Ok, in my ten years, I have found that there has to be a balance between parents and teachers. I think it is like a marriage. The best example I can come up with is that sometimes you take the credit, sometimes you let your husband think it was his idea, and sometimes it really was his idea. It is similar with parents. These are their children, their world, and they just want to be involved. On that note, I like to give them some of the power at home, some knowledge into our daily studies, and help them communicate with their child about school each day.
I consider it my personal responsibility to reduce the "nothings" of the world. That age old response children give their parents to "what did you do in school today?" is like a stab in the heart. All my planning and preparing resulted in a NOTHING? REALLY?? So, as a result, I have used many communication tools in the past to give the parents a jumping off point if you will. Ones that have stuck are ClassDojo.com, Remind.com text messaging, a weekly reflection form, and weekly or twice a week emails with my DDQ (Dinner Discussion Question).
Class Dojo is a behavior monitoring online tool that parents can access at home. It has provided great insight to parents. Children have told me their parents ask them about specific behaviors at night, and I LOVE IT! It also helps me remember specifics about a child's behavior each week. They also have a new messaging tool,which I haven't used but am looking into.
Remind.com is a parent/ teacher text messaging app that I use to remind parents of upcoming quizzes, give questions related to what we are studying for them to talk about it at home, and then have their child answer the next day, or give hints to bonus questions or upcoming assignments.
My weekly reflection form allows a student to think about their behavior and goal for that week and write about how they did. I then collect them, write a comment at the bottom, and send them home. Parents also have a section that they can respond and send back if they would like.
Finally, the emails are another way in which I try to promote, build, and strengthen the home and school connection through communication between the parents and children. I will send home 1-2 emails a week with reminders of upcoming evens or quizzes, to wish a child happy birthday that day, preview what we will be doing, and give little glimpses into what we did that day. At the end of the emails, I will often put a DDQ, or Dinner Discussion Question, for parents to ask their students. The DDQ has proven to be successful, relative to the hectic lives of these families. On any given day, when I ask the class who talked about this or that related to the DDQ, I have consistently gotten about 25% of the students to raise their hands, and it isn't always the same 25% which is great! The hope is that the parents can then build on that information they are getting from their child each day to spur conversations in the future.
All in all, I find that parent involvement promotes success and confidence in the students. It also shows the parents that I am confident in my abilities and want them to know what I am doing with their child 6-7 hours a day.
Live! is one more communication tool I will be implementing and writing about soon!