Coinciding with the new season, Spanish schools are also putting themselves in spring mode and they offer their best face, opening their doors wide, with the aim of welcoming and receiving families, students and even neighborhood residents interested in learning more about them. An initiative with which to bring closer the work carried out by both the management teams of educational centers and their teachers, administrative staff, monitors… and solve all those doubts or queries of those who visit them. The schools seek to expand their community, presenting their educational proposals to parents of children who are not enrolled there, and who are exploring educational projects in which to educate their children during their formative stage.
Juan de Dios Fernández Gálvez, school counselor and associate professor at the University of Granada (UGR), explains that educational centers are part of society and work for it; therefore, open days are a democratic act of transparency and participation. “Assistance to this type of celebration by fathers and mothers, in addition to being a right, is a necessity: they have to know where, with whom and why they leave their son or daughter for several years at school. It is necessary to know to choose responsibly ”, he affirms. In the case of the students, he says, it is a process of approximation, of preparation for change, part of the transit and reception process. “And for teachers it is an act of self-affirmation in their practice, of making themselves known and, on some occasions, part of the recruiting process for enrollment.”
“Generally, the open days are organized by the management teams, with greater or lesser participation from the teaching staff and, rarely, with the participation of the AMPA”, continues the UGR associate professor. The purpose of the organizers is usually to make the center known, either during the enrollment period or at the beginning of the course to welcome new students and their families. With this activity, “families hope to feel safe, close, learn about the way the center works and lives. At the end of the day, the means of communication between the different members of the educational community must be clear. Families have to leave with less anxiety in the face of the change in their children’s lives, feeling part of it”, affirms Fernández Gálvez.
In the development of this type of act, what value do the management teams have in their celebration and what should they transmit to the families? For the teacher Juan Bueno Jiménez, also a training advisor for the CEP Marbella-Coín and vice president of the Tartessos Pedagogical Society, the open day should build a story with a happy ending: “The best possible education for your children”.
In relation to the participation of families in this type of conference, the response is usually varied. “It depends a lot on the culture of participation of the center and of the parents; whether they are isolated acts, are systematized each year or are part of a more complex intervention. They are more effective, accepted and participated in if they are part of a Transit and Reception Program or systematic collaborative work, even at the curricular level (projects, interactive groups, extracurricular activities…)”, adds Fernández.
For Bueno Jiménez, the presence of families in this type of event lies somewhere between curiosity about the center and the revelation of their concerns and prejudices. “It is a complete learning process, a colossal challenge, in which the interest in a good educational center for the family converge, within the framework of its possibilities, resources and circumstances, and the impressions that are taken with the visit”, he maintains. this school counselor. “Something that forces, without a doubt,” he continues, “to question some ideas prior to the conference.”
From her experience in this type of performance, Ana Hernández Revuelta, head of studies at IES Julio Verne in Leganés (Community of Madrid), considers that the open day at the center is a perfect moment to establish the first contact between teachers. , families and students: “And it must be carefully designed so that families and students feel comfortable and welcome and, above all, that they experience that they are part of the center from the moment they enter.” That is why she believes that it is important that they can ask whatever they want with complete confidence: “We will have the responsibility for the education of their sons and daughters in our hands and it is essential to lay the foundations of mutual trust.”
The celebration of these conferences at the Jules Verne takes place in two parts. “A first part, in which both families and future students have a meeting with the management team of the center and with those responsible for all the projects that are developed in it, to talk about how we work in our institute,” says Hernández. Subsequently, this head of studies continues, several teachers carry out a series of activities with the students that have been previously designed by different departments: “Finally, the families get to know the center’s facilities, the classrooms and talk to the management team, among others”.
In the development of this open house party by the schools, it is convenient, according to Bueno Jiménez, to be honest and very transparent, but without underestimating some milestones, some goals achieved, however small they may be: “It is a party that must be celebrated in community. There will already be occasions to exercise a critical spirit as an essential element to strengthen the institution”. “In a day of this type, it is not acceptable to show too many edges, only the essential ones so as not to lead to erroneous interpretations of the educational project of the center,” he adds.
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