Sometimes the smallest acts can have the biggest impact.
At the beginning of the school year, my daughter’s teacher called all parents of her students to check in and introduce herself. For me, it was a two minute phone call. I told her all the little things that I would want someone teaching my child to know about her: the parent’s perspective. When I hung up I felt so grateful that, in those few moments, I had the chance to share what was important to me about my child and her education.
The most important part of the communication, to me, was that the teacher did not spend any time, other than introducing herself, informing me about the class or plans for the school year but rather she asked questions. What should I know about your daughter? Does she like to read? Are there any issues or family changes that I should know about? Because she cared enough to ask these questions, I knew that if I had any concerns over the course of the school year, I could contact her and we could work together. (It helps that this wonderful teacher keeps the conversation going by sending home a weekly e-mail with the subject “Dinner Topics!” The e-mail contains questions parents can ask at home relating to class activities from the week, allowing for a family chat about learning.)
Most teachers have learned over time that developing a positive connection with home, with our students’ first teachers the parents, is worth much more than the time it takes. By establishing that positive first contact, the teacher opens up the possibility for further important communication over the school year. Teachers write letters, send out e-mail updates, make “sunshine calls” (and the often necessary, less sunny calls), set up classroom blog spaces and find other opportunities during the school year to establish the vital home-school connection.
LEARN wants to connect to parents too. I was invited to speak to parents at a local high school a few weeks ago about LEARN’s resources for students. With our free online tutoring program, SOS LEARN, starting next week (shameless plug!), the school was interested in having parents know more. After spending an hour taking parents on a tour of the LEARN site, and highlighting some of the resources that teachers use but parents might not be aware of, I turned the tables.
“Now, I want some information from you,” I said. “I have shown you what I think may be useful to you, but tell me what else you would like to see.”
I knew from the questions that the parents had during the presentation, there were some very specific interests related to their children: special needs, students heading to CEGEP, enrichment. I gave parents a short survey to complete to help us as we plan to improve the parents section of the LEARN site.
Here are the three questions I posed:
1 – How can LEARN support you?
2 – What would you like to see on the LEARN site?
3 – What are some things you would like us to highlight from your community?
Most of our regular blog readers are educators and many, like me, are parents too. It would be great to connect with you and hear about what you, as parents, would like to see on the LEARN site.
From the point of view of educator, what ways have you communicated with parents that has established a meaningful home-school connection?
Consider this my two minute check-in call.
On the topic:
4 ways We Can Connect to Parents http://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/3273
Did I mention that SOS LEARN, free online evening tutoring with real live teachers, starts on October 22 and students can register now?
Principal – Online Learning