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A Second Classroom

Parent-Teacher Relationships in a Waldorf School

March 2014
More details
  • Publisher
  • Published
    19th March 2014
  • ISBN 9781621480631
  • Language English
  • Pages 252 pp.
  • Size 6" x 9"

What does a healthy, successful school look like? Is it all about measurable outcomes, test scores, and pass/fail grades set by the government? Can learning be quantified in short-term measurements or does real learning take years to manifest in a career or biography? All seem to agree that a healthy school is also a community and that community depends on the quality of relationships—chiefly the relationships among students, teachers, and parents.

This book features a comprehensive examination of the parent–teacher relationship in all its dimensions, from parent evenings and conferences to communication, conflict, and the life cycle of parent involvement in their school.

In between the chapters on practical advice are sections that consider the issues from a deeper, spiritual dimension. This book is intended to stimulate conversation, self-reflection, and relational practices that awaken community life in and around our schools.

“Finser's style is warm, knowledgeable and sometimes provocative. He freely weaves his personal experiences with those of others. It's a disarming style that invites you in, and like a true friend, asks you to think about what you're doing. Into this mix, he also weaves aspects of Anthroposophy that will appeal to teacher and parent. Whether it's about Family Constellations, Spiritual Streams or the Problem of Evil, Finser presents it in a down-to-earth and, at the same time, inspiring way.

“Who would like this book or find it useful and inspiring? Highly recommended for any parent or teacher in a Waldorf school, as well as anyone interested in Waldorf education. It's a wonderful guide to accompany you and your friends on the road ahead.” —David Kennedy, Waldorf Today

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“The world of parent–teacher relations has grown more complex over the years and at its worst can feel like a minefield. Torin de-mines and demystifies the experience with information, insights, stories, and warmth, creating a safe passage for teachers and parents.” —Joan Almon, Waldorf educator and cofounder of Alliance for Childhood

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“Readers of my books will appreciate Torin’s approach to parent–teacher relations. He looks at the key issues through various lenses and gives both practical and spiritual advice to all who seek to build healthy relationships around our school-age children. I highly recommend this new book!” —Thomas Moore, bestselling author of Care of the Soul

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“What Torin has so sensitively crafted here will give you greater simplicity and spaciousness in school community life. I highly recommend this book to all parents and teachers, but especially to those connected to Waldorf schools.” —Kim John Payne, M.Ed., author of Simplicity Parenting and Beyond Winning

• • • •

“This book is a call for parents and teachers to work more effectively together on behalf of our children. Torin uses a variety of approaches to stimulate conversation and help us strengthen the communities around our schools. I highly recommend this provocative book!” —David Sobel, author of Place-Based Education: Connecting Classrooms and Communities

C O N T E N T S:


1. Words of Advice
 — For the Beginning Teacher
 — For the New Parent
2. Self-less-ness
3. In Your Face
4. The Inner Dimensions of Thinking, Feeling, Willing
5. Barriers
6. Relationships and Martin Buber
7. Hard-to-Handle Parents
8. The Third Space
9. Hammershus
10. At the Foundation
11. Communication
12. Conflict
13. Shards of Glass: When Ideals are Shattered
14. Dance of the Shadows
15. Why Parent Organizations Are So Difficult to Sustain
16. The Life Cycle of Parent Involvement in a School
17. The Problem of Evil
18. The Veteran Teacher
19. Round Churches
20. The Importance of Administration
21. Family of Origin as Basis for Social Interactions
22. Parent–Teacher Conferences
23. Parent–Teacher Conferences as Reverse Ritual
24. The Uber-volunteer
25. Beyond
26. Parent Evenings, Class Nights
27. Mothers and Fathers
28. Spiritual Streams
29. Waldorphans
30. Inclusion
31. An Extension of Consciousness
32. Survey Results
33. The Door

Parent–teacher Survey: Letter to Parents and Teachers
Student Experience
Nine Levels of Escalation
Reading the Face
Roadblocks to Listening
Why on Earth?
Core Principles of Waldorf Education

Torin M. Finser

Torin M. Finser received his PhD in educational leadership from Union Graduate School, his MA in education from Adelphi University, and his BA from Bowdoin College. He taught at the Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School, where he also served as faculty chairman. He has done extensive consulting with schools in organizational dynamics and leadership development and has been a keynote speaker at conferences around the world.

Dr. Finser is the author of numerous books, beginning with School as a Journey (1995), which has been translated into Mandarin, Farsi, Thai, Arabic, Korean, and Spanish. Torin has served as General Secretary of the Anthroposophical Society in America and Chair of the Education Department at Antioch University New England, and is currently Director of Waldorf Programs.

A founder of the Center for Anthroposophy, he has recently pioneered their new Building Bridges Program for practicing teachers in independent and charter schools and Explorations for Waldorf parents. Educational History PhD, Union Graduate School, 1994 Educational Leadership with emphasis on Teacher Stress/Renewal MA, Adelphi University, 1978 Education BA, Bowdoin College, 1977 Double major in history and German Literature. Graduated in three years, summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa. Waldorf, 1960–1974 Student at three Waldorf Schools: Rudolf Steiner School in NYC Green Meadow Waldorf School, NY, Freie Waldorf Schule in Krefeld, Germany.

Torin is married to Karine, has six children, and is also now a very happy grandfather!