Ok, I know, some of you are wondering what this post is doing here. Stick it out, and we will get there.
Parents. That one word can evoke a wide range of reactions from teachers. After this many years in education, I think I have seen and/or experienced all of the possible reactions. The key to a child being successful is a team effort. How can we foster that partnership with parents, and how does EdTech factor in?
Walk into a crowded library full of teachers and say these words, “There is a parent here to see you.” Don’t address it to anyone, just say it aloud, and watch the reactions. They will range from fear to pure joy. Unfortunately, all too often those who are happy to see parents are happy for the wrong reasons.
Let’s start out with those who are fearful. They are so afraid of parents because they have no relationship with them. They are afraid because they really have no clue as to why the parent is there.
Then there are those who are just blah about the whole parent thing. They act like the parent is intruding on their time. They feel the parent is just going to give a lot of lip service and be gone. There is some merit to what they think, at times. Much of that belief system can be changed radically if they functioned as a team with the parents. The parents know their children. They need to be a part of their education. These teachers alienate them by acting indifferent. Ever wonder why teachers get the reputation of not caring? These teachers are the ones to thank for that.
Then we have the ones who are overjoyed the parent is there. Now, you might think these are great teachers. These are the ones who are happy the parent is in the school. Unfortunately, this is usually the case for more nefarious reasons. Many of these teachers are simply happy the parent is there because they want to talk to them about “Little Johnny” and all the trouble he has caused. These teachers get joy out of Johnny getting in trouble. Ever hear teachers gloat that they told parents and Johnny got “his butt whooped”. Is it just me, or does something not seem wrong about gloating about getting a kid in trouble?
Then there are the few who are genuinely happy the parents are there. They work to get parents to come in. When they get there, talk tends to focus on strategies to help students, not hurt them. They help parents understand what is happening in the classroom, and what needs to happen at home. It’s never perfect, but it’s a team… and when we focus on students with a goal focus, as a team, we can achieve great things.
Now, how does technology factor into this? Think about it. Many times, parents can’t get to the school. It’s difficult to get to them as well sometimes. This is where modern technology lends itself to helping kids. We can use Google Classroom to keep parents informed. Perhaps even create a “class” of just parents so you can easily send notices out to them. You can foster discussions there as well, help them understand what is expected of their child.
Twitter. You can say a lot in 140 characters. This is one that I never really utilized until I had a great principal, Chris Chism, who said it was an expectation. I ran with it, and it pays dividends. Parents are easily able to get quick notes about what’s happening.
Google Hangouts. Parents often want a face to face meeting. Ideally, those are wonderful. But what about when the only time both parent and teacher are available is late at night? Try a Hangout. It’s becoming a great way to meet parents in the middle.
The point is this, parents MUST be a part of the instructional process. We, as educators, must foster that relationship. We have tools today that make it much easier to reach out to parents, to make them a part of their child’s education. Do us all a favor, though. If your only reason for ever reaching out is to get someone in trouble, do some reflecting.
As always, anyone who has questions about how to implement any of these ideas are welcome to ask, and we will do our best to help.