I was THAT teacher. The teacher that dreaded parent teacher interviews. Not because I am a bad teacher, but because I taught chemistry, and kids struggle with chemistry. So every set of PTIs I would prepare for the onslaught of angry parents coming in and asking “Why is my kid failing? Why are you so hard on them? What are you doing to get them to pass?”
It was after that question, that I realized it – I need to tell parents what I’m doing. Explain my class, my teaching, my passion and my pedagogy! So, every Sunday I sat down and wrote a blog post for each of my classes, in which I described what we did in class the previous week, including trials, tribulations, reflections and successes. Then I would discuss what was coming up the next week, what we were going to do, areas of strength or weakness (based on previous years) and upcoming due dates. Finally, I would talk about WHY we were doing the things we were doing in class. This allowed me to explain my pedagogical thinking on project based learning, assessment, outcomes and learning design. Every week, I would email the link to parents and students, and wait….
What happened was astounding! Not only did I get my ideas and beliefs out to parents and kids, I no longer had parents questioning my teaching. Instead, they were seeing my side of things, they were asking the right kinds of questions, they were supporting their kids in ways they had never done before. It also opened up a door that had not been there before; parents would email me asking how their kids are doing, or whether they handed in specific assignments in the previous week. This allowed me to become more comfortable with emailing parents when there WAS an issue, because they were already well aware of what was happening in class, and the expectations that had been set from the start.
After a while, I became THAT teacher... again. But this time, I was the teacher that parents knew what was going on all the time. The one that parents were well aware of what was going on in class, and students knew what was coming well ahead of time. I no longer dreaded parent teacher interviews, and neither did parents or students. Because really, it was an ongoing conversation throughout the year, so when they came in, it was to say hi, or thank you, or to strategize on how to better support their child. We became allies in their child’s education.