There are several ways to delegate the responsibility of reporting daily activities, academic performance and behavior to the parents by the students. By making this one simple change in my classroom, it has made a world of difference. Students are working harder, there are less zeros in my grade book, everyone is acting better and taking ownership of their actions and attitudes. I’ve even had several parents thank me for keeping them in the loop about their child’s progress, or lack thereof.
I know from personal experience that parents want to know how each day goes with our child at school. I know the first thing I say to my children when I see them in the afternoon is:
MOM: “How was your day at school?”
Everyday, I get the same old dreaded response.
CHILD: “Ugh, fine, mom!”
MOM: “Did something happen or go wrong?”
CHILD: “No mom, nothing happened!” (as eyes roll)
MOM: “Well did you learn anything new today?”
And guess what, yes, that’s right.
CHILD: “No mom, it was the same as yesterday!”
And they go about their business to tend to something else.
Parents tend to not realize there is a problem until they get a progress report that is sent home with the student. Half the time, the progress reports never makes it out of my classroom. I feel that having the students contact their parents on weekly basis (if not daily basis) will also strengthen their relationship with each other. Middle school students are at the age where they tend to pull away from the parents. So these parents tend to have no clue as to what is going on in their child’s school life.
I wanted my students to take more ownership over their learning. They are incredibly creative human beings with endless talents. Why not tap into them as resources and make them do some of the planning, teaching, troubleshooting, assessing, and communicating with parents?
It is important for teachers and parents to have meaningful and regular communication with one another to ensure that the student is doing well both in school and outside of school. If the child is sick or perhaps dealing with a family issue, then parents can reach out to teachers to let them know that their student might be having an “off” day. Additionally, teachers can report back to parents on student behavior and academic progression in a timely manner.
New technologies have made communication between home and school more efficient, and improved in both quantity and quality. When parents and teachers communicate with one another, they are able to work towards their common goal of facilitating the best educational experience possible for students. Even though parents have access to our online grade book system and they can login at any time to view their child's grades, some parents just don’t do that.
So, whenever you feel overwhelmed by all you have to do as an educator communicating with parents and guardians, ask yourself how you can have your students do more of the work in your classroom? From that work will come real-world experience. We have to quit making things harder on ourselves. The technological tools are in our hands, so let’s have our students put it to use for their own good, and ours.