Saturday, June 2, 2012

Getting uninvolved parents involved

Is there a trick? My experiences are limited to Kuwaiti parents, and they, in general, can never be considered as invested in education, so how do I push the necessity of their involvement? I'm just about finished my reports (we have to have them done before the end of school, so we can fly back to Toronto on time) and I find it interesting to see which kids are high, which are low, and who has or has not made any improvement this year.

Generally speaking, my high kids have involved parents. Some more than others, but, generally speaking, I can have conversations with them about anything related to their kid(s). Often, though, my low kids or my behaviour problems have parents who are plain absent, and it is incredibly frustrating. I understand that these kids often act out, because they don't get the attention at home, but that doesn't make dealing with them in class any easier. I've tried all of the methods I can think of, and when I do call home I am told that their child will be a perfect student next class. Of course this doesn't happen, and I think I know why.

Now I am strictly speaking about the parents I deal with here in Kuwait. I need to mention this, because life here is just different. Kids are often raised by their nannies, and their parents are often out of the country. When the parents are around they want to spend time with family, and they often push their kid's homework to the side. They want their kids to learn, but they see it as a passive experience. Kids go to school, they sit while the teacher teaches, and then they go home to their real, active life. Parents expect their kids to learn by osmosis here, and they are shocked when they see their child's failing grade. Despite the teacher calling home and telling them. They don't seem to understand that their involvement and participation is necessary for their son or daughter to truly benefit from learning.

When I was in grade five, my teacher met with my mother and I at the beginning of the year. She had done some testing, and she told us that my spelling was very weak. Three to four grade levels below, in fact. My mother thanked my teacher and we went home. For the rest of the school year I had extra homework every week. My mom and my teacher worked together to help me improve. At the time I hated it. Extra spelling work all the time, when I could be out front playing road hockey. By the end of the year, though, I was spelling words a few grades above where I should have been. If it wasn't for the involvement of my teacher and my mother, I would still be a bad speller and I probably would never have went to university for English Literature.

I know first hand the difference that a parent's involvement can make, but I can't seem to get a lot of my parents to actually help their child. Next year I want to make it a priority to get parental involvement. I've used ClassDojo's behaviour reporting to send parents weekly behaviour records, but I want to do more next year. A lot of my students are smart, but unmotivated. They are shown by their parents that education is simply something to get through, and the way to get through it is by sitting passively and having a teacher bark at you.

My new classroom will be different. I want the students to be more actively engaged/involved, and I want the parents there beside them. One can hope.

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