Dr. Michael Thompson and Dr. Rob Evans spent a day with the full faculty and staff during our orientation meetings to discuss how to best develop the school-family relationship – a relationship built on trust, transparency, and timely communication.
Dr. Thompson and Dr. Evans are both psychologists, former teachers, and longtime school consultants, and have worked with more than 700 independent schools, including Landon previously.
Assistant Head of School Charles Franklin explained that Landon chose their latest book, Hopes and Fears, as its summer faculty and staff reading book because “after 15 plus months of being physically apart as a community, we know how important it is for us to reconnect with boys, families, and alumni in the years ahead. As we do so, the opportunity to have world renown experts like Dr. Thompson and Dr. Evans come and work with all Landon faculty and staff about how we can best engage with families to support our boys was tremendously exciting.”
Dr. Thompson said their conversations with faculty and staff focused on helping teachers have effective conversations with parents to get to the heart of the matter and to minimize conflict. They call it asking about a parent’s hopes and fears, which includes active listening and asking questions to better understand a parent’s point of view.
“A Landon teacher wants to know [a parent’s] observations. A Landon teacher wants to know what they're hoping for, for their son and what they're worried about. We told the faculty ... when it comes to loving the boy, the parents are clearly the senior partner. But when it comes to educating the boy, the teachers are the senior partners,” he said.
Thompson and Evans also spoke about returning to school after such a challenging school year and amid a pandemic. “It’s perfectly understandable that parents after 18 months of this would be distressed … for example, they may feel convinced that their child had lost ground … or worried that their child had lost experiences. It's natural that you'd have concerns and worries,” Evans said.
Thompson added, though, that parents should “use your son as a consultant on his own life. The parent doesn't decide on his or her own what Landon means to their boy. The only person who knows what Landon means to their boy is their son himself. So, you ask your son, ‘how does it feel to be back at Landon this year? How does it feel to still have to be wearing a mask? How does that hit you? What do you feel?”
In addition to their new book Hopes and Fears, Dr. Thompson is the author of nine others, including Raising Cain and It’s a Boy, and Dr. Evans is the author of three others, including Seven Secrets of The Savvy School Leader.