Communication is Key

20 Apr

Regardless of whether or not homework is necessary, one aspect of it is essential: parent communication.  It is very hard for me at my current school to get parents to respond to me. I call and send home notes to parents with very little response.  Since I started in the middle of the school year, I attempted to hold conferences with every student’s parents.  Out of eighteen students, only five parents showed up to meet with me.

I asked other teacher to see if they were having the same problem.

 

According to these fellow teachers, most seemed to communicate with their students’ parents on a weekly basis.  I also communicate through daily agenda, but rarely hear back from the parents.

Lauren said, “I teach high school, and I had 3 parents out of 113 students show up for Open House! Most of my students’ parents don’t speak English. It is really ineffective to call home because we can’t understand each other.  I also asked parents to see how often they communicate with their child’s teacher.”

That’s a very tough predicament as not only are the parents not involved, but they couldn’t even if they wanted due to the language barrier.

 

I really liked some of the ideas that I heard from parents as well as teachers in their comments when I asked them how they know what their child’s homework is.

Wilma said, “I usually communicate verbally with his teacher or resource teacher at least on a weekly basis. He is in the third grade.”

I really like how involved she is with her son’s teachers.  In the school where I teach, there are several parents that I have never even met much less speak to on a regular basis.  It really depends a lot on the community and how active those parents are in their students’ education.

Kristen said, “My child’s teacher sends an email each week with the happenings in class and the upcoming tests.”

I think this is a great idea.  If my students’ parents used e-mail, I would definitely send weekly e-mails about the homework and events coming up.  As parents replied to all, questions could be answered to everyone all at once.

Holly, whose daughter is in high school, said, ” I have never met my children’s teachers. However, we correspond as needed via email. I can also monitor any assignments and grades through Jupiter Grades which gives me a good handle on how my child is doing in class and which (if any) subjects are missing assignments.”

I am all about the websites that keep up with your grade book online so that parents have access to the grades.  Once again, if my students’ parents used internet, I would absolutely use this method.  I actually set up an account, but then realized that no one was interacting with it.

 

From these results, we see that half of all the parents are informed of homework through a student planner.

My primary way of communicating with parents and guardians is through students’ agendas.  At the beginning of each school year, students get an agenda that has a weekly planner.  Every morning, I have the homework written on the board.

The first thing they do after sitting down is copy their homework into the agenda.  After their homework is completed at night, students are supposed to have their parents initial the agenda.  If I need to contact a parent, I will write a note.  Parents contact me in the same way.  This seems to be the best way to get in touch with parents as the majority of them do not have internet access and are working during school hours.

Our school also has a website where teachers can communicate with parents:

http://teacherweb.com/HI/KahaluuElementary/schoolhomepage/sdhp1.aspx

Unfortunately, since I did not start teaching until November, I didn’t get to create a website.   That’s fine though, because a lot of teachers said none of the parents ever used it anyway.  In a school where parents have internet access, I think that classroom websites and blogs would be an excellent way to keep parents in the loop on assignments and happenings within their child’s class.

Other good websites such as jupotergrades.com and mygradebook.com can keep parents up to date on grades as well as homework.

I have a younger brother who is in third grade and gets a weekly newsletter which informs parents of the upcoming homework assignments and events.  This is a great way to let parents know what to expect.  For instance, if a student is absent or if they no they have something going on one night, this allows for them to catch up or get ahead as necessary.  This could also be done through e-mail if parents are consistent in checking it.  That would be more eco friendly as well as ensure that the parent actually gets it and it doesn’t get left on the bus or in a locker.

With every school and type of parents being different, it is up to the teacher to determine the best form of communication.  Regardless of whether you have to handwrite notes home or you e-mail in the blink of an eye, parent communication must take place in order for homework to be effective.

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