Parents Becoming Partners

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What can you do to develop a close positive relationship with your students’ parents?

Review parent conference approaches and teach parents how their child is progressing with online programs such as Lumos Learning.

In education quite often, getting the parents on board with a student’s learning can be difficult. Many parents had bad experiences themselves in schools and do not want to come for conferences, meetings or even their own child’s performances. Schools try many approaches. With state assessments and technology being added to students’ curriculum, the task becomes more problematic for teachers and administrators.
Parent conferences tend to put the parent and teacher on the spot. If the teacher compliments the parent’s child at the beginning of the conference, then gives areas of concerns and concludes with additional positive attributes, parents have what is termed, “the sandwich effect”. In this manner, parents listen to the good, then ignore any negative behavior and again are pleased with information at the end of the conference.

In an article by Joe Hirsch entitled, Framing Difficult Feedback for Parents, strategies are discussed to help overcome obstacles faced during conferences.

His approach is termed, “bundling.” Mr. Hirsch explains that the teacher needs to approach the conference with specifics regarding the student’s behavior. He cites examples of using the following technique.

Context: Where and when is the behavior happening?
Observations: What has happened?
Emotions: What feelings does this cause?
Value: Why does this matter?
Input: What can be done to achieve success?”

The article explains that by sharing the exact type of inappropriate behavior, how it is impacting the student and class, along with importance of positive classroom behavior, the teacher then gives the parent a partnership in helping to resolve the issues.

Mr. Hirsch does explain that the parent may deny and become defiant with this approach, but that if the teacher exhibits an air of calm during the conference, the outcome would be more beneficial. Parents want to be a part of their child’s life and know more about the child’s behavior outside of school that could be used to solve classroom disruptions. More detailed information can be found in his book,The Feedback Fix.

The next area of concern is lack of parent participation when parents are not attending meetings at school that could help them help prepare their child for success. Tips for increasing parent involvement include asking parents to show-off their talents by volunteering, holding meetings at times convenient for parents rather than times convenient for schools, and the best one by far is offering food and door prizes at every meeting.

However, when you GET the parents to the school, use the time wisely. Yes, offer them a reward for being there, but don’t stop with just a meeting or a program. Train them in what they need to know to help their child succeed. Technology can be frightening to many parents. Set up mini-computer labs, or sessions within classroom. Show parents the simplest way to use the computers or laptops. Put them at ease. Start with small sessions and have plenty of volunteers who are computer literate on hand to aid and support. Then show parents what the online program and assessments involve.

With state assessments being a priority, training parents on what is being tested and how the assessments are given is a must. With the online practice offered by Lumos Learning, parents have access to their child’s progress immediately. An excellent tool for schools is to train the parents on the program components, as well. This connection with parents increases parent participation and supports a more positive relationship between parent and teacher. The program can also be purchased by parents, if the school does not offer it. Lumos Learning, can be used at school or anywhere there is an internet connection. Students have opportunities to practice state assessment standards and lessons. Examples are given that mimic the state blueprints and offer remediation when needed. Engaging videos can be utilized for tutoring and reinforcement exercises. Reports are available to validate the teacher’s curriculum and show each child’s progress. Parents can access their child’s information and student reports through the Parent Portal or by using the SchoolUp mobile app. Installing the free SchoolUp on their mobile devices makes accessibility convenient and up to date regarding their child’s progress.

By connecting in this process, the teacher, parent and student become united in the learning.
These methods will increase parent involvement, thereby increasing student achievement and building strong relationships with stakeholders.


Bonnie McRae