moms and dads, step-parents, a grandmother, community members. Just fifteen minutes learning about the CCSS, but when they packed to leave, many took their copies of the sample test questions with them. The word will spread.
Latest posts by Chris Gustafson (see all)
- What Do Teachers Wish Administrators Knew About TPEP? - June 11, 2016
- What Can You Learn About TPEP from Pinterest? - May 20, 2016
- TPEP – The Administrator’s Point of View - April 15, 2016