I feel a pang of annoyance. Parent follow-up every day? I wonder if I should feel insulted by a lack of trust. And doesn’t that parent know I have 25 other students to monitor? And what if all of their parents requested the same level of communication?
Sadly, such was my attitude when I first started teaching whenever a parent asked for more frequent communication on their child.
Fortunately, over time, I started to recognize just how important it is for parents to have a better window into their children’s learning–not just because of the fact that they have entrusted them to my care for 7 hours a day, but also because I came to grasp just how really terrible grades are at conveying meaningful learning.
Student-led conferences helped me take one of the first leaps forward in creating that window. The student ownership, the authentic conversations, and the overall sense of meaning facilitated unprecedented parent/student/teacher communication. (the link above will take you to that process, along with a lot of pdf resources)!
Student blogging came next in furthering the communication cause. I knew I wanted my students to be able to showcase their learning journeys in ways their parents could more easily access. The students loved commenting on one another’s blog posts, but the real joy came as parents started leaving responses, too–words of encouragement, support, and love.
Now that I’m away from my classroom, I have time to reflect on how I can further build the school/home window. Michael Bond-Clegg’s recent post, “Are We Prioritizing the Tradition of a Report Card Over Student Learning?” really got me pondering this when he writes:
Here are just a few of my what ifs for now. I would love to hear your feedback, especially if it’s something you’ve tried/dreamed about as well!
- What if teachers and students regularly coauthored learning reports (do you think something like this would work–I was thinking that notes could be added in each relevant category as learning developments worth noting arise, not as a chart to be completely filled each week)?
- What if teachers openly discussed our anecdotal notes with each student and asked for their feedback?
- What if parents were able to write and respond to notes with what they are seeing at home with regards to specific learning goals?
- What if students were able to write and respond to notes with what they are experiencing with regards to specific learning goals?
- What if we completely eliminated surprise “grades” and moments like those illustrated in the meme below?