I was recently meeting with one of my student’s parents, who also happens to be fantastic teacher in our school. She mentioned something to me and it became a big “aha” to me. She said,”you know many of us parents, really don’t know how to help our students at home. We were never taught to think or explain. When we went to school we learned facts and then retold those facts. As a parent I just want to know that what I do at home is okay.” To me this meant that, “I want to be validated as a parent, that I matter!”
This really struck me because I always thought that I really tried to communicate this to my parents. To me parents are just as much an integral part of student success and I never wanted them to feel let out. This got me thinking even more about what else I could do in the classroom besides tell parents they are valued.
1) This year for my math homework I have tried to explain the rationale of why I chose those particular problems. The hope is that it will help parents feel more comfortable with the concepts and what I am look for in an answer. Almost sending the co-constructed materials without the rubric.
2) Interview form to the parents: at the beginning if the school year I sent home with the students a interview form asking them to tell me about their student. What do they do well, what are their next steps, what expectations do they have for me? This (at least to me) allowed my parents a voice into the classroom.
3) Open door policy: I have an open door policy. This means that at anytime my parents, other teachers, or anyone really can come into the classroom. I really try to make my classroom as transparent as possible. If I want my parents involved in my teaching and ‘buy in’ then they need to see it in action.
4) Tons of communication: I know that as teachers we lead very busy lives. We also, though some may not think it, have a life outside of the classroom but I have found that the more communication you have the happier parents are. This year I have implemented a class site, for messages, calendar, home works and assignments, a wiki site to host videos, work samples and allow parents to comment and class blogging. I know that there are ways to make this easier but I have found a really positive response to this.
I know that these may not be anything new or revolutionary but thought I would share them and possibly make you think about what you do to make your parents feel a part of the learning.