Dear Parents….Where are you ? I miss you! I need you. WE have a child to prepare for the world and I cannot do it alone. I call, I write, I email, I send Remind messages, I hold conferences but I never hear back from you. I’m worried about your kiddo. They are not [inset issue here that is preventing Little Johnny from passing class] and without us working together, your child, our child, is not going to pass English. They need this course to graduate high school. I look forward to hearing from you preferably before May when it may be too late to help little Johnny pass this class.
Your Child’s English Teacher
In my dreams would I send that letter! I don’t get parents these days. When my son was in high school, if I heard from a teacher, I responded and fast. But just 5 years later, I cannot seem to reach a parent or guardian. Case in point. I teach roughly 150 students this year and for conferences, I saw 3 parents. This is after I called, emailed and sent a letter to about 60 parents that I wanted to see. Did you notice that I made 3 different types of attempts to reach parents? THREE! My success rate for conferences was 5% after all of that contact. FIVE PERCENT of the adults I reached out to responded. And of those 3 parents that I did see, we have turned around the child’s performance 100%. So creating a partnership between parent-teacher-student does help with academic success. I don’t get it.
Emailing parents yields a bit higher response when a student is missing work or not attending class but those emails often float around in cyberspace without generating some type of response.
WHERE ARE THE PARENTS????
I do have many super involved parents and when we are all working in tandem, the child has a safety net to stretch their wings academically and soar. WE work together to get assignments turned in, attendance improves and the child grows both academically and personally. These parents are wonderful. And even when we might not agree on a grade or an assignment, WE continue to challenge our child to try, succeed, and sometimes, fail. These kids will be ready for the real world and the “village” is part of the reason why.
It’s almost midterm of the second marking period so I’m trying something different for parent contact. I have created a cloze letter to parents that their child will complete. The student will outline what they are doing to be successful (or not) in class. This time, I want students to ask their parent for help to improve or maintain their grade. I’ve also listed in this letter when tutoring is available just in case parents have received any of my previous messages with this information. To sweeten the pot with the hopes of actually getting parents to read and sign this letter, I’m tossing in some bonus points. Will this work? I have no idea but at this point, I need to try a new approach.
Of course, Gerry has a video on parent teacher conferences. Just for giggles and kicks.
If you would like a copy of the document I wrote, please email me at Cheryl.firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send it on to you. Villages are important and a teacher village is one of the strongest of them all.
Cheryl Stahle is a contributing blogger for WVCTE. She teaches at Parkersburg High School and is the Co-Director of the Central West Virginia Writing Project based out of Marshall University. Cheryl is also the Vice President of the Marshall Literary Council. She is a not so regular tweeter @msstahleclass. Besides teaching American Literature, her other classroom goal is to teach 1970s classic rock to her students.
WVCTE is wondering what you do to engage parents?
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