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Strategies for Working with Families of Students

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  • 0:04 Working with Families
  • 1:27 Strategies
  • 3:04 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Josh Corbat

Josh has taught Earth Science and Physical Science at the High School level and holds a Master of Education degree from UNC-Chapel Hill.

From the first day of school, it becomes clear that each student enters the classroom with a unique worldview, generally instilled in them by their family. In this lesson, we'll discuss some general strategies for bringing students' families into the educational conversation.

Working with Families

Your patience is coming to an abrupt end. A particular student has been a challenge since the school year started, and it seems there is no way to get through to him or her. You have tried reasoning, rewarding good behavior, various intervention strategies, but nothing seems to positively affect his or her behavior. You are blowing off steam in the teacher's lounge, and you mention this student to a teacher who taught him or her last year. They ask if you know about their family situation. You don't. You realize quickly that if you knew more about this student, you may be able to reach him or her more effectively.

When working with students, understanding their unique story helps to reach them on a level much deeper than if you just considered their personality inside the classroom. One way you can do this effectively is by taking the time to personally work with the families of your students. This can obviously be a lengthy task, but it is worth it in the long run. Families, especially parents, that have a direct relationship with their child's teacher generally become more interested in the student's education. This can, in turn, increase the student's overall academic performance.

Studies show a positive correlation between increased parent involvement in the educational process and student achievement. In other words, the more parents are involved with their child's education, the better the child will do. As educational professionals, it is our job to do whatever it takes to increase that level of family engagement.

Strategies

Naturally, challenges arise when trying to connect with the families of each of your students. There are too few hours in the day to connect on a meaningful level when you teach as many students as many teachers do. There are some strategies, though, that can help move you in the right direction.

First, it is important to have some form of direct communication with families that is not personal. This can be a photocopied letter sent home occasionally, an email update every week or month, or even a blog or website that will help families be more connected to their child's education. It is important to establish this communication early, so parents and other family members will become familiar with it and use it throughout the year.

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