The Loomis Chaffee community welcomed parents and friends to the Island this past Parents’ Weekend, taking place starting Friday, October 22nd. Guests were invited to participate in classes, meet with teachers, and join the Loomis community. Meanwhile, students and faculty members had an unusual experience, as they say more faces joining in on classes and walking around campus. We interviewed several teachers to get their perspective on the special weekend.
World History teacher Mr. Dial enjoyed Parents Weekend overall, but not without some reservations. “I have mixed emotions on the Parents Weekend,” he said, “I want to represent the class and give parents an insight into their children’s learning process. I hope that parents feel it is worthwhile to send their kids to Loomis Chaffee.” Mr. Dial also mentioned that he enjoys meeting students’ parents. “I feel so happy when parents come to me and say ‘my kid loves you’ or ‘my kid used to hate history, but now he likes it so much.’” In Saturday’s class, the World History students went over their reading about the history of China in the Ming Era. One of the biggest changes Mr. Dial made was to include two groups of participants—the Loomis students and their parents. Parents, who sat around the classroom, were divided into groups of two to discuss the visual source, a study material widely used in the World History class. Parents tried to determine the composition, time period, and usage of objects of the image in the visual source, while students proceeded with their reading. “I try to keep parents busy rather than letting them just sit there, so they can better understand how the students actually learn in our history class.” said Mr. Dial. During Saturday’s class, parents were actively engaged in discussion, and they came up with creative thoughts about the visual sources. However, Mr. Dial does not consider entertaining parents the main goal of classes. Teachers and students should choose the way that they feel most comfortable, rather than purposely showcasing their achievement.
Ms. Saxton, an English teacher who has experienced three Parents’ Weekends here at Loomis, says she appreciates the opportunity to meet with parents and match them up with students. She exclaimed that looking at interactions between students and parents provided her with a better understanding of her students. Even though she was a little bit nervous having parents sitting at the back row, she explains that they were so supportive and their excitement to experience the class atmosphere calmed her down. Ms. Saxton also remarked that she tried not to make any difference to her classes and put on the representation of the things students usually do. In class. she introduced engaging activities that could get students talking. Students, however, also try to step up their game before the parents come, as they tend to prepare extra well for class. In discussions, students who are usually quiet will talk more to impress their parents, while however, those who tend to talk frequently will sometimes become nervous. “It is always a mystery to see students’ performance on Parents’ Weekend.” said Ms. Saxton. Meanwhile, Ms. Saxton also experienced some tightness on schedule. She suggested that it would be much better to have more breathing room for advisor meetings. Moreover, when talking about her personal take away, Ms. Saxton mentioned some minor unexpected things that had gone wrong in some of her classes. “Leaning to roll with the punches and adapt to uncertainty are as important as preparation.” She is also grateful to the helpful Loomis students who do their best to adjust along with her and make the class go as smoothly as possible. Overall, parents weekend was a memorable experience for students, parents and faculty members.