Teacher Ambassador Blog Summary: Parent-Teacher Partnerships

The following is a summary of responses to the Teaching Fellows’ series of questions about parent-teacher partnerships posted on the blog from Oct. 22-Nov. 2. Summaries of the posts are available on the web and also published internally at the Department of Education to help those shaping policy and assistance to educators in the field. In addition, the information from the posts helps to inform the Teaching Ambassador Fellows work as we continue conversations with teachers, parents, school officials, and students.

Questions posed by the blog:
What do you think teachers want from parents? What do you think parents want from teachers? Where might their interests converge? What is your vision for an effective partnership between parents and teachers?

Respondents: 27

Highlighted statement:
“I find that teachers make or break the nature of this partnership, and teachers’ attitudes are shaped by the principal’s approach.” — Natalie, parent

Themes:
Teachers and parents care about the quality of children’s education and want what is best for children. However, often because of pressures, past experiences, or lack of information, the adults sometimes turn their frustration toward each other. When they are able to work in partnership with one another to support the other’s distinct roles and engage in authentic partnership, then true collaboration can occur.

  1. Parents and teachers share many goals for children. Both want children to succeed, thrive, and to do well in school so that they create pathways for success in the future.

    • “Everyone wants… the child to be successful by being independent and a positive, contributing member of our society.” — Lisa
    • “Teachers and parents should both want the best for their children/students.” — Bev
    • “The convergence (of our goals) is our future.” — Wendy
  2. Though they have goals in common, parents and teachers often have different needs from one another. Both recognize that for education to work, each side must do their part.

    • “Teachers want support from parents… Parents want communication from teachers.” — Cheryl
    • “Teachers want parents to discipline—not punish—their children, teach them right from wrong… responsibility… how to speak respectfully… to accept consequences… Teachers want parents to support education… to believe that education is good and necessary… to love their children enough to set limits on their own and their children’s behavior.” — Bev
    • “Parents want teachers to communicate, understand that each child is different and value their child for being different.” — Adam
    • “Parents want teachers to unconditionally love their children while teaching them.” — Lisa
  3. Parents and teachers sometimes sabotage their relationship when they don’t understand each other or don’t feel heard. When a teacher’s or a parent’s needs are left unmet, or when a child’s needs are unmet, the adults might become defensive and blame one another.

    • “As the parents of a disabled child, we understand the struggles on both sides… to blame one or the other is not the answer.” — Chris
    • “In order to ‘build’ a partnership, each party has to first be honest and trustworthy. It is when the trust has been broken time and again that the partnership dissolves and barriers begin to build.” — Jewels
    • “[The parent/teacher] relationship is often sabotaged by defensiveness. Parents often suspect that teachers may be unfairly treating their child, while teachers often assume parents are going to be hostile or critical.” — Joe
    • “If teachers are not helpful to parents, i.e., spend more time complaining and lecturing parents about how to parent than coming up with ways to deal with the issue, then there is no way they can work as partners.” — Natalie
    • “[Teachers need] parents [who] support the most basic discipline their children require in school [instead of arguing], ‘My kid would never do THAT! You’re picking on my kid!’ ” — Nancy
    • “Right now what the [education] industry’s ‘parent involvement’ mantra really means is getting parents to say, “How, sir” when educators say, “Hold a bake sale.” — Dee
    • “With 180 students every semester… Even One minute on the phone or in e-mail for each student is 3 hours of work.” — Carol
  4. Parents and teachers best meet their common objectives for students when they form partnerships on behalf of the child. Two factors seem to be most important: authenticity and communication.

    • “An Effective Parent Partnership always invites parents to the table to make decisions about school curriculum and programs for students. This practice must be done with integrity and not as a superficial gesture to appease the community.” — Nicole
    • “Effective partnership includes role definition and clarification. Let parents parent. If you’re a teacher, do not [impose] your parenting style on others.” — Lorrie
    • “An effective partnership is one in which each side trusts the motives of the other, where the teacher exhibits caring for the child and the parent exhibits support for the teacher.” — Joe
    • “We might as well come up with partnerships, not sole proprietorships…” — Cecelia
    • “Communication is key.” — Monique
    • “Children learn both at home and school… Parents, teachers, community leaders, and school administration will achieve more if the goals are met with a team approach.”

Post Script from the Teaching Fellows: The President’s proposal for reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) doubles the funding to foster meaningful conversations such as these between parents and teachers—dialogs that support teachers and equip parents to be advocates for their children’s education.

6 Comments

  1. Parent and teacher communication is important. Teachers would like parents to be involved in their children’s education and be open with them. Sometimes teachers get frustrated because parents do not have an open communication. Teachers want their students to succeed and having an open communication with parents is part of it. They want parents to work with them. As a parent, I can tell you that I want an open communication from my children’s teachers. I along with many other parents want to know how our children are progressing, and if there is a problem that we should know about. I have three young children and have always had an open communication with all the teachers. It is important for both teacher and parent to be on the same page and have open communication. As a teacher I have some parents who do not communicate with me. It is frustrating because those are the students who are having a hard time, and I want to work with the parents. All I get from them is I know, I should but sometimes I do not have time. It is important to make time for your children. In my opinion if every teacher and parent would have an open communication, it would be more successful. After all we want our students to succeed.

  2. Keeping lines of communication open is extremely important. It is always my hope to stay approachable to both students and parents. Defensiveness by either parents or teachers can damage the relationship and the communication between them. I also think that an important part of increasing this communication is by making parents feel comfortable and welcome at school.

  3. It is important that teachers invite parents into the classroom through their words and actions. When the lines of communication are open and both teacher and parent understand that they are in a partnership to promote the most positive educational experience for the child, the outcome is powerful.

  4. In my opinion, the parents, teachers, and principals of each school know best what is happening in their individual schools and what is needed in their schools. They can keep each other honest. Superintendents and school boards are very corrupt and should be eliminated. This would save a lot of money that could be put to better use.

  5. Teachers must stop assuming that the only they can only be effective is when parents are supporting their efforts. The danger with this is when the support is not there the teacher incorrectly believes that the parent does not care, and this then impacts the teaching behavior of the teacher in interacting and teaching the child. For a variety of good reasons, it is more and more difficult for parents to give teachers the kind of support they want from parents. Teachers need to understand this and continue to work hard in helping all children, not just the ones that are receiving parental support.

  6. ONLY when parents and teachers are equal partners in the education process–with a mutual respect for each others’ educational and developmental role–does education truly work.

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