Saturday, May 06, 2017

Teaming with Students/Parents: Questions that Lead Collaboration

As I think of my early year meetings with parents, I recognize that I might be able to grow our collaboration in positive ways with the following questions:
  1. What name do you prefer to be addressed by?
  2. The topic of culture and background often comes up in the classroom, would you like to share any information about your culture, family, or background that you feel will help educators to teach your child with greater sensitivity and strength?
  3. What is the best way to communicate with you. . .text? email? phone? in person?
  4. What is the best time to reach you?
  5. How do you think we can help your child grow as a learner? What does he/she need?
  6. These are the expectations for the year's learning--how can I help you to help your child with these expectations? 
  7. It's always great when parents participate in one or more of the year's activities--are there any events that you think you can help out with?
  8. Do you have technology and WIFI at home? Do you need any help with accessing and using the tools we ask students to use at home? Can I help you with this?
  9. Are there other supports that we can provide that will make your child's success more accessible? (Provide parents with a list of supplies that lead to success such as backpacks, snow clothes, play clothes, healthy snacks, . . . .)
  10. Did you know that support is available for free or reduced lunch? (By looking at lists, I wonder if all parents are aware of this)
  11. Do you know that a lot of positive community building happens on the sidelines at extracurricular events? Are you interested in finding out about or enlisting your children in these kinds of events?
Of course, these questions would be part of a conversation and that conversation would differ somewhat from family to family dependent on how the conversation goes. The focus will be to make sure that every family is supported in ways that will help their child succeed, and also to make sure that educators are well aware of a family's needs, interests, and background so that the child is well represented in classroom events. 

What questions and comments would you add to this list?

It's similarly important to have a good conversation at the start of school with every child. Here are some questions that might lead that conversation.
  1. What have you really liked about school in the past? Why?
  2. What have  you really not liked about school in the past? Why?
  3. How can I make this a very successful learning year for you? What do you need to succeed in school?
  4. Do you have the supplies you need to study at home, do well in school, and be a full member of this classroom?
  5. What special interests and talents do you have? How do you practice and build these passions and interests?
  6. Is there anything about yourself that you really want me to know?
  7. What name do you liked to be called by?
  8. What questions do you have for me about school and the community?
What would you add to this list?

Making the time to have meaningful conversations with families and students at the start of the year is integral to teaching and learning success. These face-to-face conversations are far better than surveys, and lead to a much stronger community.