Creating Parent Partnerships in the Classroom
Today’s blog post is a special guest blogpost by Starr Sackstein. This is the second post that Starr has featured on my blog and due to the high demand she has agreed to return with more amazing content. Enjoy this great read about creating parent partnerships.
42 minutes per day. Sometimes more if we’re lucky.
That’s the approximate amount of time I may experience any one particular child in my classroom.
Early in the year, working hard to develop relationships with each child is vital and when doing so, we must extend our reach to their homes. If we are committed to the success of each child, we are going to need the help of his/her parents or guardians.
As a high school teacher, there is a fine line drawn between helicopter parentsand teaching youngsters the necessary responsibility to be accountable for their own learning. It is incumbent upon adults to understand the need to offer students the first right of refusal on this obligation; students have the right to fail if they want and the lesson may be in allowing them to do so.
That doesn’t mean, however, that teachers and parents shouldn’t be communicating about the progress of all students as needed.
Here are some suggestions:
● Reach out to parents early in the year with the best way to be contacted – offer email, social media or phone number or all of the above. I like to send a welcome letter that outlines expectations as well as the syllabus and assignments for the year
● Be proactive in your expectations – keep them high AND well communicated. Don’t be afraid to repeat yourself and share information in multiple forms – (oral, written and other visual)
● If you maintain on online grade book (We use Skedula at our school), make parents aware of how to access it and keep it up to date
● Maintain a class blog or website with assignments or calendars to keep all parties informed
● Answer emails within 24 hours and always copy your supervisors on these correspondences. As much as we don’t want to think we need a paper trail, having one is in everyone’s interest
● Try to contact parents before anything bad happens early in the year. A positive phone call goes a long way to establishing good relationshipswith kids and parents
● When you have to make a call or write an email about some kind of infraction, make sure to lead with something positive. Be clear and to the point, not adding unnecessary extraneous details. Always request follow up if they have any questions
● Don’t change the rules or expectations without informing students and parents ahead of time. This will only cause problems for everyone
● If possible, maintain the same or similar policies as the teachers on your grade level team. Consistency helps everyone. (Specific policies that should be worked out have to do about grading systems, late work, attendance, revision, collaboration/group work and electronics)
● If possible keep homework to a minimum. Be really intentional in your choices
● Try not to judge kids based on other teachers’ experiences with them. Give every parent and child the benefit of the doubt in a new year and create your own relationships with both.
The success of every child is paramount to what we do. With close partnerships with parents, we are more likely to get all students to have more positive learning experiences.
What do you do to engage parents and students in their own learning?