You are on page 1of 6

DOCUMENTATION / DESCRIPTION OF PARENT CONTACT & COLLABORATION April 24, 2013 (2:15- 3:30 pm) After approximately a month

into my student teaching experience I contacted parents of students who were receiving a failing grade in the class. The idea was not to simply inform them of this fact so they would be presented with bad news, but rather to collaborate with families in order to ensure learner growth. It was interesting to observe that some parents were very willing and ready to work with their child in order to help them improve their class performance, while others seemed rather apathetic towards the fact that their child was receiving a failing grade. After receiving parental input on the situation it also helps me as a teacher to know which students may have more or less home support and where I need to play more of the role of reminding and encouraging them to do the work necessary to bring their grade up and perform well in the class. Below are descriptions of conversations I had with parents in collaborating with families to ensure learner growth. Through the school operating system I am able to access phone numbers for each student and speak with a parent that is available to discuss their childs classroom performance. For the sake of conf identiality I will not include any parent or student names in the descriptions. Furthermore, I was able to collaborate with other colleagues within my professional learning community who also have some of my same students and discuss their family situations and effective means of working with specific students and families to ensure their learning development. In collaborating with colleagues we are able to advance the profession by doing all we can within our PLC to provide the opportunities and resources for our students to achieve at high levels.

Student 1 Initially I called student 1 and spoke with an individual who was not the students parent. I left a call back number and later receive a call from the students father. We discussed the students grade and the fact that she was nearly passing and just needed to get in a few assignments to raise the grade up. It was a pretty standard conversation and the father seemed willing to help with the situation and remind and encourage her to get her work in. She had been absent a few of the days prior to this phone conversation, and after this she was in class every day. I am assuming her father was able to encourage her to get in class and do the work she needed to in order to do well in the class, because she is a very bright student but was simply missing a lot of assignments.

Student 2 I was able to meet this students mother at conferences earlier in the semester where I was made aware that he has had some complex living situations in regards to what parent he will be staying with and he actually ran away from home for a time. When I spoke with his father, he did not seem that concerned with the fact that his son was not passing the class, but he did also not seem apathetic. We did discuss the fact that he has had a lot going on and, again, it was just a matter of getting his missing work and taking the time to get it all in. Fortunately I was able to see this student the next day and we had a work day because many of our students were gone due to ACT testing. I was able to get him all the missing assignments and work with him individually on some of the assignments. It was beneficial to see that his father was for the most part supportive of his son, but at the same time he was understanding of the situation at hand and not overly critical of his performance. The phone call was able to show me that there is oftentimes a lot more going on behind the scenes and you may have to work with a student individually to support them and their growth as a learner, depending on individual situations. Student 3 This student does very good work when he completes assignments, but he is often absent from class and missing numerous assignments. When I spoke with his mother she assured me that she would remind him to get assignments and we could hope to see an improvement in his performance. It was encouraging to see that I did see more effort on his part after this phone call as he stopped in a few days later to receive and work on all his missing work, and he soon turned in quite a few of the missing assignments he had in order to raise his grade from an F up to a C. It showed me that these simple reminder phone calls home that get parents involved can make a big difference in helping students achieve to their potential, assuming the parental support is there, which in this case it was Student 4 This conversation was pretty brief and the parent listened and acknowledged the fact that her daughter was not passing the class, but she did not suggest that she was palling to take much action to do anything about this. Unfortunately, I did not see this student in class for the next couple of weeks and her grade has not improved. This did tell me, however, that there was most likely not a lot of parental encouragement and support in this case to get her coming to class and making up assignments, and that is a huge reason why we didnt see any change. Student 5 This was an interesting conversation because I spoke with the mother of a student who had not been in class for almost a month and a half. She was receiving a very low failing grade as a

result. Her mother did seem to care about the fact that her daughter was doing poorly but at the same time didnt seem overly concerned. She explained the situation of her own work schedule and that she could not always keep tabs on her daughter, but during the phone conversation she actually put her daughter on the phone for me to speak with her and try to encourage her to get in to class and make up some missing work and possibly receive a passing grade. The mother went on to continue to explain their family situation and that she wanted her daughter to do well, but at the same time it seemed that she was providing reason for why her daughter was doing poorly and had not been in class. I expressed an attitude of understanding but at the same time encouraged her to work with and encourage her daughter to get into class and make up work. Unfortunately, after this phone conversation there has been no change in this students class attendance and she continues to receive a failing grade because of that. Student 6 This student is another student who has had attendance issues, but when in class participates in discussion and does good work. In speaking with her mother, she explained that she has had some health issues that have caused her to miss a lot of school, which I had been unaware of. Her mother expressed that she was already aware of the fact that she was missing a lot of work for this reason and she was working with her to get caught up. She seemed to be sympathetic towards her daughters situation and expressed that she was doing what she could to help her do well. She did not get into any specifics of what the issues were that were causing her to miss school, so I did not pry for details. I felt confident, based upon what the mother was telling me, that she would support her daughter in working to get caught up. She has had much better attendance recently and is bringing her grade up by completing the assignments that she has now been in class to complete. Student 7 I spoke with this students mother and she seemed genuinely concerned that her son was receiving a failing grade in the class. This is a student who is very bright, but as is often the case is failing simply because of missing work and spotty attendance. Despite the fact that his mother seemed concerned with the fact that he was failing, I have seen no change in attendance and he has not turned in missing assignments, so his grade remains low. I think since the phone call that he has actually been in class less, which is curious because it did seem like his mother was willing to work with him in order to improve his class performance. Student 8 I spoke with this students mother. She listened to the issue but did not seem overly concerned with the fact that her daughter was receiving a failing grade. I did not feel that confident that

she would provide much support or encouragement for her daughter in order to improve her learning. Since the phone call I have seen little change in her attendance and class performance as she attends class occasionally and still has quite a few missing assignments. Student 9 I spoke with this students mother and she seemed very supportive of her son and I was encouraged and definitely felt confident that she would support him in helping to turn things around. She was already aware that he was not doing so well. He transferred into the class from a different school mid-semester and she said that may be a difficult transition for him. I was also not aware, and she informed me, that he has ADHD and struggles to stay organized and keep up with assignments. She told me that a lot of times it is just a matter of getting what he needs in front of him and he will do the work. In this case his mother was very helpful in helping me understand this students situation and how we could work with him to ensure learner growth. I had definitely seen that he provided effort and came to class, yet he still was not doing well so this conversation did help me to understand what action could be taken to change that. In speaking with his mother we were able to realize that if I could put together a packet of all his missing work and go through it with him and what he specifically needed to do, she would work with him to make sure he got it done and we would see an improvement for him. So I put together his missing work and explained what he needed to do the next time I saw him in class, and sure enough, a few days later he got his work in and we saw an improvement in his grade. That was definitely encouraging to see how collaboration with a parent through a simple phone call in working to understand a student better, and some of his difficulties in order to combat those, could allow us to work with him and achieve greater learner growth. Student 10 This phone conversation was a bit discouraging as I spoke with the students father and he seemed rather unconcerned with the fact that his daughter was receiving a failing grade. Maybe he was in a hurry or something, but he seemed to dismiss the conversation rather quickly and didnt care to collaborate with anything that could be done on his end in order to change things. Despite this, however, a few days later this student did stop in and get her missing work and turn in a few missing assignments in order to bring her grade up. I dont know if that based on her fathers encouragement or if the phone call home made any difference or if she took the initiative herself. Either way, I was glad to see that she was taking steps to improve her grade. Student 11

This was interesting conversation because I spoke with the students mother who informed me that her daughter was 18 years old now and so she felt she was no longer responsible for her. I felt a bit discouraged that she seemed to care very little about her daughters performance in the class and disregarded what I was telling her as not her responsibility. I tried to be understanding at the same time. I didnt want to try to tell her how to raise her daughter or anything like that, and after speaking with her for a bit longer she did seem to suggest that she would talk with her daughter about the situation. At the same time she still didnt seem to think that it was really her responsibility to do anything about this situation. Recently though, I have seen improved attendance from this student and she has asked for missing work. She is still receiving a low grade but it is improving slowly but surely. Hopefully the phone call home had some effect even if the mother does not view it as her worry in regards to how her daughter is dong in class. Student 12 I reached this students father and he seemed interested to speak with me about his sons performance but then he abruptly informed me that he was in the middle of a work shift and could not speak with me. His son is a very bright student, especially in history, and participates in class, when he is present. He does have some social challenges and has had previous incidents where he has blown-up in class. He has demonstrated, based upon class participation, that he knows material very well, but he has a lot of difficulty turning in assignments and has a low grade as a result. His attendance is also pretty spotty. I mentioned this phone call to another teacher in my professional learning community who has had this student previously. She informed me that he has had some behavioral issues, but that his family is very supportive and willing to work with him and the school staff to get him on the right track. He has difficultly bringing assignments to class or holding on to things so I have began to allow him to keep things in class so he will have them when he comes in and I will hold on to papers for him that he works on during class because he has specifically told me that he knows he will lose it before he would return to class next time. This has helped a bit as he has gotten assignments in that previously he would usually miss points on because he wouldnt remember to bring with the work from last time. However, his attendance has still been somewhat spotty and he has numerous missing assignments. Because he has not been in class much I have not had as many opportunities as I would hope for to speak with him and try to come up with other ways in which we can help him demonstrate his learning, because he does a great job with demonstrating his knowledge in a verbal manner, but shows very little motivation in turning in assignments and completing written work. Student 13

I spoke with this students mother. He is a Special Ed. student in one of the classes I teach with a co-teacher who specifically works with a group of SPED students in the class. He occasionally has issues with off-task behavior and coming to class un-prepared, but when he sets his mind to it he can do quite well and understand the material and complete assignments. He was on the brink of a passing grade. His mother seemed to be quite supportive and suggested that she would continue to work with him, as she already does, to make sure that he would complete all the assignments and do what he needed to do to raise his grade. Since the conversation I feel like his behavior has been pretty much the same, which is not all that bad. He is a good student, and he has taken the initiative to raise his grade, slightly at least, by completing some missing assignments. There has not been a drastic change, but slight improvement. Student 14 I spoke with this students father. This is a student who often has difficulty staying on task in class, but when he does do the work he does well. I explained this to his father and his father agreed but did not seem too concerned or willing to do much to change these occurrences. I have spoken with this student about working to stay on task and complete assignments, but in general I have not seen much change in his behavior and rate of assignment completion.