Building a Collaborative Environment Between Home & School

Instructor: Deborah Schell

Deborah teaches college Accounting and has a master's degree in Educational Technology.

Students are more successful when parents are involved in the education process. In this lesson, you will learn how to involve parents in their child's high school math education.

Why Is a Collaborative Environment between Home and School Important?

Let's meet Ms. Sum who just landed her first assignment teaching grades 9 and 10 math. She is eager to implement some of the strategies she learned in teacher's college about connecting parents to the classroom, but Ms. Sum isn't sure where to start. Let's see if we can help her with this predicament.

Collaboration is the process of working together to create something or achieve a goal, and education is a collaborative process involving students, teachers, parents, and the school community. Students come to a high school class with their own strengths, opportunities for improvement, work habits, and home lives. Parents are the best source of this information, and teachers must find ways to gather this information and work with parents to ensure the success of each student.

Strategies to Create a Collaborate Environment between Home and School

Teachers can use a number of strategies to enhance the link between the classroom and home. Let's examine some of these strategies in more detail.

Information Sheets at the Start of the Term

Teachers can provide information on the course overview, teacher contact information, and course structure to help parents feel more connected to what is going on the classroom. Teachers can also incorporate a section for parents to complete so they can gather information on items that the teacher should know about such as student work habits, parent preference for contact (e.g. email address), and any other information the parent thinks is relevant for the teacher to have.

Weekly Emails

Due to their growing independence, high school students are often less likely to discuss their school day with their parents. This can leave parents feeling disconnected about what their child is learning and how they are doing in school. Teachers can bridge this gap by providing weekly emails to parents.

Ms. Sum could start with a generic email outlining what students learned in the classroom that week, information about upcoming tests and quizzes, and other important information about school. Even though this is a generic email, Ms. Sum could still personalize it by thanking the parents of each student for their active involvement in their child's education. Parents may appreciate the personal touch, and it may enhance parent involvement.

Phone Calls

We know that it's necessary to call home when there is a problem in the classroom, but have you ever considered calling home to relay positive information to parents? Parents are accustomed to receiving bad news, but they really appreciate hearing something good about their child's progress. The feedback does not need to be sent weekly, but aiming for a few phone calls with each parent per semester is a great goal. For example, Ms. Sum could communicate a great student performance on a test, noticeable improvement with a particular topic, or a student showing an interest in a topic by asking questions. There are plenty of opportunities to catch students doing something good!

Welcome Parents into the School and the Classroom

While there aren't many opportunities for parents to volunteer in a high school classroom, that doesn't mean that parents can't meet with teachers. Organizing family nights to bring parents into the classroom is a great way to make parents feel welcome. For example, Ms. Sum's school could organize a 'Meet the Teacher' night at the start of each semester to encourage parents to meet the teacher and gather more information about what their student will learn during the upcoming school year as well as the methods of communication used by the teacher. It's always easier when you can put a face to a name, and it encourages more parents to reach out to the teacher during the semester if needed.

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