Inviting Parents In

There is no magic bullet for creating partnerships between home and family. How I wish there was! However, once in a while I hear another teacher’s idea and borrow it to suit my own purpose.  Isn’t that something we all do?

In this case I borrowed my colleague Kim Bonfilio’s idea of seeking parent input on what they hope for their child in Third Grade. It’s a great one, built upon the Responsive Classroom activity of students’ Hopes and Dreams.

In my case, I sent a 6-item questionnaire to parents — remarkably I got about 75% of the questionnaires back the very next day. Many of them had thoughtful, introspective answers. The sheer number of returns was a pleasant surprise: conventional wisdom tells us that urban, high poverty parents are disengaged from their child’s school life.  In this case, conventional wisdom would be largely incorrect.

Hopes and Dreams for My Student

  1. What is your child’s strength in school? What is something he or she does well?
  2. Is there an academic area (math, reading, writing, etc.) in which you feel your child needs help?  Be as specific as you can be.
  3. What do you hope that your child will be able to do in Third Grade?
  4. What overall goal or dream do you have for your child?
  5. How do you see us – teacher, parent, and student – working together to reach this goal?
  6. Is there something else you feel it is important that I know?

In addition to the questionnaire, I am trying to contact parents of students who seem to be well-below grade level in reading – reading is my focus at this time because that is what we are benchmark testing at this moment. Many students seem to be about one and a half to two years below grade level and this is a place where a home-school connection is not only necessary, it is essential. We will need to work extremely hard – and smart – to start to close the gap.
How I wish I had the courage of Jonathan Kozol to make home visits. I need to get parents working with me pronto.
This survey is a step toward that partnership.