I don’t think parents want to know nearly as much as we seem to think they want to know. Parents claim they want to know everything happening in their child’s school day, and we try to make that happen. We post our curriculum so parents can see it; we post our weekly lesson plans so parents can see exactly what we are teaching their children. We post grades in real time so parents can see exactly what is completed and how their children did on it. Many of my colleagues are constantly sending email updates to their students’ parents. One of my colleagues even makes this a weekly routine.
And yet, I would bet most (and by most, I mean an extremely high percentage) parents barely even look at any of this. Maybe it’s cynical of me, but in my experience most parents become interested when their child is doing poorly or something goes wrong. Do we really believe many parents are carefully reading our class policies when we make them sign it? Think about it. A parent with 2 kids in high school would have about 15 different sets of policies to read if we all did this. My son’s kindergarten teacher kept a blog last year updating parents on what is happening in class. To be honest, I looked at it maybe 4 times all year.
This is all to say, we bend over backwards to inform parents, but it isn’t really worth all the effort. Please know that I think the home-school connection is vital; I just don’t think we are going about it the right way. I don’t have the answer, but I’m trying something new with my summer school students. I haven’t decided if it works quite yet, though.
Instead of emailing their parents myself, I made my students email their own parents and CC me on it. The summer session is only 3 weeks long, so on Friday of each week, students have to email their parents telling them what they did this week, any grades they got, and upcoming due dates. This keeps parents posted, forces communication between the student and his/her parents, makes the practice writing a bit, and saves me the time.
Does it work? I don’t know yet. A few students are super resistant to it. I’m pretty sure one of my students doesn’t actually email his parents-just some sort of dummy account. Students don’t know how to write appropriate and effective emails either. In fairness, this is a skill I should probably be teaching them, but summer school doesn’t allow enough time for that really.
I’ll obviously contact parents if I have concerns as the summer session rounds out, but I like the premise of having students send the email instead of me. I think this is an idea I’ll toy with a bit more during the actual school year.