Every teacher knows that parent involvement is critical to classroom success. And research has consistently confirmed that students with involved parents have higher grades, better attendance, and better social skills.
But every teacher also knows that keeping parents engaged in the classroom can be a challenge. We asked ATPE members to share their secrets for keeping parents informed and involved in the classroom.
Thanks to all our members who contributed tips and stories!
Tech Paves the Way
Members agreed that technology makes parent interactions more efficient. Here are some of your favorite classroom apps.
“I love sharing Google Suite access rights so parents can see what is happening in the classroom as it is happening. My parents love adding comments to their students’ essays and products, and the curriculum is demystified, thus increasing future engagement.”
—Stephanie Stoebe, fourth-grade English/language arts teacher, Round Rock ISD
“I love using Remind with parents and students.”
—Kellie Williams Smith, high school math teacher, Southwest ISD
“This past year was the first year that I used ClassDojo. Absolutely loved it and was in touch with parents frequently through this. It is a mixture of texting, sharing photos and videos, and behavior—all in one place. It is a closed group and parents have to have a code to join. It focuses on the positive, but there are consequences for the negatives. We have class rewards as well as individual rewards for points.”
—Brenda Browning, third-grade teacher, Granbury ISD
“I make sure my parents can access my resources through the school’s website, email, and by using Remind, a program that parents join to receive classroom news. I am confined to 140 characters, which means I am super-specific with info. Parents like the 24-7-365 access of Remind. I update my web page once a week as well. Yes, my parents can call me at home.”
—Pam Torre, seventh- and eighth-grade social studies teacher, Lackland Air Force Base
Don’t Forget the Food!
Eden Renovato, paraprofessional at Hempstead Early Childhood Center, offers these smart tips
for getting parents to help out on campus.
“A Morning Coffee Break: Have coffee and set up a table where parents can come in and pick up special work that needs to be done. They can do it while an aide, admin, or teacher welcomes them. Let them know about the school calendar and how the school could use their help.
A Midday Snack: Parents come in during the kids’ lunch break and have a small snack while they talk with the teacher or counselor about upcoming events or how they can help their kids with their studies.
A Saturday Sundae: This is a good way to open the doors to working parents who can’t stop by during the week but want to be part of the school. Once a month, open the school for parents and grandparents to help out with simple gardening, bulletin board décor, getting supplies ready for testing, or anything else the school needs help with. At the end, they can all enjoy a sundae!
Brown Bag Kits: Remember that some parents are willing to help but have young kids, so a Brown Bag Kit can help them feel welcome. This kit has a special project a teacher may need help with (cutting, tracing, gluing) that the parent can pick up on Monday and deliver back to the school finished by Thursday, for example. I think all parents really want to help, but the time limitations we set close the doors on some of them.”
Care and Communication Are Key
Social studies teacher Pam Torre says understanding parents’ culture is key to a successful relationship.
“My priority has always been effective parent-teacher-student communication. I have been known to schedule a conference at the Base Library and even at the food court on base. My favorite time? That's easy: 1 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon during football season. You would be surprised at the punctuality and the brevity.
As a former military member, I understand the unique culture of my military families, and if it makes sense to conference over a glass of iced tea or a slice of pizza with the family, I am all for it. My mission is to serve my families to the best of my ability. Care and communication are very important to me.”
For more tips on how to improve communication with parents, read the ATPE Blog post
by member Cheryl Drews.