H4 – Honor family/community involvement in the learning process. Teacher candidates inform, involve, and collaborate with families/neighborhoods, and communities in each student’s educational process, including using information about student cultural identity, achievement and performance. This means that the teacher is making efforts and succeeding at communicating with parents, families, faculty and students outside of the classroom. To extend the learning process outside of the classroom, I am taking advantage of students access to technology. I have created and maintained a simple, yet content rich website (http://www.mrgermanis.com/precalculus/) which provides students with access to all class materials, handouts, notes, journal reflections and homework; all at their convenience. Additionally, through he online grading system, I regularly publish accurate records of students performance and comment when appropriate for reasons of student performance. Finally, I send email communication to some parents for students who standout in class as well as students who are struggling to make efforts towards classroom goals (i.e. they do not attempt homework which results in poor assessment performance).
All of these communication efforts provide resources for parents to assist in the students learning. Absent students are able to learn at home with a simple internet connection (even phone internet connections are sufficient). All classroom activities and links to those activities are published up-to one week early to provide advanced access. Additionally, parents and students can see upcoming assignments, test dates and quiz dates and the content of those assessments. Lines of communication are open and our teaching process is transparent to everyone involved. The administration can easily see what is happening daily in all of my classes by looking at our website. More communication is provided with parent emails, this alerts parents to actions to improve student performance in the class. Here is an example of an email sent to parents of students who are at risk for failing the course and steps to improving students performance:
I am writing to warn that low scores on the remaining assessments will likely result in a failing grade for the semester. Please consider
- Perform “test corrections” on Test 4.1—there are two opportunities tomorrow.
- Complete all homework.
- Work extra problems in areas of weakness.
- Come in for help on concepts that are still unclear.
- Prepare for the semester final exams. Optimize JR scores by writing full and complete responses.
- Track progress on Illuminate.
- Perform VERY WELL on the semester finals.
As always, all class information (activities, homework, content of tests, etc.) is on the class Website
– Mr. Germanis
By creating an open and public forum for sharing information about what happens in my classroom, I am learning to keep myself accountable for the work that happens within the classroom. Since parents, students, administrators and the community members can observe my lesson plans on my website, I am encouraged to prepare lessons more carefully and plan my instruction better. My website should make sense to someone who is not in my class and the classroom experience should enhance the learning. In communicating with parents, I have learned that they will only help with their students learning process if I provide specific tools to assist their student. My letter provides specific instructions for parents to help their student. I remind them of grades online, encourage parents to help their students prepare for assessments and help students make time to attend test correction sessions. One of the great joys I have is informing parents of the good things their students are doing. From these emails, I have experienced openness and have a chance to communicate with parents the good things their students are doing, the responses warm my heart and help me establish a positive communication with parents about their student.
Research shows (Degner, 2013; Henderson, 2002) that students are more successful if the parents become involved at home. There is also evidence that parents are unsure of how to help their students, the role of the teacher is to help parents prepare their student for success. By providing parents with tools to help, the parent and community involvement is helping the student achieve success.
While parent communication is important, I would like to be more active in reaching out to parents in different ways. Most of my communication has been to parents though email contact. As I move into a more diverse community of students, some parents may not be best at communicating through email and I will need to communicate through phone or in-person more frequently. Additionally, I would like to be more proactive in communicating MORE good things that are happening in the classroom, especially when students are performing well. Because I have experienced positive feedback from parents after good communication, I would like to attempt to do this more frequently to establish a positive relationship with parents.
Degner, K. M. (2013). Demography as Destiny: The Role of Parental Involvement and Mathematics Course Taking Patterns among 9th Grade Students. Current Issues in Education, 16(3).
Henderson, A., & Mapp, K. (2002). A New Wave of Evidence The Impact of School, Family, and Community Connections on Student Achievement Annual Synthesis 2002. Southwest Educational Development Laboratory, 2002.