Thursday, September 29, 2011

Parents in the Classroom Part One

Today was a great day at school as I had my first parents in the classroom event. During my three social science periods I invited parents to stop by and take part in the activities I had planned for the class. On average I had about 50% of the parents in each class show up which was higher than I had originally anticipated. The class periods were only 45 minutes long, so it really flew by and was over before I knew it. While parents were there they sat with their child as well as a another student and worked on a couple of Ancient Egyptian “games” that reinforced some of the content we had been discussing lately.

I had a mix of moms and dads and in some cases both parents came in. As the parents were working with the kids, I roamed around and mostly observed the activity in the room. The best part of what I was seeing was the interaction between the parents and their kids. Now, I know these types of interactions happen at home and probably in numerous other places, but this was in the student’s school. How often does this happen? I even had one mom lean over and tell me, “I didn’t plan on learning anything new today…boy I was wrong.” It really was a great morning for all of us involved.

A few of my colleagues asked me why I did this and some with raised eyebrows and skeptical looks.  For me, there were a few reasons why I decided to do it and plan on doing it again.
  • The simple presence of a parent in the classroom shows a child that their parent values the work they are doing in the classroom.
  • Watching a child work with their parent tells me a great deal of the type of relationship they have and helps me learn that much more about my students as people.
  • Events such as this help create and nurture positive parent-teacher relationships that will always help in the long run.
  • It opens me up as a teacher and shows parents they do have a place in my classroom and I do value their involvement.
  • This allowed parents the golden opportunity to embarrass their child just by being in the same room as them and their friends in a middle school!
  • It gave parents a chance to learn with their child in a way they might not have had in a long time.
  • Finally, if I am going to say I value parent’s involvement in their child’s education, I have to back it up and this is just one small step towards doing that.

I highly encourage every teacher to look for ways to include parents in their class and even open the doors and let them in. You might need to set parameters that these days are not a time to discuss their child’s progress, but don’t hesitate to bring them in. Parents are truly an important part of a child’s education and simply saying that is not enough. If we don’t open the doors and let them in and provide them the opportunities to join, we are just talking and that never helps anyone. After the parents left, I sent an email asking for some feedback and here are just a few of the comments I received:

“It's always nice to see the kids in school and get to see how they interact at school and with friends.”
 “Time flies when you're having fun!”
“Junior High is a new environment for my children so it was good for them to realize parents involvement in their educational classroom setting continues beyond the elementary level.”
 “It would be wonderful to be able to participate again, and as a parent , I truly see the value of such an experience.”
“Thank you so much for the opportunity to be a part of your class!”
"Sometimes it feels like parents are intentionally kept out of the classroom/school building - what a treat to get to be included in that today."
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