There are always the connections that must be made when a student is in need of academic or behavioral intervention. but professional knowledge and gut instinct insist that other contact not be left out in the cold. Family connections are another area that cannot be overlooked, despite the daily challenges that demand one's attention; in the heart of the school year, such relationships must also be nurtured.
Often, it feels like an extra effort amidst the whiz and fly-by of other obligations and the in-the-moment duties of being in the classroom. But it's an effort that, even as a first year teacher, I believe calls for as much responsibility as any other, and one where investment will likely reap rewards for all involved. Just one piece in the importance of addressing the whole child - the family-school collaborative effort. To be honest, I did not know there was an official set of national standards until very recently!
I tried the website (basic) this year, but in all honesty I think a handful of parents (if that) check in regularly for messages, updates to the homework calendar, and access to digital resources. Unfortunate, but perhaps with better promotion, this will be more heavily accessed another year. A particular avenue may or may not take with a particular set of families in a given year. I have a couple of routines that I follow regularly - Friday folders with work assessed and room for comments ,and monthly written progress reports that require a signature. But so far, this has been the extent. I have a couple of room parents who helped out during our Christmas festivities. There have been times where I've come across a couple of interesting project idea or resources, where I've sent out e-mails to parents. Still, I feel this is not enough.
So, back to the drawing board. When I made calls to parents in the beginning of the year (a wise move that I'll use again in coming years), I had a parent ask if I planned on having parents in the classroom and getting them involved (something that supposedly had been 'promised' in previous years, but not followed up on). I replied that yes, those were my intentions. Until a few days ago, I had not made any moves to make that a reality. Realizing that parent involvement can vary depending on school culture and teacher comfort level, I realized I had to take a chance in order to uncover my own feelings on the matter.
In philosophy, I believe a healthy level of involvement - where parents give of their time to help support current learning initiatives in the classroom - is more pro than con. So, last week I sent the e-mail to this particular parent, asking if she'd like to come in once a week during the afternoons to help facilitate our science investigations. Her reply was, how about every other week? Even the ones who want to get involved generally have lives of their own, so perhaps over-involvement is sometimes made larger than life in what can be the over-anxious mind of the teacher - a fear of losing some sense of autonomy - doubtless, a valuable commodity.
A small step in working collaboratively and reaching out to parents who want to be involved. This distinction, those parents who want to be involved and those less inclined, is another real consideration. A separate challenge is finding ways and reaching out to parents who need to be more involved, or who are silent and perhaps not sure how to best become involved, in their children's school roles and routines. An idea over which I intend to ponder and explore in the next few weeks. Ideas out there in teacherdom?