Magazine article AMLE Magazine

Parent-Teacher Communication, Student Engagement, and Math

Magazine article AMLE Magazine

Parent-Teacher Communication, Student Engagement, and Math

Article excerpt

Accountability is a powerful motivator in business and in education. As a teacher who often is in contact with my students' parents, I have always believed that accountability encourages parents to become more involved in their child's education.

One day a colleague asked me if I had ever quantified the results of the phone calls, e-mails, and other contacts I had with parents. Thus began my research project.

Direct Research

During the 2011-2012 and 2012- 2013 school years, I divided my math classes into two groups. The parents of the students in group one received a weekly generic e-mail that described what was going on in the classroom, the dates of quizzes and tests, and general school information. The parents of the students in group two received the same e-mail, with one additional line. At the bottom of the e-mail, before my signature, I added the following: "Thank you for being actively involved in (student's name)'s education. You truly make a difference to (his/her) education."

Personalizing the e-mail yielded amazing results. Almost immediately, students in group two began commenting that I was "talking to" their parents. What's more, they said their parents were asking them questions about school.

Over the course of the two school years, the academic achievement of group two students surpassed that of group one students. Believing that I was doing a disservice to the group one students, I ended my experiment and provided the same level of personalization to both groups. During the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 school years, 100% of the geometry students and approximately 95% of the algebra students passed the end of course exam.

Does this mean that every student whose teacher contacts their parents on a regular basis will excel in school? No, but the chances are certainly greater that the parent will become more involved to some extent. No parent wants to feel that he or she is not living up to expectations as a parent, especially when it comes to education.

Other techniques can foster increased parental involvement, such as providing parents with the login information for the school portal so they can check their child's grade on a regular basis. As the father of a seventh grader, I check my son's grades online daily. That allows me to provide immediate feedback and correction if an assignment is missed or a test grade is not to my level of expectation. …

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