What specific methods can schools use to involve parents in a positive way in their child’s education? – #Edchat topic for April 26, 2011.
Collaboration between parents and schools has proven to be difficult for a variety of reason’s over the years. As a private tutor, I have found that a student’s success is often related to the amount of involvement that a child’s parent takes in their schooling. The more active the parent, the more likely the child will succeed in school. Parental involvement; however, is not easy to accomplish. In order to increase parent involvement in the school setting our community and culture need to change.
At the High School level, it is extremely rare to have parent involvement for a variety of reason’s. And most of these reasons are cultural reasons. We have built a school culture that deters parent involvement. When a parent contacts a school, it is usually to address some negative aspect of schooling. Maybe a student is failing due to difficulties their having with a teacher or maybe issues that are arising with other students at the school. As a former teacher, I can say that I never got one phone call from a parent that was not positive in it’s tone. (I did have many parents tell me in person some rather flattering things, but that was because their student’s were struggling in several classes and tended to like mine.) As a teacher, this was highly discouraging. Why would I go out of my way to talk to parents when they are questioning my policies or trying to alter the way I do things? The culture that we have developed discourages parent involvement. When the administration or teachers deal with parents it is usually trying to address some problem the student is having. Our school culture has deterred the involvement of parents.
Society also has arole to play in the lack of parent involvement in our schools. Divorce rates are over 50% and more and more parents are working full time which leaves less time to be involved with their child’s education. American’s, compared to other major nations seem to undervalue the teaching profession more so than other countries. The events in Wisconsin and the discussions about decreasing pay for teachers is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the respect that teacher’s in our society receive. Education needs to be the main focus for our children if we are to continually thrive and move forward as a society.
How do we fix the problem of collaboration between schools and parents? We need to change our attitudes and beliefs about education from all sides of the spectrum. School’s need to be more willing to involve parents. Parent’s need to be more willing to get involved. Communities need to promote education at it’s most basic level. And our society needs to realize the importance of education and the vital role that it will play in making our country great.
As a teacher, I must admit that it was nerve racking contacting parents for any reason. If I did not bother to call them their was less of a risk that I would get into any sort of trouble by my administration and I would have more time to prepare lessons or grade papers. Their was really no incentive for me to contact parents from the school. However, I contacted parents anyways because I knew it’s value for the student’s in my classroom. One thing that every teacher should do throughout the course of the year is to talk to each child’s parents and let them know how much you value having them in your class. The only time parents receive calls from school, it’s to let them know that their child did something wrong. It’s no wonder that parents don’t get involved. As a teacher, you can help to get parents more involved by making positive phone calls home to parents. Recently, I wrote a blog post on Maggie Cary’s website, www.classroomtalk.com, outlining how I used to contact parents. You can find the article here: http://classroomtalk.com/?p=439.
The community as a whole needs to become involved in education. As parents, or community members I would encourage you to get involved with your local school(s) at least once a month. Student’s will appreciate it, you will develop a better understanding of the school structure and your presence will be more likely to encourage other’s to promote and assist in education as well.
As a society, we need to address the issues that are most important for our success. It is my firm belief that education is what will make this country and world a better place. Imagine if we spent the time, money and energy into education that we have devoted to military operations that, while be it arguable, a generally agreed are wars for oil. If we had focused that money on education our dependence on oil could have been eliminated. Teachers and schools are constantly questioned and blamed for the poor development of our children, but it is not our teachers. It is our focus. If our focus were on education, our school system would bypass every major country that is currently ahead of us in that field. The sad truth is that education is not a primary focus.
In order to increase parent involvement our schools, our community and our society need to make a concerted effort to make education and communication a priority. Communities and parents need to assist in the development of their local schools and take an active role in the lives of their c0mmunities children. Schools and teachers need to reach out to parents and business leaders to get them involved in their schools. By changing our culture, we can improve schools through parent involvement.