7. Families and Community: The teacher communicates and collaborates with students, families and all educational stakeholders in an ethical and professional manner to promote student learning. To me, this means that educators involve families in the educational process and utilize them as a resource to create consistency between the classroom and home. In A New Wave of Evidence: The Impact of School, Family, and Community Connections on Student Achievement, Henderson and Mapp (2002) state, “When school staff engage in caring and trusting relationships with parents that recognize parents as partners in the educational development of children, these relationships enhance parents’ desire to be involved and influence how they participate in their children’s educational development” (p.45). I applied this reading and my notes from module 6 (Figure 1.1) to my internship placement. There is a student in our 9th grade Honors English class that struggled with habitual tardiness, missing assignments and abusing the hall pass. I believe the accumulation of all this missed class time resulted in a lack of content knowledge, which led to missing assignments and a lack of participation. Despite numerous intervention techniques, the issues continued. In addition, this student had an attitude when approached and often responded with one-word answers.
Based on these tendencies and low-performance during the first quarter, we reached out to her parents to express our concerns. Her father was receptive and we scheduled a time to meet. We had what I perceived as a productive meeting regarding her lack of accountability. He expressed his concern for the amount of missing assignments and his daughter’s apparent prioritization of social dynamics over academics. Though there was consistent communication with the father, little changed following the meeting. We had a second meeting with her parents, but this meeting also included her counselor, assistant principal and all of her teachers. All educators expressed similar apprehensions regarding the student’s tardiness, missing assignments, lack of participation, and leaving the classroom daily. This meeting resulted in the student being added to the “No-Pass List” and we provided her parents a report card to outline the missing assignments. The student broke down during the meeting and was not able to verbally express her emotions, but it was evident that the meeting had stuck a cord. After the second meeting, the behavior of the student changed; she has been on-time to every class and has completed assignments on time. Several weeks after the meeting, her father stopped by to check in and we discussed her progress. The student had a smile on her face and an energy I had not seen before. She was truly excited to hear our positive comments and how we noticed her effort and improvements. Her father said she had started to read on her own, something he has never seen before. Though this is just a step, it was an encouraging conversation in regards to her progress and the power of family and community involvement.
This was all instigated by a simple email. The email transpired into two meaningful meetings and a student headed in the right direction. It reaffirms the notes in figure 1.1 regarding parent involvement and highlights that parents are eager to become a part of their student’s education, when invited. This experience only challenges me as an educator to increase the volume of family contact. It may be helpful to set a goal for myself to reach out to at least three parents each day. Though teachers’ schedules are hectic, family involvement must be prioritized as stated in Figure 1.1.