Adapted from the publication; The Parent Coordinator’s Manual
Congratulations! You are a parent coordinator, one of the most important careers in education. In your role as parent coordinator you will wear many different hats; “social worker”, “administrator”, “liaison”, “cheerleader”, “friend”, “counselor”, “ambassador”, “presenter”, “salesperson”, “problem prevention expert”, “event planner”, “advocate”, “mediator”, “customer service representative” and “scholar”. You are an integral and vital part of your school and community; you have the power within your position to bridge gaps and build cohesive, long lasting family and school partnerships. The most important “hat” you will wear as parent coordinator is that of being a leader. You are in a leadership role and with this role comes much responsibility. But even the best leaders can become overwhelmed and suffer from stress on the job.
Numerous studies show that job stress is far and away the major source of stress for American adults and that it has escalated progressively over the past few decades.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports the following:
- 40% of workers reported their job was very or extremely stressful
- 25% view their job as the number one stressor in their lives
- Job stress is more strongly associated with health complaints than financial or family problems
So what does stress look like for the parent coordinator? Listed below are nine irreversible and damaging triggers or actions that are a result of stress and pressure experienced by even the best of parent coordinators. Please try to avoid the following:
1. Being defensive – accept your roles and responsibilities willingly and with a positive attitude
2. Blaming others – be genuine and quick to admit your mistakes, ask for help and forgiveness and make the situation right
3. Going for the quick fix – success takes time, talent, persistence, hard work and dedication, after all – “Rome wasn’t built in a day!”
4. Demanding uncritical allegiance – allow all stakeholders to have a voice and an opinion, embrace diversity and cultural differences
5. Ignoring suggestions for improvement – quality improvement is something you practice with others, there is always room for improvement and growth
6. Insisting everything be an immediate priority – make a to do list, prioritize the list, and work efficiently and effectively towards completing each task, usually poor planning constitutes a crisis and an urgency for everything to become a priority…plan wisely
7. Keeping your vision a secret – your mission and vision for a superior family engagement program should be well communicated with all stakeholders
8. Becoming incapable of delegating responsibility- remember you are only one person and you need help, rely on the talents of others to assist with your roles and responsibilities
9. Being rude, abrupt, and insulting – you are a good will ambassador and the customer service representative for your school and/or district, there is no room for negativity, bad manners and uncivilized behavior
As the parent coordinator, you will need to learn to recognize these harmful triggers and actions and attempt to reduce stress from your daily work environment. This job is not for the faint hearted! Below are five tips for dealing with stressful situations as the parent coordinator.
Recognize when you’re becoming stressed. Your body will let you know if you’re stressed on the job. Are your muscles or your stomach tight and/or sore? Are your hands clenched? Is your breath shallow? Are you “forgetting” to breathe? These are all signs that you might be stressed.
Take a moment to calm down before making any final decisions.
- Bring your senses to the rescue and quickly manage stress by taking a few deep breaths, clenching and relaxing muscles, turning on some calming music, getting a cup of coffee, or recalling a soothing, sensory-rich image, for example, the beach or your favorite vacation spot. The best way to rapidly and reliably relieve stress is through the senses; sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell.
- Look for humor in the situation. When used appropriately, humor is a great way to relieve stress. When you or those around you start taking things too seriously, find a way to lighten the mood by sharing a joke or amusing story. Be sensitive to cultural differences and never use crude or derogatory humor, be professional!
- Be willing to compromise. Sometimes, if you can bend a little, you’ll be able to find a happy middle ground that reduces the stress levels for everyone concerned.
- The ability to manage your stress level while performing all of your duties and responsibility as the parent coordinator is critical to your effectiveness, personal health and overall attitude toward ensuring a successful family engagement program at your school or district. Find your inner strength, rely on close colleagues, friends and family for support and maintain a healthy lifestyle to manage your stress and perfect your craft. Your passion for engaging, equipping and empowering parents should always be your focus, never stress!
Need to relieve stress? Register for the 2018 National Family Engagement Summit! Thursday, March 22, 2018 we will host the extremely funny and delightful comedian; Gail Burns! Join us for a night of laughs and stress relief! For more information visit our official Summit website at www.nfesummit.com