This is the unedited version of my column published in the Suns on November 15 2016.
OPTIMISING HOME AND SCHOOL COMMUNICATION
Communication between school and home is important in keeping parents and teachers in touch with each other on their children’s progress. Without communication misunderstandings can develop.
An important and often overlooked aspect of these conversations is timing. For teachers, the time of preoccupation and total focus on the school day begins prior to children answering the first bell each morning. This continues until the last child has left or been collected at the end of the school day. Teacher focus continues during both lesson and break times. During recess and at lunch time many extra duties are asked of staff. These include tasks ranging from professional meetings to yard duty.
Meetings between parents and teachers, by phone, skype, or face-to-face, are best organised by appointment. Parents contacting school offices can organise these conversations at a time convenient to both. Wanting to hold discussions with teachers during times when they are otherwise engaged, can lead to frustration and ill-feeling.
Parent – teacher interviews are offered by many schools at least twice each year. Schools are frequently concerned that parents do not take advantage of the chance for a ten or fifteen minute discussion that touches on both student strengths and challenges. Most schools make every effort to accomodate parents by offering alternative afternoon and evening appointments. Notwithstanding their efforts to contact parents and set up appointments, many are disappointed with the response.
An innovation introduced by some schools is to have students lead the reporting process. With parents and teacher engaged, the student leads and contributes to the conversation that is highlighting successes and challenges. This is a unique way of developing communication partnerships, but at times in depth conversations need to take place between parent and teacher.
One of the confusions for parents can be the challenge to understanding created by jargon and terminology specific to education. With constant changes on the educational front, ‘keeping up’ with new methodology terminology becomes a challenge for teachers, let alone parents. A great deal of focus becomes lost in constantly changing words and acronyms describing education. Parents and caregivers can be left stranded in a maze that seems to hide real educational meaning and need.
Communication is the more meaningful if conversation is understandable and focuses on key issues. Quality exchange between parents and teachers builds an understanding of educational matters faced by students and that helps build positive relations between home and school.