14 SES 06 A, COVID-19 and Challenges (1)
This study stands at the intersection of two fields of research and educational practice that have broadened in recent years: parental involvement in schools and processes of pedagogical change. Whereas both fields are gaining interest, little attention has been paid thus far—in practice and in research—to the conjunction of the two.
The literature on parental involvement describes issues such as parent-teacher communication, parental volunteering in social activities, connection with the broader community, and parents’ rights (Hornby & Blackwell, 2018; Stroetinga, Lereman, & Veugelers, 2019; Wilder 2014). The literature on processes of pedagogical change is broad, dealing in general with the paradigmatic transition that the education system must undergo in the 21st century. This literature describes innovative approaches to teaching, learning, and evaluation, and factors that impede or promote processes of change (Mishra, 2019; OECD, 2018), but it typically relates to the roles of the principal and the teachers in managing change (Ganon-Shilon & Schechter, 2019; Sales, Moliner, & Francisco Amat, 2017; Sergiovanni, 2015; Zohar & Agmon, 2018).
In contrast, the current study examines a case in which the parents display interest in being involved in pedagogical change. That is, besides being involved in the classic ways, such as volunteering and social activity, they are also involved in issues related to methods of teaching, learning, and evaluation. This involvement has been intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has given parents a new role in the learning process. In that context, this study explores collective parental involvement, as defined by Epstein et al. (2018), in which parents act collectively vis-à-vis the school and not only individually with regard to their own children.
Thus far, little is known about the impact of COVID-19 on parental involvement (Garbe, Ogurlu, Logan, & Cook, 2020; Sibieta & Cottel, 2020) and on school pedagogy (APA, 2020; Kuhfeld, Tarasawa, Johnson, Ruzek, & Lewis, 2020). However, broadly speaking, we can say that the pandemic has accelerated processes that began before the outbreak (Blass, 2020). As described in this paper, today more than ever before parents are involved in schools and in teachers’ pedagogy and they have become a significant factor in their children’s academic success. The transition to distance learning, along with the need for many parents to work from home, has exposed many parents, especially those with young children, to the classroom.
This study focuses on two elementary schools in Israel, in neighbouring localities that are different pedagogically: One has a conservative pedagogy (for example, frontal teaching and standard evaluation), whereas the other, from the start, adopted an innovative pedagogical approach in the spirit of 21st century learning skills, such as cross-disciplinary learning, personalized learning, and collaborative learning. The progressive school opened five years ago with only a first grade, and over the years added additional grades. The conservative school participated in a municipal initiative to promote educational change: a series of meetings for principals, teachers, and parents in all the elementary schools. In the meetings, academics and educators taught the participants about a wide range of topics related to pedagogic innovation such as advanced teaching methods, alternative evaluation, and digital pedagogy.
This study seeks to answer the following questions: (1) What is the meaning that parents of children in elementary school (in grades 3 to 6) ascribe to their involvement in processes of pedagogical change in their children’s schools? (2) Which characteristics of the school do the parents consider to be the most important for advancing or delaying the process of change? (3) How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected these issues?
The study is based on semi-structured in-depth interviews with 22 participants affiliated with two elementary schools in two neighboring local authorities, conducted in 2019–2021. The interviews were conducted in two rounds: the first one before the COVID-19 pandemic and the second one in early 2021, following the closure of schools and the transition to learning from home. I have called one (conservative) school Green and the other (progressive) one Blue. Seventeen of the interviewees were parents of children in the two schools, two were principals, two managed the education branches of the two localities, and one was an educator with expertise in managing pedagogical change in schools. The majority of the interviewees were university graduates. Seventeen were women and 5 were men. Their ages ranged between 30 and 45 years and their middle-class occupations included management, university teaching, law, graphic design, and high-tech. The two localities are in central Israel and the schools in both are part of Israel’s Jewish education system. The Green locality, governed by a regional council (Mo’etza Ezorit), is ranked 8 on a socioeconomic scale on which 10 is the highest, and the Blue city is ranked 6. The Green school is under the auspices of a regional council, which initiated a process of pedagogical innovation in all its elementary schools. To do so, the schools’ staff and representatives of the parents from each school participated in a lecture series by academics and educators about such issues as learning in the 21st century, innovative teaching methods, future-oriented pedagogy and related topics. The Blue school, situated in a low income-area, started with only the first grade and grew in subsequent years. From the very start, it had a vision of innovative and progressive pedagogy so that it attracts children from the entire town (that is, the parents choose to enrol their children in the school). Among its characteristics are cross-disciplinary learning, enhanced integration of the arts in the curriculum, and architecture that allows for study outside the classroom. In the interviews we asked questions such as: “What areas does the parents’ committee deal with?” and “What weight do pedagogical issues receive in the work of the parents’ committee?” Regarding the transition to distance learning, we sought to find out the effects of distance learning on parental involvement in learning and its impact on communication between parents and the school during this period.
The findings reveal that the parents in both schools are interested in influencing the school’s pedagogy, but that they do so in opposite directions: The parents at the conservative school are interested in promoting innovative learning, such as cross-disciplinary learning and personalized learning, whereas the parents in the innovative school are interested in reintroducing conservative practices, such as frontal teaching and standardized evaluation. These differences in parental action are related to two factors: (1) differences in the socioeconomic background and especially in the cultural capital of the parents and their attitude toward learning and education, and (2) the educational policy of the local authority in relation to competition and choice between schools. The current study points to the school’s need to clarify to the parents its pedagogical policy and the constraints within which it operates. The school’s management must mediate actively not only regarding issues that have traditionally been the focus of parent-school relations but also regarding current pedagogical topics. Since March 2020, most Israeli children have been studying at home most of the time, mainly online, and a significant proportion of parents have worked from home. During this period, the findings of the study have been validated further because the boundary between home and school has been greatly reduced. Parents have been more exposed to teaching methods, and their involvement in learning has increased sharply. Along with parents’ appreciation for the teacher's work, there is also parental criticism, for example, of teaching methods and study materials. Parents openly criticize the outdated methods of teaching and learning that must be adapted to a world that is changing before our eyes. Theoretically, the study suggests that the COVID-19 is a catalyst for shaping new parent-teacher relationships and will position school pedagogy as a central area in which parents will be involved.
American Psychological Association. (2020). 10 tips for assessing and monitoring students’ academic progress during COVID-19. https://www.apa.org/topics/covid-19/parenting-caregiving/academic-progress-covid-19.pdf Blass, N. (2020). Opportunities and risks to the education system in the time of the coronavirus: An Overview. Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel. https://taubcenter.org.il/opportunities-and-risks-to-the-education-system-in-the-time-of-the-coronavirus-an-overview-eng/ Epstein, J. L., Sanders, M. G., Sheldon, S. B., Simon, B. S., Salinas, K. C., Jansorn, N. R.,& Greenfeld, M. D. (2018). School, family, and community partnerships: Your handbook for action. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin. Ganon-Shilon, S., & Schechter, C. (2019). School principals’ sense-making of their leadership role during reform implementation. International Journal of Leadership in Education, 22(3), 279–300. https://doi.org/10.1080/13603124.2018.1450996 Garbe, A., Ogurlu, U., Logan, N., & Cook, P. (2020). Parents’ experiences with remote education during COVID-19 school closures. American Journal of Qualitative Research, 4(3), 45–65. https://doi.org/10.29333/ajqr/8471 Hornby, G., & Blackwell, I. (2018). Barriers to parental involvement in education: An update. Educational Review, 70(1), 109–119. https://doi.org/10.1080/00131911.2018.1388612 Kuhfeld, A., Tarasawa, B., Johnson, A., Ruzek. E., & Lewis, K. (2020). Learning during COVID-19: Initial findings on students’ reading and math achievement and growth. NWEA Research. https://www.nwea.org/content/uploads/2020/11/Collaborative-brief-Learning-during-COVID-19.NOV2020.pdf Mishra, P. (2019). Considering contextual knowledge: The TPACK Diagram gets an upgrade. Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, 35(2), 76–78. https://doi.org/10.1080/21532974.2019.1588611 OECD 2030. (2018). Directorate for Education and Skills Education Policy Committee: Future of education and skills 2030: Conceptual learning framework. (November). http://www.oecd.org/education/2030-project/contact/Meaningful_reconciliation_indigenous knowledges_flourishing_in_B.C.’s_K-12_education_system_for_the_betterment_of_all_students.pdf Sales, A., Moliner, L., & Francisco Amat, A. (2017). Collaborative professional development for distributed teacher leadership towards school change. School Leadership & Management, 37(3), 254–266. https://doi.org/10.1080/13632434.2016.1209176 Sergiovanni, T. J. (2015). Strengthening the heartbeat: Leading and learning together in schools. John Wiley & Sons. Sibieta, L., & Cottel, J. (2020). Education policy responses across the UK to the pandemic. Education Policy Institute, October. https://epi.org.uk/publications-and-research/education-responses-uk-pandemic/ Stroetinga, M., Leeman, Y., & Veugelers, W. (2019). Primary school teachers’ collaboration with parents on upbringing: A review of the empirical literature. Educational Review, 71(5), 650–667. Wilder, S. (2014). Effects of parental involvement on academic achievement: A meta-synthesis. Educational Review, 66(3), 377–397. https://doi.org/10.1080/00131911.2013.780009 Zohar, A., & Agmon, V. A. (2018). Raising test scores vs. teaching higher order thinking (HOT): Senior science teachers’ views on how several concurrent policies affect classroom practices. Research in Science & Technological Education, 36(2), 243–260. https://doi.org/10.1080/02635143.2017.1395332
Search the ECER Programme
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.