Parents in the Classroom 2

I have written about this subject in the past but find myself coming back to it. There have been numerous posts floating around that surely do not help ease the potential tensions between teachers and parents. I felt compelled to share something new I am trying this year that directly relates to building relationships with parents. My goal this year is to bring more parents into the classroom and make them truly feel as if they are a part of the learning journey their children are on.

As a parent to a preschooler and kindergartner my perspective of parents has changed. In the past I honestly viewed them simply as people I had to talk to 2-3 times a year at parent night and our two conference nights. As a parent myself, I see the immense flaw in that thinking. I want to be involved in any way I can with my son’s learning. That is not to say I want to be a “helicopter” parent hovering and putting my hand in everything. However, I do want the opportunity to feel like I am some part of the process rather than just a bystander.

With those thoughts in mind, I am starting a “parents in the classroom” initiative this year. I will create times where parents can come into my classroom and partake in learning activities with their child. Credit for this idea is certainly not mine as many already do this. I regularly attend such days with my own children in their classrooms which is what inspired me to do the same. The students I teach are 6th graders and parents are certainly not used to such opportunities as they are not the norm. My first such day will be this coming week where parents will be mummifying bodies and building pyramids with their children in class. When I first sent the invite out to parents it was met with a mixture of surprise and relief. Many parents replied with their delight that a junior high teacher would invite parents into the classroom and relished the chance to take even a relatively small role in classroom activities.

I firmly believe that building relationships is key to success in so many facets of teaching. In order to truly be successful with a student, you first need a relationship. By bringing parents in to the classroom and telling them I value their involvement, I am hoping to build those relationships with them. My hope is to have these days at least once a month where the parents get to come in, learn with their child, and possibly embarrass them a bit as well… J


Kelly Faulkner said...

i think that's a great idea. as an american parent, i'll never forget what it was like to take my little girl to school, which was fully fenced and all concrete. parents were made to stay at the gate (on any day). lots of tears from kids and parents. it was clear we were not welcome at school unless we were fundraising for the pta or otherwise providing money.

when we moved to new zealand, i was very impressed with the difference: no real fence, landscaping all round, and parents are welcomed into the school and you can stay as long as you like. i stopped homeschooling my child and spent time at her new school, helping out with reading groups, art projects, and the like (maybe an hour a couple times a week).

because schools are considered part of the community (and governed by a local "board of trustees"), our relationship with parents is completely different. as teachers we are encouraged to make personal connections with our students. not that we don't have our problems! but the culture and feel of school is much, much more welcoming. i commend you on reaching out to your parents and making them a part of their kids' school lives. it may have the effect of calming some "helicopter" parents and you may have less headaches.

Anonymous said...

rI also think this is an excellent idea. Teaching is all about making better relationships with your students and parents. Creating relationships makes classroom management easier, which enhances student learning.

I am wondering about one thing though: what about the students that have parents who are working all the time, or have parents that don't want to be involved? Will these students feel uncomfortable or embarrassed when their parents aren't involved?

Gail Ray said...

What a great idea, thanks for sharing it. I think it's so important for parents to be learning partners with their children. It very often helps each participant to see the other in a different light. I will share this post with my student teachers.