Parents being part of a classroom under the Open Doors programme at the Gems Kindergarten Starters, Dubai.
Dubai - At the Gems Kindergarten Starters, parents have become the new school supervisors thanks to a forward-thinking initiative spring-boarded by its Principal, Asha Alexander.
One school in Dubai has quite literally opened its doors to parents in a bid to prove that transparency promotes quality in education.
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At the Gems Kindergarten Starters, parents have become the new school supervisors thanks to a forward-thinking initiative spring-boarded by its Principal, Asha Alexander.
'Open Doors' is Alexander's attempt at bringing parents closer to the school.
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It allows parents to sit in on classroom learning to get an understanding of what their child is actually being taught in school.
Since launching in May this year, 1,547 parents have visited at least one 40 minute lesson. And Alexander told Khaleej Times that "100 parents visit the school to observe classes" every day.
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Each parent has either given a written feedback, emailed their comments or given a video response to the lesson too.
But how did the concept come about?
"I went to Italy to look at their learning approach for Kindergarten. They were so welcoming of parents, and the community was supportive. That's when I said 'what are we afraid of, let's open the doors and do this'," Alexander said.
In her opinion, the only way you can "raise your standards" is by "listening to ideas and suggestions".
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With 100 more eyes and ears listening to the teacher every day, she said it is a win-win situation for students, parents and teachers alike as it promotes "education crafters".
And Sukwinder Singh Bassi, Senior Vice-President of Gems schools said the same.
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"When our parents work and understand what we do in schools, it accelerates the child's growth immensely. This initiative is a no-brainer and will be rolled out across all 26 of our schools."
What is Open Doors?
Open Doors is an attempt by the school to bring parents closer to the classroom. It allows parents to sit in the classroom to get an understanding of what and how their child is actually being taught in school.
Open Doors impact:
> Improved lessons by teachers
> Greater confidence in the staff
> Clearing misconceptions parents had about teaching strategies
> A bond of trust between parents and the teacher has developed
> Parent suggestions and concerns are addressed promptly
What parents say:
My motto is 'seeing is believing' and with Open Doors we really are seeing what the children are doing in class. The engagement is fantastic. What I would like to see is more opportunities for field trips. Young children learn best through visuals so if they visit more places they will become more engaged. I'd like to see field trips happening once a month."
Sadia Khan, mother of KG2 student
The openness is great. I have seen this school and my children grow from strength to strength; allowing parents to actively come forward with suggestions for additional learning techniques is fantastic. The teachers are moving away from traditional teaching and becoming facilitators."
Kubra Wajid, mother of Grade 4 and 5 students
My children have been here for six months and it was great to attend Open Doors and see the children using their digital devices for things other than play. They are learning new techniques for learning and that fascinated me."
Zeba Khan, mother of Grade 2 and 4 students
'You said, we did'Suggestion -A parent suggested the school acquires a light dimmer option in the classroom instead of switching lights on/off which can be distracting
Action Taken - The school is in the process of acquiring a Learnometer created by Professor Stephen Heppell to to monitor not only light but humidity, temperature and carbon dioxide levels, all of which impact learning.
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Suggestion - One parent said we need to encourage the less-vocal children to speak up in class
Action taken - Less than a week following the suggestion from a parent rep, the school implemented the 'Show and Tell' approach in the classroom
Suggestion - During one classroom observation, a parent noticed a carpet in the room. Although it was clean, she felt it was a cause for spreading illness in schools
Action taken - After the school vacation, the parent was taken back to the same class and was told that the carpets had been removed from the school.