Top 4 Things Teachers Want to Tell Parents

A month ago, I had the pleasure to speak in front of and conduct a training on better communication skills with parents and students with the teachers teaching in overseas Filipino schools in Doha, Qatar. At the beginning of the workshop, the teachers recalled experiences with parents who were very challenging to handle. These teachers, like the rest of the teachers around the world, have encountered the fury of the tiger mom, the non-stop calls of the helicopter father, the unfair demand of the snowflake mother, and well, the absence of the ghost dad. While most of the encounters ended in the most diplomatic and desirable ways, a few teachers noted how an experience with a difficult parent could be “traumatic” and “nerve-wracking.”

If given the chance to send parents short, sweet, and thoughtful messages, what would you tell them? I conducted a little survey with teachers in my network and here are the top four messages they would want to tell the parents.

1. “We are the teachers. Our job is to teach your children.”

This simply re-establishes that teachers are the teachers. Some parents forget or simply takes this for granted as they make unreasonable demands to teachers for their children. Sometimes, there are parents who act like they know or think better than the teacher. This is may be alright if done with the proper boundaries and communicated properly. However, some parents would go further and really make the teacher or the school, in general, feel that what they are doing in the classrooms are inadequate. In a few words, teachers are just asking for trust that, as teachers, we know what we are doing in their classrooms.

2. “Praise your children in times of success.”

Take time to celebrate the successes of your children. We mean every accomplishment. It doesn’t matter whether it’s little or momentous. It’s still an accomplishment which your children have really worked hard for. Praise them. Reward them, if you like. However, in between the praises and celebrations, teach your children about the importance of humility.

 3. “Teach your children that it is ok to fail.”

Failure is part of learning. It is unfortunate though that some parents would “not allow” their children to fail or to commit mistakes while learning. This kind of mindset in parents drives an unhealthy message to children. In school, students cry for one or two mistakes in test, feel bad about themselves, and develop anxiety or fear towards their parents. Yet, life clearly tells us that in order to become better or to learn more, we need to commit mistakes. We need to experience failure because it is in failing what we get to know more of ourselves and develop life skills that would help us cope up with bigger failures or challenges that would come our way in the future, in the real world outside the four walls of the classroom.

4. “My classroom is open for visits.”

Teachers aim to develop and foster a collaborative and supportive relationship with the parents of their students. In order to do this, we invite our parents to visit us in the school, send us a message, or call us. We can have a short chat on how we can make the school better for you children. However, please do remember to make fair and thoughtful requests. We are here to work with you.

So, those are the top four messages which came out during the workshop. I believe that the messages resonates with the sentiments of other teachers around the world. For you, what message would you like to tell your parents?

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5 EdTech Tips to Empower and Involve Parents in School

5 EdTech Tips to Empower and Involve Parents in SchoolIn order for technology integration in the classroom to be successful, the support and participation of the school community are very much needed.

 

School leaders train and support their teachers so that they can better prepare themselves as they aim to accomplish the tasks expected of them. Teachers expect full support from administrators as they venture on to something new that would alter the way they teach and connect with students. Students need teacher’s guidance as they use various technological tools during class activities. As students are exposed to a lot of tech products whether inside or outside the classroom, there is a greater need for the school to provide support and guidance to them so that they can manage their tech use, evaluate the information they encounter online, and create the best artefacts of their learning. With this great amount of expectations, the school can surely tap the parents as partners in education.

Parents are important stakeholders in the field of education. They play a crucial role to the academic success of their children. With the greater use of technology tools in our society today, connecting with parents has become more urgent. Of course, it is a known fact that involving parents in the learning of students can be advantageous because parents can build a stronger support system for their children at home. Involving parents would also mean giving them a chance to track the progress of their children in school, making them more aware of what is happening to their children, academically and behaviourally.

So, how can tech tools be used to involve parents more? Here are some tips.

1. Use apps that allow parental access.

Apps such as Edmodo or SeeSaw, among others, allow students and teachers to communicate with each other. Moreover, they also have features that allow students to demonstrate their learning in class. Edmodo has quiz or poll features that can test knowledge easily. SeeSaw has great features that let students express what they learned using various media and curate them in one place. When parents are given access to this kind of home-school communication apps, then the parents are given a more transparent view of the progress of their children.

2. Set-up a class blog or educational website.

Teachers can set-up a class or educational blog that can feature students’ work, announcements, or information needed by the class. Parents may follow this blog and receive updates on class activities or announcements. Plus, showcasing exemplars of student products or projects can also motivate students to do better since their work is being shared to a different set of audience outside the four walls of the classroom.

3. Use notification apps or tools.

The most convenient tools to communicate with parents are readily available. Schools can use email, text alerts, or set-up an official website. These are tried and tested means to get announcements and updates across to parents. Social media apps such as Twitter can also serve as notification or announcement tools.

4. Conduct an open house.

Schools can hold open house activities. Parents may visit or sit in during a class so that they can personally witness how students use mobile devices or tech tools in class. During an open house, empower students through letting them teach their parents on how for example they use a specific app. EdTech open nights is another modification to accommodate parents who are only free at night, especially those who are only available after their work time.

5. Hold Digital Citizenship sessions.

Children’s online safety is an essential task for both the school and parents. Have parents attend and undergo digital citizenship workshops so that they can further understand and learn how to guide and protect their children from unwanted elements online. This is a crucial task for them because, at home, parents are the only ones who can make sure that their children are shielded from cyber bullying, unwanted messages, or any privacy violations.

Some things to consider.

Of course, as much as we want to involve parents in the digital aspect of learning, we must also consider some factors.

First, teachers should be confident with his or her professional dealings with parents. Sometimes, teachers are not comfortable or confident to involve parents further in their class because in reality, there are some parents who demand too much or treat teachers unprofessionally. Unpleasant experiences with parents can also affect teachers’ confidence. Hence, before schools involve parents, school leaders should make sure that teachers are ready to engage with them even through digital means.

Second, not all parents are digitally literate. Some parents might need to learn how to use some apps or some tech tools so that they can participate in the school’s digital program. Empowering parents can also make sure that they are knowledgeable about what their children are using and doing in class. It would be a great challenge if a parent knows nothing about the use of a certain app or tech tool as compared to his or her child, who may go astray from the task assigned. Remember, tools such as iPad may distract students from learning. Offering technology sessions or digital citizenship workshops can empower parents so that they can better protect their children and guide them with how they use tech tools such as tablets.

Last, schools can also set an avenue where the parents can formally communicate and discuss with teachers or school leaders about their observations, feedback, or suggestions about the use of technology in the studies of their children. Giving them the opportunity to dialogue can further improve the technology program of the school since they provide a different perspective that only parents are capable of seeing. Parents should be empowered so that they may understand the reason behind the use technological tools in class. After all, they are also partners of the school in its mission of educating their children.