Some Thoughts on Developing Parent – Teacher – Student Triangle in a Public School Environment.
- Have a meeting at the beginning of the year. Set expectations of practice. Determine a way to communicate with parents that they would expect during the year. That may be sending group emails weekly with practice expectations, sending home parent letters, etc. Choose whatever is most convenient for you and then be consistent with it.
- In my classroom I do weekly practice logs. I write what needs to be practiced and I give it to the kids. They keep it for a week, the parent needs to sigh it and return it on the following Monday. I MAKE IT a part of their grade. If they miss more than two practice logs, their grade goes lower. This helps me keep students on track because they do see it as an important component of their class.
- Sometimes I try setting up a concert early in the school year just for new students. I use the concert as a way to get to know parents, send parent letters at the concert, require their information, talk about chaperone and support parent club expectations, etc. This is a wonderful way to establish relationship with parents. They come for something positive, and then they get to find out about their own involvement in the program.
- I teach all my beginning students about introducing their parents to me after the concert. I make a big deal of it. I talk about concert behavior. Then I separate the class into two teams, one of the team members pretend that they are the parents, then they switch. I have the students practice good manners by introducing their “pretend” parent to me and practicing for the concert. This helps me a lot with parents who may be reluctant to talk to a teacher or to be involved in the program. The responsibility of engaging the parent is now put on the student. They see it as one of their classroom expectations.
- With older students, you need the parent to be on track with practice. However, at this point of their development, the parent would not necessarily practice with the kid at home. In my classroom I often send reports that needed to be signed. For example the report may be a simple letter saying “John is doing well with practicing scales. But I have a concern about his discipline. Please, sign and respond to this letter”. “Kate is doing great at her posture development. However, I have a concern about her listening. About two weeks ago I send a CD home for her to listen daily. Would you sign and respond if she has indeed been listening to it”.
- In a school system, you would see your students more than once a week (which would be the case with a private lesson) Because of that you would have much more time to develop that “parent” role with your children. This way you can still work on developing a parent involvement but you also have a stronger role within the parent-teacher-child triangle. In this respect it is also very important to develop a relationship with the students. Something as simple as standing by the door and greeting them as they are walking into our classroom can go a long way.Taking a minute to ask how their weekend wend or how they are doing in their other classes can also provide that bonding between a teacher and students. These conversations will also give you valuable information about the student home environment.
- Using older students as mentors could be a very powerful tool when woking in a school environment. It takes longer to develop a classroom community where older students help the younger ones. However, once it has been developed, the students will regardless of their family environment. Students always look up to the older ones. This can be used as an additional tool to place beginning students in a “no fail” environment. I will be writing a separate post on what I do in my classroom to develop these relationships.
When planning for my classes, I make sure that I have:
- daily contact through greeting students
- daily discussions/check at the end of class.
- daily reminder of what exactly they need to practice at home (technical detail, posture, specific measure numbers, etc).
- providing written forms or their assignments (charts, practice logs, etc.)
- regular communication with parents through parent letters or email.