Involved Parents - any tips for handling them?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Pencil Monkey, Aug 23, 2007.

  1. Pencil Monkey

    Pencil Monkey Devotee

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    Aug 23, 2007

    :D I love that my students parents are so involved and want to ensure their child's success. Many of my students are from private school backgrounds. I'm working in a charter school in its first year for the first time. I'm coming from a title one background and not used to all this attention from parents.

    How do you handle overly involved parents? I get a barrage of emails, notes and phone calls everyday from parents. While I truly appreciate it all, I just don't have the time to field every single one of them. I can't help but feel that they want to "volunteer" to be in the classroom to help as a means of sitting in on my lessons and judging my teaching. :unsure: Not that I necessarily mind.....

    but well its the second week of school and i've heard complaints that i'm not challenging them enough.
     
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  3. jayt11

    jayt11 Rookie

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    Aug 23, 2007

    i wish i received a barrage of parent involvement. I had some parents who i didn't even see last year.


    I would send a letter to them stating my hours of availibility. I usually say 3 to 5 after school is the best time to visit. If it's an emergency, they may call my home number.
     
  4. 1stGr8

    1stGr8 Companion

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    Aug 24, 2007

    What I do is on Back to School Night I put two sign up sheets. One is for parents to indicate if they have a special cultural event or interest that they would like to come into the room for. The second sheet asks them to indicate if they would like to help in other ways, such as coming in for big projects, etc. I tell them to write their availability next to it so I know who to call first.

    I also send home a weekly newsletter which is an outline of what we are doing and a monthly newsletter which has pictures, and is more detailed. This keeps them in the loop and off your back a lot.
     
  5. grade2rocks

    grade2rocks Rookie

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    Aug 24, 2007

    Those are some great suggestions.

    When sending home a detailed weekly newsletter outlining your plans/activities, proceed with caution. I've had parents actually complain if for some reason our plans changed, and I wasn't able to follow the newsletter to a "t". Somehow let parents know that these are your plans, but sometimes you will need to be flexible.

    In my public school, we're told parents (as taxpayers) have the right at any time to visit (whether particularly convenient or not). I'd check on your charter school's policy before setting "visiting hours" for parents.
     
  6. terptoteacher

    terptoteacher Connoisseur

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    Aug 24, 2007

    Can you set up a web site? That way the parents can check it all the time and see what's going on in the room.
     
  7. collteach

    collteach Comrade

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    Aug 24, 2007

    I don't think it is wrong at all to set up times when YOU can be visited or contacted by parents. Of course, they can come in and silently observe whenever they want (if your school has that policy), but they need to understand that the teacher will not be available to speak to them, email them, call them during the school day.

    I had VERY active parents last year. I had a few who really wanted to be IN the classroom helping out. However, I could just tell that some were not the kind of parents I could trust to keep things confidential and professional, so I made it a point not to invite any parents to volunteer to actually work with students. I found other ways that they could help me and the students, and they were great. I also set up a classroom webpage, and updated it frequently (often several times a week). I did warn parents that if the week was extra busy, the information might not be the most up-to-date, but they were fine with that. I usually just gave an outline of our units of study...and did not go into details about what we were actually doing in the unit...in case we got backed up or moved ahead faster than expected.

    I know that my colleagues tell parents that phone calls, notes, and emails will be responded to within 2 school days (unless it is something urgent). I felt that was a little long to wait, but now I understand why they do that...of course, most of the time they get back with the parents that day, but just in case, it gives them a bit of a buffer.
     
  8. MsKay

    MsKay Rookie

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    Aug 24, 2007

    This year I have already met one parent- school does not begin for anther 2 weeks- and she said she will be there the first week to help her daughter get used to a new school. I almost wanted to scream because the first week is crazy in itself much less wth a parent hanging around all day. So my plan is to give her the first week and just pray she does not get in the way. Then after that try to explain with my principal, if neccessary, that her daughter is an upper grader now and she may adjust better by her self for a few days. I really hope she wont be too much of a problem. Oh another way to keep parents out is not to have extra seating. We dont have room for any other chairs in our room, so there would be no place for them to sit. Then they wont stay or you can have your class really mobile that day to where eventuay the parents will feel like them sitting in the class is really in the way. If you keep your kids moving and changing seats for reading and standing up to the board for math, maybe the parent will get tired of the kids being in their way and eventually leave!!
    Just a lil thought, was that mean??
     
  9. Lotte

    Lotte Companion

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    Aug 24, 2007

    Julie in GA: I think you have gotten many great answers. Let them know that they can reach you between a certain time and then ask them to please respect your right to privacy as well.

    If they want to come in the classroom, tell them to sign about confideniality and put them up as reading helpers.

    And also:

    Ms Kay: I have seen parents who stayed in the classes to make sure their kids settled in... Well, they have all ended up watching their child's teacher and watch how often the teacher talks to their child compared to others. If a parent was to stay in the room for a whole week I would make sure that they signed in as parent volunteers, sign about confidentiality and put them to work. This way, if they really want to stay in the room, they can do something useful, like listening to kids read. That way, you can tell them that, their child wont feel like their mummy is shaperoning them, but they'll still be able to be nearby. And I think it would be a good idea to talk to the principal to make sure that they know about the situation too. (Especially if it makes you uncomfortable)

    Good luck!
     
  10. Pencil Monkey

    Pencil Monkey Devotee

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    Aug 24, 2007

    i do send home a weekly newsletter with an outline of what we are doing every day. I also have a website set up, the tech guy at school maintains it for me so all i have to do is ask him to put something on it and he will. I've also sent home a pamphlet explaining my classroom rules, procedures and routines. I even have my outgoing voice mail set to give out the spelling and homework nightly. On top of that my kids all have an assignment book that gets written in every day by me. I also send home weekly friday folders with all thier work and a progress report. So trust me, I am doing my part.

    :p

    I am overwhelmed by the response. I guess i'm just not used to all this involvement. :)
     
  11. Missy

    Missy Aficionado

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    Aug 24, 2007

    You are doing a LOT!! :) If this does not satisfy your parents, I would get the principal involved. Could it be that they are checking you out because you are new to the building? Just a thought. Have a great week-end.
     
  12. ok88

    ok88 Rookie

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    Aug 24, 2007

    Hi Julie. I have had similar issues with parents. I open my classroom 30 minutes before the official start of the day and the parents help listen to home reading and sight words. If they then chose to stay on, I tell them what a fantastic help it would be if they could tidy up the storeroom, the art trolley, weed our garden etc. and they are truly delighted to help. I now have four of my most enthusiastic parents taking small groups of children to the garden for half an hour each afternoon. They feel (and are) appreciated and are really contributing in a positive way. Hope this helps.
     
  13. shouldbeasleep

    shouldbeasleep Enthusiast

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    Aug 24, 2007

    All of you are handling this problem in such nice ways, and have great ideas. And she is checking you out because you're new. I think I would also give her a list of parents who want to "volunteer" and ask her to help fill out a weekly volunteer chart with time and "job" description. Tell her to not forget to put her time down. Then its "thanks for coming today and helping. I'll see you next whatever."
    On the outside of the door, you have a sign that says that you are available to conference with parents at _____ times. And something about respecting the need for you to give your full attention to the students. It would help a lot if the whole school had that sign up. I know of one here in our district, and it's worked quite well.
    And whatever you do, don't give out your home phone number!
     
  14. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

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    Aug 24, 2007

    I would invite them in for more social situations like science experiments, field trips, celebrations, and maybe even small reading groups so they can encourage students one-on-one.

    As for the barrage of letters, phone calls, and e-mails... wow. Last year, I had 20 students and half of the parents, at least, were very involved. This year I have 18 and some wonderful parents as well. Sometimes I've gotten self-conscious in the past, but don't think in your mind that you are being judged by them because that's made me nervous, personally.

    Sometimes in the beginning, too, parents are more enthusiastic and tell you they can do more... yet they don't in the long run.

    As for challenge, maybe try Brain Busters like Mrs. Renz or try some self-guided discovery projects. Remember, it only IS the 2nd week of school where you are... :woot: How challenging can you be in 10 days time??
     
  15. mom&teacher

    mom&teacher Companion

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    Aug 24, 2007

    I second the DON'T GIVE OUT YOUR HOME NUMBER!!!!!

    Set limits, try having at home volunteers (I have lamenated manilla envelopes that parents sign up to have once a week.) That way they feel involved without having too many people in your classroom.

    I had a parent last year that complained all year long. She came on our field trip to the zoo and had a group of 4 kids with her. After the field trip she told me that she respects me for what I've done with her son. And on the last day of school talked to my principle about how great I was and then came and complimented me again. They don't realize how hard our job actually is!
     
  16. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    Aug 24, 2007

    Wow, I am amazed! We have a class of 22 3rd graders, and have seen/met exactly 4 parents. Of those, only the grandmother of one of our students offers to and shows up to volunteer (she is great!). That being said, I know from experience that enthusiastic parental involvement can actually make things worse. As a Girl Scout leader, my large (30+) troop required many of the same classroom management skills I now use in the classroom. I can't tell you how many times I noticed that, whenever mommy was "helping," little Suzy or Jane or whoever -- began acting out! If mommy wasn't there (or was in another room, even), there were no behavioral problems. Go figure! (I also know that my own daughter behaved better in class if I WASN'T there.)
     

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