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Managing Alpha Parents

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by carolanna28, Sep 24, 2020.

  1. carolanna28

    carolanna28 New commenter

    I have been working in the International school sector for over 28 years, and in management for over 18 years. During my career I have worked in UK, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Kuwait, Bahrain, Denmark, China and Singapore.

    The majority of International schools around the world are fee paying schools, and the parents of these schools have very high expectations. In the majority of these schools is a very diverse, cultural community of families from all over the world. In management in schools it is having the ability to understand people from different cultures and engage with them effectively. Strong cultural awareness and respect, and the capacity to act appropriately based on the context of any given situation.

    In some of these International schools the majority of the students are local to the country and often learning is part or all of the curriculum in English as their second language. The parent body can be predominately made up of local nationals and minority expatriates.

    Parents in these schools have high expectations and expect unrealistic results in a very short time. My experience of working and communicating with parents can be very demanding and the majority of your time can be spent with parents.

    Over the last 15 years we have seen a significant increase of a parents on social media, creating their own little chat groups, What’s App, Wei Chat etc. These groups always have an “Alpha Parent”. How do we monitor the social media posts and group chats? Your Marketing Manager should be filtering all social media posts and report to management.

    The majority of parents are often led by a minority of misinformed parents. The “Alpha” parent tends to lead the pack and the rest listen and follow. This “Alpha” parent can be more influential than others.

    I have found over the years when communicating with parents especially PTA it is essential to build a strong relationship with the “Alpha Parent/Parents”, this will allow you to build further relationships with the rest of the school community.

    When you have built up a positive relationship and communication with the “Alpha” parent, this can be very positive for the school community. It is equally important that in the beginning of this relationship that boundaries are set. Once the guidelines and boundaries have been set both parties should be able to collaborate and work together.

    There are some Leaders in International Schools have had various issues with “Alpha” parents, one area where it can be a problem is the language barriers, misunderstanding due to language communication, or cultural differences. This can create a negative impact on the school community, so it is very important that School Leader/Heads of school get to know the school community as soon as they arrive, understand the school culture and build their relationships, and connections with the parents as quickly as possible.

    Carol Pedersen

    Executive Principal
  2. Lakes1975

    Lakes1975 New commenter

    I recognise the situation but I'm unclear about what you're asking in terms of help and advice.

    Do you need to monitor these chats amongst parents? What purpose would it usefully serve? Surely that's just creating more stress and worry?
  3. scienceteachasghost

    scienceteachasghost Lead commenter

    Alphas can be annoying in non school situations. But remember the Bible says that the meek shall inherit the Earth.
    katykook likes this.

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