Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Engaging the Parent

Last Thursday and Friday were parent teacher conferences. If you are a high school teacher you honestly know what that means. The best image I can give you is to think about a ghost town with tumbleweeds blowing across the classroom. It means, no one comes. There are a few parents that stroll in but usually they are here for another reason or they are the ones who have the kids that really aren't a problem and get good grades. I wondered why we as parents just stop coming.

In the elementary, everyone is at the conferences. You park yourself in the little tiny seats outside your child's classroom waiting for your assigned time and you pray that you only hear good things and that the teacher doesn't ask you if there is anything they should be aware of that would be causing an issue in school.

As a mom I have been to my fair share of conferences, every year from Kindergarten through 5th grade. Once my daughter hit middle school, something happened and I stopped going. I don't know why really. I suppose because she had all A's and I knew she wasn't behavior issue so why go and take up the teachers time. I am not sure that is everyone's reason for slowly disappearing from the realm of the parent teacher conference night, but that was mine. I don't want to be that parent that shows up and the teachers think "why is she here?" or "she is only coming to hear how great her kid is" and then part of me thinks, I wonder if they think I don't care? It is kind of a catch 22 as a parent.

So my question is, how do we as educators get our parents more involved in what their children are doing without the parent/ teacher conferences? Our school offers short awareness nights on topics such as Internet or online grading. The most recent is one on prescription drug awareness. I know as a teacher I send home emails to parents on their kids, just letting them know I enjoy having them in class, or something I would like them to work on more. Many teachers have websites and blogs such as this one, that talk about the daily comings and goings in their rooms. We even have online grading and parents have access to their students assignments and grades on a daily basis. By doing that, I wonder if we give them all the info they need so they don't feel like they have to contact us. I think about myself. What would or will get me into the school as the parent of a high school student next year. I guess I will find out.

If you have any ideas, shout them out here!

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