Parents – Being Proactive

This week’s suggested post for the #SAVMP program relates to parents and all the ways that school leaders work to involve them. The research is clear; parental involvement has been correlated with student achievement in many circumstances. Originally, as a high school teacher, I was used to struggling with getting parents involved in my classes. By holding students accountable, I ended up calling parents a great deal. One parent said to me on the phone one time,” I’m tired of your phone calls. ‘Johnny’s’ work WILL be done from now on.” I never had to call them again :)

As a new administrator, I never imagined some of the challenges that I would face in regards to getting in contact with parents and having them involved in their students’ school lives, etc. By year 4 (in my 2nd administrative position), I finally had a lightbulb go off in reference to being proactive in working with “frequent flyers” (students who earned repeated discipline referrals) and their families.

In this 4th year of being in administrative roles, I returned to a school where I once taught. Upon my starting in July, I was presented with the lengthy list of frequent flyers from the year before. I was determined that this would be a different year for these students and their families. So, instead of waiting for that first contact with the parent to be because of the first discipline referral I was proactive and called in the summer. I said something like this to each parent:

“Hello, I’m your student’s new principal. I’m calling many different families to introduce myself and find out how I can serve you this coming school year. I understand that ____________________ had a tough year last year, but since we all want to support your student, I know there are ways in which we can work together to help prevent problems before they start.”

While not every on of those students stayed off the “frequent flyer” list, being proactive with parents and developing relationships with them prior to the student getting in trouble did, on an anecdotal level, make it so the student didn’t make that list often and/or that student earned better learning consequences for those actions from teacher/parent teams which served to help students make better choices in the future.

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2 Comments

Filed under Experiences I Wasn't Prepared for as a School Leader

2 responses to “Parents – Being Proactive

  1. Sheba Lane

    I totally agree with this philosophy. Teaching a few of my school’s very young teachers how to be comfortable with parents of students has become part of my role as the School Improvement Leader. All of our teachers know that conversations flow better when they begin with positive statements about the student. Your post regarding proactively establishing relationships of trust between parents and teachers is both accurate and timely. When surrounded with so much to do in our daily workplace, going an additional mile…one that can be a bit of a rocky road…is easy to avoid. Administrators who demonstrate the power of being proactive and also help their teachers grow comfortable with taking those steps will find that the students are the ones who will truly reap many positive results.

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