The best part of teaching is that each new year is a clean slate and then each subsequent day is another opportunity to foster success in a plethora of ways. And as we start this new year, like this new draft, we must approach it like it will be our best.
As our second draft is undergoing revision within the first week of school, we must invite peer evaluators to invest in our burgeoning story because the culture of learning in our space depends upon our at-home support system.
Too often, parents are used to being left out of the equation or worse, only being called in when something goes terribly wrong.
Imagine only asking for help after your computer lost your document; although that is an important time to elicit urgent help, if you would have asked sooner, the likelihood of it ever getting deleted would be greatly diminished.
And this is how it is with parents too.
When we engage them in our learning environment and keep them abreast of what is happening in their child’s academic journey, the more they will be able to contribute in a useful and positive way.
Here are some tips for getting parents on board:
Send a welcome letter via email or through the mail that invites them into the new year. Allow this letter to introduce you and share some expectations as well as ways they can contact you.
Begin a dialogue with parents right away about what learning means in your classroom and welcome their questions.
Share your contact information and the best way they can reach out to you - include all class websites and blogs, and social media handles where applicable
Encourage them to get involved
Make a phone call home to each student by the end of the first week, sharing something positive that happened. For high school and middle school teachers, it may be easier to email those parents who use it.
Keep an open mind about every child in your space regardless of stories you’ve heard in the past. We need to make sure all children are given an equal chance to be successful. Parents don’t want any undo bias being placed on their children.
Remind all parents and students that learning isn’t about justice, every child will get what he or she needs and not an ounce less.
Transparency is key, so always do as you say and say as you do. If you have access to an online “grade book”, make sure parents can see what is going on in their child’s journey.
Always start interactions with parents with a positive attitude while still being honest about the call. Their child is the most personal thing in their lives and they may be guarded. Be sensitive to their needs.
Keep records of all parent contact and interaction for your own records as you get to know them better. Make notations for what works well for each of them.
Make sure students know when you are calling home, especially for good stuff. Phone calls should never be a surprise or a punishment.
As the school year persists, parent involvement in your students’ learning will be paramount. Developing strong relationships early, will help the community throughout the year. Invest the time gathering their support and feedback, always making sure to consider what they say as you revise. It may generate ill will if you parents don’t feel heard, so if they share their ideas value them.
What will you do to get parents involved this year? How will their involvement foster a culture of learning in your class?
The opinions expressed in Work in Progress are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.