Help Parents Feel More Like Partners
Have you ever felt like you and your student’s families are at odds with each other?
There are seasons when the dynamics of teachers and families feel very adversarial. Maybe a family is frustrated that their child’s teacher is unable to give one-on-one attention every day. Perhaps a teacher is frustrated that a student’s family comes across as uncommunicative or unwilling to contribute.
It can be hard for teachers and families to get on the same page, but students need to know both families and teachers are on the same team: theirs.
How can you make parents become partners with you in their student’s education journey?
Ways You Can Help Parents Feel More Like Partners
Explain Learning Standards
It is important to explain the learning goals in easy-to-understand language and not “edspeak.” We all need to have the same understanding of what mastery of a standard looks like. That way, we can discuss the student’s work and compare it to the expectations.
You may want to explain how to interpret standards at Back to School night or during conferences. It may be beneficial to include core target standards in your newsletter.
You might also have a lot of parents asking why teaching methods have changed. After all, the old way was good enough for them in school, right?
We should help parents understand why students are learning new methods and how it will benefit them. You may need to explain new strategies to parents as well, as they feel frustrated when they don’t understand what students need to do and why they are learning it that way.
Ensuring that everyone is on the same page when it comes to standards will make parents feel more like partners.
Teach Parents How To Interpret Assessments
Parents (heck, all of us) need help understanding the differences between formative, summative, and standardized assessments.
If your student’s families understand how to check for misunderstandings in formative assessments, they could review concepts at home (without your prompting) before the class reaches the summative assessment.
Here’s the truth: research shows stress impacts our ability to reason. If parents punish students for poor test scores, it may increase students’ difficulty in passing assessments. For the most part, parents mean well, but we all know that not every failing grade deserves a punishment. When parents have a better understanding of what the assessments indicate, students could receive more support at home.
Give Families Specific Methods To Try At Home
Teachers can help parents by giving them specific methods to use at home. I always tried to do this based on what I felt the class needed at the time. You can add this piece of advice in your classroom newsletter or on your class website.
For example, if students are learning a specific method in math that is “new,” explain how to use it to your families in the newsletter. That way, they can refer to it when their students needs help.
Ask Parents What They Need
The best way to show parents that you want to be on their team is to simply ask them what they need.
Some good opportunities to ask parents are via a note on your newsletter, an online survey you can send, or personally during parent conferences. I think what is most important is that you make it clear to parents that you want their children to succeed.
Do you have questions on how to make your students’ parents partners? Do you have any other ideas?
Let me know!