It’s no secret that I’m passionate about home/school communication.
- I complete a Daily Shoot blog post every day and email it out to parents.
- I update our class blog at least once a week, and add a newsletter every month (to give an overview of the month).
- I usually call parents every week to touch base, answer questions, and share important information.
- I invite all parents into the classroom every Friday afternoon from 2:45-3:05 to share in our learning (read more about this here).
- I talk to parents every morning when they drop their children off at school, and again, at night when they pick them up.
- Minus our new Friday classroom visits, these home/school connections are ones that I’ve maintained for my 14 years in teaching (across various grades from JK-Grade 6).
I don’t do these things because I’ve felt obligated to do so. I communicate with parents because I enjoy making these connections, and I believe that ultimately, they benefit students. I will never forget in the Faculty of Education when my Methods Professor said, “Parents give us the best that they have.” For parents, they really want what’s best for their child, and they know their child best. Talking to parents has helped me learn more about the children I teach and how I can help them the most. Not all parents want or need the same type of communication, and this is why I think various methods matter.
Our Positive School Climate/Parent and Student Engagement Consultant, Aaron Puley, helped me further think about parent engagement at one of our last speaking sessions. He mentioned that not all parents want to connect in the same way, so now I ask parents what they want. Many parents want me to phone them, but not all do. Most parents like emails, but some prefer paper copies of notes. Almost all parents like the quick opportunities to touch base in the morning or after school, but some would prefer a longer time to connect when it’s not quite so busy. I try to listen to what everyone wants, and I try to follow through. This often results in positive interactions with parents, and I think this matters.
And while I do strongly believe in the benefits of teachers connecting with parents, I also think that home/school connections can include students connecting with their parents. I thought of this more today when reading this blog post by a wonderful teacher and great friend, Jo-Ann Corbin-Harper. When reading Jo-Ann’s post, I can’t help but think about why parents might want to hear more from teachers. My guess is that they want to know how their child is doing and they want to be able to support their child more at home. Does this information need to come from teachers? Not necessarily. Students can tell parents how they’re doing. They can explain what they’re learning in class. They can even indicate their goals/next steps, so that parents can further support them at home. This doesn’t mean that teachers should never communicate with parents, but I wonder if this means that home/school connections can mean more than parent/teacher connections.
Self-reflection is so valuable for students of all ages. For my Grade 1’s, I think of the number of times that I’ve recorded these reflections in podcasts and videos, and I hope as the year goes on, more can be written down. Maybe the question prompts on the Daily Shoot Blog Posts allow for my young learners to extend learning at home: making a home/school connection that may have started with the teacher, but can then continue with the child. Yes, I still want to continue connecting with parents, but now I’m thinking about how students can connect with them more. How do you communicate with parents? What role do your students play in home/school communication? For any parents reading this post, what would be your ideal home/school communication system, and why? I’d love to hear your thoughts as I continue to reflect on home/school connections!
Aviva, what a fabulous post!
Thanks Heidi! Glad you liked it! I’m definitely passionate about this topic, but reading Jo-Ann’s post and thinking more about it, I wonder what role students can play in this communication.