As teachers, we work hard to get our students on board with what we’re doing in class.
We try our best to relate everything to their lives in the real world. We help them to see the big picture. We praise them when they succeed and encourage them when they stumble.
But if the students are the only ones we’re getting on board, we’re still missing half of the equations.
The other half? Parents. (Or grandparents or guardians or whomever the main caretakers are.)
In my own experience in the classroom (and in yours too, I’ll bet), we have an uphill battle if parents aren’t convinced of what we’re doing in the classroom. (Or if they’re not convinced of the value of education in the first place.)
I’ve seen kids torn between what the teacher tells them is important in class and what the parents are saying at home. Both sides usually think they have the students’ best interest at heart.
And when push comes to shove, who will students side with — their parents or the teacher?
Let’s try to avoid that confrontation all together.
Instead, what if we can get the parents on board, too? What would it look like if we had them as advocates at home, cheering their children’s progress and supporting our shared academic goals for their kid?
Many of the parents that like the idea of homework do so because it helps them feel involved in their children’s education.
They say that the assignments their children work on at home help them relate to their lives at school. They say that it helps them feel involved and active in the education of their children.
Sending worksheets home is a rotten way to help parents feel involved.
It’s a topic that we spend a whole chapter on in our book — how to get parents involved, keep lines of communication open and find ways for them to support learning at home.
It all starts with buy-in. How can we align the vision of parents and teacher so they’re both on the same team — rooting for shared goals for the child?
Alice and I share some ideas for having those initial conversations with parents to help them to buy in to what you think is best for students.
In this example, we’ll use eliminating homework as the conversation. But the framework of the conversation can work with many parent/teacher topics.
Of course, this won’t work with every single parent. Some parents will have concerns that you won’t be able to allay. Some parents just won’t want to talk to you or will be impossible to reach.
But I think you’ll find that the net gain for your efforts will be worth the time and effort. You’ll find that your day-to-day work will be easier and met with less resistance if you have a key ally in place in sync with your message at home — parents.
There are LOTS of ways to reach the goal of shared vision with parents. If you’ve had experience with this and have some advice or ideas, I’d love to see them in the comments below.
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