Dedicated teachers strive to build strong relationships between themselves and the parents of their students. It is a matter of committing time and efforts to building that rapport and establishing an ongoing communication with parents throughout the school year.
According to an article first published on September 21, 2004 by Education Week, "When schools, families, and community groups work together to support learning, children tend to do better in school, stay in school longer, and like school more." This was the finding of a study conducted by SEDL, the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (http://www.sedl.org/about/). In addition to that study, many other studies have been conducted to understand the significance of engaging parents in the schools so that students have the best success in learning.
Many of the studies, like the study entitled Family, School, and Community Engagement, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education in 2010, have clearly discovered that the more parents are involved as a partner in the schools and an integral part of a team, the more improved student learning will be. In fact, this particular study states that “no longer should parent engagement be a goal…it should be a strategy”.
In knowing that research studies have proven this fact, it becomes very important that students who are preparing to be teachers commit to learning how to connect with parents. It is essential that during their field experiences, these education majors have opportunities to work with the cooperating teachers to learn how to engage the parents. It is also equally important that these potential teachers understand that working with parents is an ongoing process and does not end after parent-teacher conferences which can occur after the first grading period and/or prior to the beginning of the second semester.
New teachers need to understand that he/she can connect with parents. This connection occurs regardless of the fact that the new teacher may have just entered the first year of teaching. Whenever the first year teacher makes the extra efforts to get to know the parents of the students in the classroom and communicates consistently with them about their children, the experiences can be very rewarding.
It is when new teachers assume that all parents are combative and critical that the chances for a successful connection can be destroyed. There can be some parents who may not be as cooperative as others. The key for new teachers is to have conversations with the parents so that they can learn what might be the contributing factors to their negative beliefs. Building a trust with the students’ mother and/or father becomes a top priority and leads to a positive collaboration that will help students succeed.
There are a variety of resources available to new teachers regarding how to build solid relationships with parents of their students. A few of these can be found at these sites:
(U.S. Department of Education study related to Family, School, and Community Engagement)
(article regarding how to prioritize collaboration among the parents, school, and community)
(tips for new teachers regarding how to communicate with parents)
(tips for new teachers linked with parent connection)
(helpful tips on parent-teacher collaboration)
Donna Hupe teaches ED 101 – Field Experience I and has been a Pre-Student Teacher/Student Teacher Supervisor at Saint Vincent College for the past five and a half years.