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Professional Inquiry Project: Report Findings

EDUC 4206 Professional Experience 4: Teacher as Inquirer


Jasminka Jurkovic | 110168070

Focus
The focus on the Professional Inquiry project was based on the AITSL professional standards for
teaching – 7.3 ‘Engage with parents/carers.’ In particular; ‘How can I effectively increase the level of
teacher-parent communication and engagement?’

Context and Curriculum Area

This personal inquiry project was completed within a Year 1 classroom in a category 3 school, located
in the Northern Suburbs of Adelaide. There were 25 students in this classroom with one student being
away the whole experience due to being overseas. Majority of the students in the class were working
at a year 1 standard, some students were above the year 1 standard and a few students were below
it. There are 15 boys and 10 girls of which 13 are EALD (English as an Additional Language or Dialect)
students. 12 Students are of European/Anglo-Celtic background, 3 students are Aboriginal, and 10
students are of Asian background.

The inquiry area I focused on did not link directly with the Australian Curriculum Assessment and
Reporting Authority (ACARA) as it was focused upon building communication and engagement with
parents. However, successfully communicating with parents and carers required me to be a proficient
literacy user. To demonstrate and encourage effective communication with parents I used verbal and
written communication along with positive body language and gestures.

Justification for inquiry process

Through my constant communication, I was able to build strong and coherent relationships with most
parents and carers. I first started developing relationships with them by sending home an ‘About Me’
form that included a photo and information about myself as well as how they can contact me during
my time at the school. By getting to know me briefly through this letter, it allowed parents to feel
more comfortable with my presence in their child’s class. During the first week I introduced myself to
many parents, however, because they knew my name they were also introducing themselves, which
was effective when trying to form a relationship.

By building these relationships with parents, I was able to understand their child and how they learn.
Desforges & Aboucher (2003) supports this theory as they state that the relationship between parents
and educators is influential on a child’s social and emotion wellbeing and academic learning outcomes
as they feel more supported. Chrispeels (1988) also supports Desforges & Aboucher’s (2003) theory
Professional Inquiry Project: Report Findings
EDUC 4206 Professional Experience 4: Teacher as Inquirer
Jasminka Jurkovic | 110168070

and states that communication is the key to the foundation of learning and for developing strong
home-school partnerships with families.

During the 4th and 5th week I began sending home certificates, so the parents could see their
children’s learning and personal goals/ achievements. This allowed me to share a relationship with the
parents as we celebrated their child’s learning. I also began to send home these certificates to parents
whom I had not had contact with. By doing this I was trying to create a different means of
communication for those parents. My mentor teacher values relationships with parents, therefore,
she supported my project and did what she could to help me build these relationships. She asked me
to do other things that were unintended such as give parents notices, talk to them about upcoming
events, and about their child’s behavioural issues. Having my mentor strongly support this goal,
allowed me to go out of my way to communicate with parents about a range of things.

On my last day of placement, we had an excursion which four parents had volunteered for. During this
experience I received great feedback from these parents and it was during this encounter I realised
how important it is to form a positive and strong relationships with students’ parents. To complete
the project my mentor teacher filled out a survey form on the things she noticed and/or the changes
in parent involvement and communication within my weeks in the classroom.

Data results and analysis

It was evident to me rather soon that I had set an unrealistic goal for this project. This goal was to talk
to three different parents each morning and each afternoon. The reason this was problematic was
children who came from complex families, those children whom went to OSHC and the few parents
that would avoid any interaction with educators. Although unrealistic, I still aimed to talk to three
parents each morning and afternoon even if it was the same parents. Thus, I was able to maintain and
grow the communication with those parents I had begun forming a relationship with. However, to
show parents that I care and value their children’s learning I sent home certificates of their children
achieving personal and/or learning goals. By doing this, I hoped it would demonstrate to the parents
that I value their children and that communication with them is important in supporting their child’s
learning.

The checklist I created to monitor parent communication was helpful because it allowed me to easily
keep tabs on which parents I communicated with and how often we communicated for. Thus, clearly
Professional Inquiry Project: Report Findings
EDUC 4206 Professional Experience 4: Teacher as Inquirer
Jasminka Jurkovic | 110168070

showing the parents whom I struggled to have communication with (See Appendix 1). Through this
checklist I was able to see the growth of communication with parents over the four weeks of
implementing this project. Having a parent communication log book also allowed me to look back over
the many different conversations I had with parents (See Appendix 2). There were conversations about
learning, health and wellbeing, suggestions to help with learning at home, behaviour issues and
children’s strengths and weakness. All these conversations represent the relationship and trust I had
built with the parents.

Through data collection and analysis, it is evident that parent communication was successful and
increased over the weeks (See Appendix 3). In week 6, I had communicated with 9 parents at least
once that week and 6 parents 2-3 times. From week 7 onwards, it became common for me to be
communicating with the same parent at least 2-3 times throughout the week, which was a great
improvement. In the final week, I had spoken to at least three 3 parents 4-5 times in that week. By
collecting this data and analysing it through this graph I was able to visually see just how much my
communication with parents was successfully and had increased throughout the four weeks, which
was the aim of my project.

By having a supervising mentor feedback, I was able to receive feedback that monitored the
effectiveness of communication I had with parents. My mentor mentioned that from the beginning of
my practicum I was able to develop trust of students’ parents by having general conversations with
them when they came to school in the morning/afternoon. She suggested how this allowed me to
have increasing engagement and successful communication with parents over the four weeks.
Although she did not notice a huge change in parents coming in more regularly, she said my
communication became more regular and natural as I began to form relationships with some parents.
Although, there was not a noticeable change in the behaviour/attitude of parents, my mentor stated
she liked that I tried to communicate with parents that I didn’t see by sending them home certificates
of their child’s learning.
Professional Inquiry Project: Report Findings
EDUC 4206 Professional Experience 4: Teacher as Inquirer
Jasminka Jurkovic | 110168070

Reflection

By collecting different forms of data and analysing it, I was able to see clearly how many parents I had
formed a strong communicative bond with and those parents who I had limited communication with.
Having this communication with parents allowed for the growth of their child’s learning but also my
teaching practice. Through conversations with parents I was able to support their child and provide
effective strategies for at home learning. Graham-Clay (2005) suggests that educators may face
challenging interactions with culturally and linguistically diverse parents. Thus, throughout my project
I tried my best to understand the needs of the families, show respect for the cultural values and
demonstrate my willingness to understand their different cultural values and beliefs to ensure these
were recognised and respected within my time at the school. To ensure my communication with these
parents was effective, I was a proficient literacy user through speaking, writing and using positive body
language and gestures. In my future practice, I will continue to use a checklist to ensure that I am
always maintaining communication with all families.

Conclusion

Through this inquiry project I was able to successfully develop a range of skills and techniques to
engage and communicate with a diverse range of parents/carers. This outcome has influenced my
teaching practice and how I value communication and the positive effect is has on students’ learning.
Analysing the results of my data has allowed me to effectively view how I can use these communicative
techniques as a future educator but also how I can build on them.
Professional Inquiry Project: Report Findings
EDUC 4206 Professional Experience 4: Teacher as Inquirer
Jasminka Jurkovic | 110168070

Reference List
Desforges, C., Abourchaar, A. 2003. The impact of parental involvement, parental support and family education
on pupil achievements and adjustment: A literature review. London, UK: Department for Education and Skills.

Chrispeels, J., 1988. Communicating with Parents.

Graham-Clay, S., 2005. Communicating with parents: Strategies for teachers. School Community Journal, 16(1),
pp.117-129.

Grundy, S., 1995. Action research as professional development. Innovative Links project, Murdoch, Western
Australia.

Marion, R.L., 1980. Communicating with parents of culturally diverse exceptional children. Exceptional Children.
Professional Inquiry Project: Report Findings
EDUC 4206 Professional Experience 4: Teacher as Inquirer
Jasminka Jurkovic | 110168070

Appendix 1: Checklist
Professional Inquiry Project: Report Findings
EDUC 4206 Professional Experience 4: Teacher as Inquirer
Jasminka Jurkovic | 110168070

Appendix 1: Checklist
Professional Inquiry Project: Report Findings
EDUC 4206 Professional Experience 4: Teacher as Inquirer
Jasminka Jurkovic | 110168070

Appendix 2: Parent Communication Log Book


Professional Inquiry Project: Report Findings
EDUC 4206 Professional Experience 4: Teacher as Inquirer
Jasminka Jurkovic | 110168070

Appendix 3: Communicating with parents’ graph analysis

Communicating with Parents


14

12

10

0
Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9

0-1x 2-3x 4-5x